Elli Webb’s four rules to Make A Difference (MAD)

Small changes can lead to big impacts over time. Cleanaway Waste Education Officer Elli Webb has four main rules for a zero-waste life – and she’s sticking to them for a whole year. If you thought Plastic Free July was a challenge, find out how Elli is making a difference (MAD) on her MAD journey.


The rules are:


  • Zero waste to landfill
  • No new purchases
  • Food must be local
  • Reduced carbon emissions


Zero waste to landfill

This one is simple. No rubbish in the red-lidded wheelie bin. Nothing. Zero.


Be organised and purchase mindfully to avoid buying items that can’t be reused or recycled. For organic foods, compost them. Recycle where ever possible, and if you have single-use plastics, there are plenty of ways to turn them into crafts. There is always an alternative to the landfill. It isn’t always easy, but it IS doable.


Rearing chickens to recycle and compost food scraps in return for free range fresh eggs and fertiliser


No new purchases

To create anything takes energy, either from oil, coal or natural resources. For instance, a cotton t-shirt requires an incredible amount of energy and resources to make. There is the fuel transportation cost and then there’s the water cost; making a cotton t-shirt uses the same amount of water as a human would use in two years.


If you do need to buy something, stick to the following criteria:

  • Determine if this is a need or a want
  • Buy only locally produced items
  • Minimal transportation distance


Beetroot harvest from the garden


Food must be local

The less your food has to travel to reach you, the better. This means it uses less energy, fuel and resources, and thus has a low impact on the environment.


The easiest way is to grow your own produce (if you have the space) but otherwise, find the local farmers market for the freshest produce. If the farmers market is not an option, talk to your local stores and learn where your produce comes from.


Elli’s own limit is within 250km of her home. Any further and she goes without it (which is why she has gone without apples since she began her zero waste journey).


Reduced carbon emissions

Elli uses only the energy that her solar system provides, thus minimising her energy usage. She is also planting trees on her property for shade and temperature regulation. If this is not an option for you, there are still numerous actions you can take.


Use only one light at a time at home. Avoid electric heating and cooling whenever possible. Turn the lights and TV off when you leave a room. Instead of taking the car, try to walk or bike whenever possible.


These 4 MAD rules require a bit of planning and forethought, but they are excellent principles to live by and can help make a sustainable future possible.


What are your rules for making a difference? Share your journey with us online with the hashtags #plasticfreejuly and #sustainablefuture