Cleanaway Waste Education Officer Elli Webb is making a difference by doing a year producing zero waste, aptly named Elli’s MAD or Making A Difference journey. We sat down with her recently to talk MAD, Plastic Free July and avoiding the pitfalls when starting your zero-waste journey.
What is MAD and how long have you been going zero waste?
MAD is Making A Difference. The more I learnt through my role at Cleanaway as Waste Education Coordinator, the more passionate I became about reducing my impact on the earth by reducing my waste. That led me to commit to my zero waste journey this year on 1 March.
Tell us about your sustainable living journey and what inspired you.
I’ve been focusing on sustainable living for approximately 10 years now, but it began very slowly. I was inspired by evidence of climate change and the impact on the environment for future generations.
What are the first changes to start with?
Start small – change one thing in your life such as no plastic bags. And REALLY commit to this. You can get a box if you left your cloth bags at home, or put things straight into the trolley, but never use plastic bags again. It takes approximately one month to change a habit, so start small. Once you’ve nailed the new habit of no plastic bags, then start on something else. Things like no plastic straws, buying in bulk, shopping from a list, or always travelling with a reusable cup or water bottle.
What’s your advice for people looking to improve their sustainability efforts?
A big impact sustainability move is to shop at your local farmers markets or shops which provide local produce. Less kilometres travelled means less impact on the environment and helps to create a sustainable future.
Tell us more about your MAD journey. What are the pitfalls and challenges you faced?
It’s important to remember to take one day at a time, and don’t try to cut everything out of your life immediately, or you will fail. Baby steps – change one thing and make that a habit before moving on to changing another habit.
As for myself, I’m happy to say I’ve changed a few habits and they don’t bother me anymore.
I only buying food that is in season. I love apples and when I started my MAD journey they were out of season. But then I tried dragon fruit! If I hadn’t been MAD I would never had discovered them
I avoid ‘instant’ versions of food items – like the convenience of coffee, tea bags, noodles, pasta and canned foods
I wait for the kettle to boil on the stove instead of the instant electric kettle – this took over a month to get used to but now it’s nothing
I find alternatives that are sustainable, waste-free and local
What’s your favourite trick for reducing plastic use?
I look for different packaging options. I also store my food in glass in the pantry. When you buy local produce too, you don’t get the plastic packaging. The toughest plastic items to avoid are toothbrushes and milk bottles.