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Home / News / The hipster’s guide to Zero Waste – by Jonathon Collins


The hipster’s guide to Zero Waste – by Jonathon Collins

31/10/2016 9:20 AM

Jonathon Collins is an environmental and marine scientist that has been working as the Environment Officer at News Corp Australia since 2014.      

It’s no secret I’ve dappled in almond milk lattes, quinoa salads and a growing collection of Happy Socks in my time living in the deeply hipster suburb of Surry Hills. So it should also come as no surprise as I also jump on the Zero Waste bandwagon in the aim of looking cool whilst also reducing my impact on the planet. This is my no-nonsense hipster guide to Zero Waste:

1. Creating a wasteless pantry

Most produce in supermarkets now comes with disposable plastic packaging that sits on our shelves or in the fridge until the food item is finished and it can be recycled or thrown away. To reduce the number of these disposable items in your pantry, take your own canvas or tote bags when shopping and buy fresh, local produce in farmers markets or independent groceries as much as possible.

You’ll find that without all the plastic packaging used to keep the food ‘fresh’ that you’ll only purchase what you really need, reducing food waste and creating a pantry with no twist ties, bread tags, plastic stickers, receipts or other disposable plastics. More room for kale on those shelves.      



2. Making Use of Limited Space:

Living in an inner city terrace or apartment, there is little space to expand or acquire clutter. Many use this as the main reason for not growing their own garden but don’t realise many types of vegetables and herbs can grow in small spaces. Sunny windowsills, walls, benchtops and small balconies provide the perfect space for hanging planter boxes or pots, to grow plants with high yields in limited space.

For vegetables, try planting peas, beans, cherry tomatoes or Asian greens and for herbs, the easiest to grow are basil, mint, coriander, rosemary and lemongrass. To avoid early morning dashes to the supermarket for the missing ingredients of your cold pressed juice, look for strawberry seeds and dwarf citrus trees in your local nursery. For those who don’t have a green thumb and prefer being outdoors, look for a community garden with your local council.


3. Rethinking ‘waste’ into ‘vintage’

Repurposing and refurbishing vintage items is now fresh and relevant for young urbanites who decorate their homes in a mixture of clashing patterns and furniture from different eras.

Look out for unwanted items in council collections that might be wonky and in need of repairing or a new coat of paint to extend its life in another form. I’ve turned an old cupboard into a coffee table and restored a set of chair from the 1960’s to their former glory from stellar finds in a council pick up.

Similarly, it’s not uncommon to see hipsters rocking relics of the past: bringing flared jeans, grandpa sweaters and old aviators with the frames taken out at the forefront of fashionable vintage items. The beauty of these classic items is that they were made with higher quality fabrics and to last a greater amount of time, hence why they end up in vintage stores and charity shops. The clothes we buy today are purposed to be relevant for only a single season, so it’s time to embrace the second hand Christmas sweaters.