'My 31-Day Waste Less Challenge' – Women's Health

In early 2018, on my weekly ocean swim, I noticed plastic floating in the watwr. From that day, I started picking up a few pieces of rubbish every time i went to the beach, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was to find. I knew the world was in trouble – I’d read the headlines – but it’d been a case of out of sight out of mind, I guess. 

Now, the ripples of environmental chatter have turned into a tidal wave. This year, 22 local councils in Australia and more than 600 worldwide have declared a climate emergency. And while we can look to governments and large organisations to create change, individuals can drive it, too. So I set myself a challenge – to slash my waste as much as possible for a month.

I’d already been using reusable bottles and coffee cups during my day job at Women’s Health but what surprised me most over those 31 days ws the amount of waste in other areas of my life, like the kitchen and in my beauty routine. 

Challenge completed, I the headlines – but it’d still haven’t totally nailed been a case of out of a waste-free existence sight out of mind, I guess. (we’re all a work in progress, right?), but environmental chatter I’m a helluva lot closer.

In fact, two months after taking on the challenge, I decided to launch my company Banish, an online store offering eco products as well as info on how we can all reduce our waste and eco-footprint. Want to take it yourself? Of course, you do! Here are some of my fave ways to live more, with less.

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Wash smart

Show Nemo some love. Every time you put on a wash, tiny microplastics break off your clothes and enter our waterways. To reduce this (and extend the life of your tights), wash on low temps and a low spin cycle. Even better? Use a Guppyfriend washing bag ($45), which catches the microplastics before they can hit the sea. Well played.

Mend mindfully

Fix your clothing – even just getting nine more months out of that gym tee could help reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by 20- 30 per cent each, according to the Waste & Resources Action Programme. Love!

Go full circle 

Savvy brands are now taking responsibility for their impact on the planet and getting in on the recycled-material game. Nimble Activewear’s Compresslite range is made from recycled plastic bottles. In the last year alone, they’ve helped save 300,000 of them from landfill. Sweet!


A plastic toothbrush

A plastic razor

Bottles of shampoo and conditioner

Tampons and pads

Single-use make-up wipes


Green-over your commute

When possible, ditch your car in favour of walking or public transport. UberPool is great.

Recycle E-waste

Aka electronic waste – everything from your old iPod to broken hair straightener. According to War on Waste, Oz creates 700,000 tonnes of it every year. Drop-off your unwanted items at your local Officeworks or e-waste recycling centre. Genius!

Refuse or re-use

Keep your toolkit nearby and say no to single-use plastics.


Start composting 

It’ll help reduce your household waste by 40 per cent, according to FoodWise. Don’t have space to start your own compost bin? Download the ShareWaste app, which connects you with neighbours who do.

Nix food waste

A fifth of food bought in Oz ends up in the bin, reports Love Food Hate Waste. That’s $3800 worth of groceries per household each year (or more than $70 weekly). Check your fridge before you shop and plan your meals for the week. I also love The Swag Bags ($72.95 for a starter pack) for keeping food fresg. The three-layer design helps things such as kale last for two weeks and carrots for a month.

Mind the packaging 

Buy food in boxes rather than plastic, and avoid anything packing palm oil, which contributes to deforestation. Chips, chocolate and lollies often come wrapped in plastic, so head to a bulk-food shop for snacks (I love dark choc-covered goji berries) or make popcorn at home.

No-waste toolkit


This article originally appeared in the October issue of Women’s Health Magazine.

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