By Ali Webb

    [Inspired by the ABC’s recent program War on Waste.]

    It started with my bin. It’s always full, bursting, overloading with trash, every single day. How could I have so much rubbish? Sure, my kid is still wearing night time nappies which are virtually wet sandbags by the morning, but outside of this, what was filling my bin to the point of explosion every day?

    It was simply waste. So much waste I was starting to question my wastefulness. Which is exactly what I did.

    Having become a single parent in my mid-thirties has made me think about my budget and what I’m spending. Removing a whole second wage from my bank account came as a shock, but not as big a shock as the discovery of the waste I was creating in my own little household bin.

    My bin was filled with food scraps, leftovers, wrappers, plastic bags, old clothes, broken shit and of course those shockingly heavy night time nappies (seriously, at what age do kids stop wearing these)?

    It was somewhat refreshing seeing my bin in this state. I needed to make a change and stop throwing my money in the, well, bin. The food wastage was a big one for me.

    I started with eating my fridge and pantry down. I wanted a clean slate. Start afresh, become a vegan, only drink green juice, be a better person, stop swearing, pat dogs. All the things.

    It was hard to start. I had to become creative with my cooking through using grains, rice and pasta and finding fun and interesting ways to use the veggies in the crisper. Instead of throwing out the veggies starting to turn to scrap, I made soup. I used all my canned legumes in soups, salads and chilli. I froze any large cook ups to eat in desperate times and then came the day where I simply had run out of food.

    I cleaned my pantry and I ordered a sweet box of seasonal fruit and veg from a local greengrocer. It was delivered a day later and it was enough to get me through my week. I wrote a menu on the back of an envelope for the week based on my fruit and veg, and bam, I felt like Suzy Homemaker. The box of fruit and veg cost me a grand total of $28 and teamed with a few extra items from the local supermarket, I was now on my way to smashing out a pineapple ($50) for a grocery bill each week. And I felt smart for it.

    There’s something else that has been bothering me about my waste. It was my clothes. In between my crazy full time hours, the full time parenting, the swimming lessons, the kinder pick ups and drop offs, the cooking (and eating down my pantry) and of course the dating, I’d become a slave to fast fashion. A slave to the e-newsletters offering free delivery, sales, ‘hot looks this winter’, ‘Buy 2 get 1 free’, 20% discount for 20 hours. Gah! It’s all a little overwhelming, but the marketing had been working on me. A little too well.

    So I cleansed my wardrobe, removing the clothing I hadn’t worn in years (do I seriously need maternity clothes as a single mum with a four year old?) and sold or donated what I didn’t want, wear, or just didn’t fit anymore (see above reason as
 to why). I created a rule for myself – no purchasing of new clothes for a month, maybe two and see how I survive. And so far, I’m still alive, with only a receipt highlighting a purchase for some new undies in the pile.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like a good shop but for me it’s about the hunt. Online shopping is just too easy, the sales are 
too accessible, the click throughs are too available, I think the models wearing the clothes look just so ‘similar’ to me (in my dreams). So I’ve turned to op-shopping. It’s fun,
it’s entertaining for my kid and now my home is filled with miscellaneous treasures that tell a story. From the eighties skateboard linen on my son’s bed, to my dress made from a Ken Done curtain, life shouldn’t be about throwing out stuff for waste’s sake. It should be fun, colourful and filled with rad stories and adventure.

    Craig Reucassel from the ABC’s War on Waste

    It’s been an interesting experiment and it seems I’m not alone. With so much inspiration behind the ABC’s recent War on Waste program and hearing my mates discuss their wasteful waste, it’s nice to hear of plans to diminish the size of our bin loads. My bin is looking a lot healthier as is my fridge and pantry and my purse is giving me the thumbs up for it.

    I’ve still got a long way to go, but the best thing about recognising my bin is a disaster is knowing my bin is a disaster.

    I’d love to swap stories of saving, sharing and recycling. So let’s not waste any more time on waste.

    Follow me at or on Instagram or Facebook @houseofwebb and let’s do this together.

    Photo credits (L-R): recycling-in-australia,, Craig Reucassel from the ABC’s War on Waste: show-tackles-aussies-growing-waste-problem-ng-b88469254z


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