If you are part of the Instagram community you will know of the trend to post a collage of your top nine ‘liked’ posts for the year. Instead of doing this I thought I’d choose nine photos which best represent where my energy was spent in 2016. So here goes.

Nine photos which reflect my year 2016.

  1. I was a doer not a buyer. I did lots of making, upcycling, reusing, and repurposing things I already had. There were only a couple of items like the Santa sacks which were made from a few pieces from the op shop. This has saved me a lot of money, prevented a lot of waste, and meant that I bought nothing but food, some experiences and some gifts. DIY everything is not essential for zero waste living but my waste would definitely be larger if I was not able to salvage some items. And, what’s the point of shopping sustainably if you’re still addicted to consuming.
  2. I cooked real food by making more from scratch with quality ingredients. I did this not just to reduce waste but because of the many health benefits for my family and the planet. I’ve had to relearn a lot about ingredients and cooking, participating in workshops to help me along. I still find cooking from scratch the hardest thing to consistently achieve, despite all the benefits, so I’m thinking about strategies to make this easier in 2017.
  3. I found many ways (outlined throughout this blog) to significantly reduce waste inside and outside my home, meaning that I can comfortably fit all my waste for 2016 in a jar, and for the whole family, in one shopping bag. I also learnt a lot about recycling.
  4. I worked on turning my gardening hobby into my dream of being self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables. This has involved a commitment to myself to prioritise time in the garden when faced with competing demands. So far so good.
  5. I spent a lot of time repairing items and mending clothing, often teaching myself how and learning from others. For example, my Dad tried to weld handles back onto my steel pots (bought cheap with plastic handles when I first moved out of home to go to university), but we found the steel too thin and the welder kept blowing holes through the pots. They’ve gone to the steel recycler and I’ll be sure to purchase much better quality next time.
  6. I upped the ante in the composting department, composting anything made from organic matter that had no further use. Composting is essential for achieving zero waste.
  7. I took action! I wrote letters to many organisations about palm oil, waste, plastic and climate change. I wrote blog posts every week and magazine articles. I signed petitions, had conversations, shared information, and changed my own behaviours.
  8. I spoke up. I gave 22 presentations to all different age groups and 10 radio interviews. I’ve met and befriended many wonderful people along the way who are all doing their bit for a sustainable future.
  9. I practiced being a better parent. There’s always room for improvement and it can be hard not to fall back into old habits. I worked on modelling the values I want to instil including slowing down and being in the moment. Have you tried slowing down, to stop being so busy? It’s harder than you might think. I also worked on developing in my children the skills and knowledge I believe they will need to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

There were plenty of peaks and troughs throughout 2016 but it was all worthwhile. It seems appropriate now to share how much waste we are sending to landfill this year. Let’s start with some things applicable to the whole family. These are the items we were unable to avoid for pet care and food shopping.

Now here is my waste for 2016. It includes straws I did not ask for, a PVC packaging sleeve, paracetamol and ibuprofen blister packs, toothbrush bristles, band-aid waste and sports tape, part of a vacuum cleaner hose, broken dressing pin case, plastic packet which contained sewing machine needles, netball membership card, armband tape from indigenous round of netball, and contact lens cases. There’d be a lot less waste if I didn’t play netball but being zero waste is not about not having a life. It’s about being responsible consumers.

My 2016 waste.jpg

Shannon’s waste didn’t fit into his jar but you can see that he has actually done very well (mostly because I do the majority of shopping for the family). The large stickers are off his motorbike and clearly there is some pain management going on there. I’ve decided to spare you the visual of a small amount of medical waste.

Shannon's waste.jpg

Alby and Ainsley’s waste is very similar but Alby also had some medical waste not shown because he burnt his hand. The kids obviously don’t have a huge amount of control over what comes into their lives but it began to amaze me how often treats are offered to children. Their waste came from birthday parties and a little from gifts, school and home life. I’ll be taking all the chocolate and confectionary wrappers to a REDcycle drop off point so they won’t go to landfill. We’ve also added the iPod cases to the craft box for reuse.


I begin 2017 with an injection of energy from the Summer sunshine and the natural vibrations of a new year. I have events starting this week, we’ll be taking a family holiday to Vanuatu in a couple of weeks and we’re moving house in March so I’ll be sure to give you a look around. The nine focus areas listed above will continue to be important to me in 2017 but I have not spent as much time in nature, camping, reading, or playing sport as I’d like. I’m hoping to do something about that. Thank you for following our journey so far and I hope you stick around for more. HAPPY NEW YEAR!


23 thoughts

  1. Wonderful. I start my journey this year . Spent a few months prepping friends and family , sourcing researching and practicing but feeling very confident, especially once I found a local winery that refills your bottles rather than recycling. Wish me luck !

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Tammy

    Happy New Year and did the Weekly Times contact you ? and noted that Tom Elliott was running the frugal presents line !

    Encl some summary notes on Vic Water Plan FYI

    Alex Arbuthnot AM

    Mobile 0419968168

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My heartfelt thanks to you Tammy for sharing your inspirational ideas, seeing your commitment and especially for the way you have tips for how to try and get 3rd parties to take on board the concepts. I try and live as sustainably as possible but I must admit I fail (well the shops fail) miserably when shopping locally. The systems just won’t support my needs. As discussed before, I just keep chipping away and supporting the businesses who do foster responsible concepts in the hope that demand will change things. I am hoping to have discussions with our new local supermarket manager for some ways to reduce, very happy that more and more local produce is being promoted there so fingers crossed. Have a wonderful break and I hope moving isn’t too stressful, I hate the messy parts of moving and don’t envy you. Look forward to seeing all your exciting new ideas in 2017! M

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Maree, I love that we have connected too! I must admit to really feeling the limitations of shopping in Gippsland in the past 2 months and also the rest of the family is bucking against being so strict with refusing plastic for the year ahead. I’m thinking through ways to make it easier for us and the best use of my time and energy to make a difference. Will share more soon 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Please keep chipping away at your sustainability approach rather than saying you “fail”. Every little bit helps and the more attempts we make the more changes the retailers will focus on. Please note the following quote from the Dali Lama “if you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Tammy. We’re hoping to get better at this each year, and by that I mean continuously improve our meagre efforts we’re not doing well but we get better all the time and you’re so encouraging and full of information it’s so helpful. Thankyou

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well done Tammy! I will continue to follow your blog this year, you are an excellent source of inspiration for me in this zero waste journey.
    For the person who asked about bulk wine refills, I live in Brisbane and googled “beer and wine growlers brisbane” or something similar and found a few news articles listing several options, mostly around the cbd. I’m sure the other capital cities would have similar options. In Brisbane we have –
    Green Beacon Brewing, Helen St Teneriffe
    Craft, Musgrave Rd Red hill
    Malt Traders, Market St Brisbane
    Next Door Cellars, Boundary St West End
    Newstead Brewing Co, Doggett St Newstead
    Bacchus Brewing Co, Christine place Capalaba.
    I have not tried any of these yet as we are still finishing all our wine and beer off. I intend to call before I go just to ask how it all works, and then I will enter them into Bea Johnston’s Bulk app (which is how I found my current bulk store, Grandma’s Pantry in capalaba.
    Thanks again and keep up the awesome work! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh definitely, just thought I’d add some info in the hopes that some of your readers aren’t in Gippsland (like me!)
        I don’t envy your lack of options down there, it must be hard! :/

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Tammy, I just came back from Phillip Island and I read about you in a magazine in a cafe in there and checked your blog as soon as I get home.I am really inspired and wiling to give it a go,however I need to do lots of research before getting started. hopefully 2017 is a plastic free year for me and more people.
    all the best

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Noush! Just do it all at your own pace and remember that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing – doing something is always better than doing nothing. You’ll find many things really easy to change – it’s just a switch when you do your next shop, and for others it will be harder because it involves breaking a habit, making something, or waiting for your body to adjust e.g. hair washing. It’s wonderful to hear so many more people wanting to make a difference in this way and hopefully all this consumer pressure will drive bigger changes in businesses. Have a great new year! Tammy


  7. Sounds like a productive and inspiring year Tammy! I loved to see the waste from your children, so interesting, especially as they have such little control over it.


    1. Thanks Amanda. I try to increase their responsibility by allowing them to choose how they spend their pocket money. They always want lollies but my eldest is now starting to want to save his money for something special. It can get difficult because they have so many influencers like friends, grandparents, school teachers, etc. but I read some stuff that said parents influence long term values and morals, so I hope my example will stick with them in adulthood.


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