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One Mean Bean Salad

You guys! I made possibly the best bean salad I’ve made in forever! It’s beautiful, delicious, vegan and fully Zero Waste! I decided to go the vegan route on this one because it was going to be my potluck dish for an event my vegan friend hosted. I figured, she’s being so generous and hosting this event at her place, the least I could do was make a dish that she could also enjoy. So I got at it and added all kinds of goodness. The best part, I already had everything on hand and took maybe 15 minutes to prep.

Side note: My beans were already prepped and in the freezer, so it took a simple rinse to unfreeze them and into the salad they went. You can find how I did it here.

Ingredients:

Salad-

1 cup of cooked red beans

1 cup of cooked chickpeas

1 cup of cooked black beans

1 red bell pepper diced

1 yellow bell pepper diced

2 cucumbers diced (you can peel them if you don’t care of the skin)

1 small head of broccoli (about a cup worth) cut into small chunks

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

Dressing-

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

½ lemon, juiced

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

½ teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of dried parsley

Dash of dried basil

Directions:

Wash and chop all veggies. Toss them all into a large bowl.

Add all dressing ingredients into a bowl and mix. I added mine to a mason jar, sealed it up and shook it like crazy. You can play with the dressing to adjust it to fit your tastes better. I took what was closest to me in my spice drawer and took a chance. It was a good thing I did because it turned out to be a win!

Add half the dressing to the salad mix and store the rest for later. It’ll save for a few weeks in the fridge. Mix the dressing and the veggies together and voila!

You now have a super fresh, simple and delicious dish for any time. I’ve also made this for week lunches and picnics. It’s just lovely.

If you wish to add a non vegan twist, feel free to throw some feta or bocconcini cheese into the mix. Whatever you can find at the fromagerie (cheese store) without packaging. This salad is great both ways! So the next time you’re looking for a protein packed salad and are tight on time, keep this recipe in mind. Bon Apetite!

 

For more tips and tricks, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.

 

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

 

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Urban Gardening – How a Zero Waster grew a few beans -Pt. 2-

Welcome back! Last time, I had shared a bunch about how I started an urban garden, and ya know, have a new appreciation for farmers and love my green beans that I have a bunch of. Today, is all about my challenges. There’s been so many bumps in this road that it’s comparable to Montreal’s infamous pothole problem.

I want to start by saying that despite the difficult periods, I am loving this new hobby. I’ve really come around to the idea of spending a bit more free time on it. After all, it’s a hobby! Hobbies are activities you enjoy and do in your free time! For me to think that I wouldn’t want to spend too much time on it was silly and misguided. The fact that I get yummy food out of it is a gigantic bonus.

Before I started, I had no idea how much/how often I should be watering my plants. I still really don’t. I kind of go with whether or not they look dry, if we’ve had a lot of rain recently or if the leaves have started becoming yellow or brown. I was trying to water them about everyday which was super time consuming, but fully necessary when it was hot. I saw a way online that then altered my watering game for good! Basically, I now use a self-watering system using glass bottles. I had a stash of old clean glass bottles from a sparkly juice that I love. I filled them up with water and dug a small hole into the side of the pot beside the plants stalks. This allows for the roots to drink up the water whenever they need. This has made my watering go from every day to about every 3 to 4 days. I can now go away for a weekend without having them wilt or worry that they’ll die. I do still water the plants manually using a small hose and a bucket, but the self-watering system has really cut down my need.

On the watering front came another challenge that I did not anticipate. Being on the second floor, I did not realize the impact of the weight on the structure of the balcony. Originally, I had all my buckets lined up against my railing, it was super cute and would have been very easy to maintain the way I had it. Within 24 hours, my landlord came out and was like “Hey, sooo, you need to move your plants. The balcony has no support in the middle (between my apartment and the neighbors) and the gallery is starting to droop.” I never even realized that it would be so heavy, but thinking it over, between the dirt and the water, I understood. I had to move just under half the buckets to my front gallery to even out the weight. I also moved the remainder from the railing, to right beside the brick wall where the gallery met the outside of the apartment. It all worked out in the end, but it was  a bit stressful, I thought that after all the work I had put into it, he was going to ask me to get rid of them. I would have cried!

A small something I noticed was the importance of LABELLING YOUR SPROUTS! My goodness! With all the excitement I faced (Yes, excitement! I loved the beginning stages!) I totally forgot to label what I was growing. When everything started to really grow, I was all. ‘Hmmm, I wonder what you are!’ There’s still a few that I’m questioning. Eventually they show and you can figure it out, but it would remove A LOT of the guess work that I had. For example, I thought I was growing broccoli, turns out its peas! The peas had these tiny flowers budding and it reminded me of the tops of broccoli! After they all budded, the peas started growing and I’m all… UMM you’re not broccoli! IMPOSTER! It’s turned into quite a big inside joke and I smile every time I look at them. J But yeah, for the future, label what you’re growing!

Some more trouble I had was at the beginning stages in keeping it 100% Zero Waste. Aside from the packages from the seeds that you read about in part 1 of this blog, I had no clue where to get dirt that did not come in a plastic bag. I still don’t. *If you know how to get plastic free dirt in the city please feel free to email me. I’d love to know!* I had bought the largest bags of dirt that I could find, in hopes that it would be a smaller amount of plastic instead of buying a whole bunch of small bags. It really bothered me at the beginning. If I had a downstairs apartment or my own yard it could have been different. But that’s not the case and I did the best job I thought I could at the time. I did decide however that next year, I’ll attempt to re-add some nutrients to this soil (using fertilizer and compost) in an effort to reuse the dirt.

 

I’ve found that I really need to weight the good from the bag with this project.

 

BAD GOOD
Plastic bags for the dirt Attempt to reuse the product for years to come. Which will eliminate MORE waste from packaging.
Plastic buckets to hold the plants
Seeds from packaging
Glass bottles to water the plants.

 

Saved from recycling plant and made them into a multiuse tool, instead of an almost single use item.

 

I know it may seem like I’m making excuses, but the reality was that this was not a fully Zero Waste project and I am content with the progress that I’ve made.  Now I get the most local vegetables I could possibly ask for. They are organic and fresh and steps away from my kitchen. All these things make me incredibly happy. Legit, I make supper, run outside and grab some beans (and now, cucumbers!), give them a quick rinse and throw them into my supper! It’s amazing! Did I also mention how tasty the veggies are! Because they are! I’ve also grown so many beans that I bring them to suppers as small gifts. People tend to like small gifts and I like that it was an easy gesture to make someone happy.

Those are my challenges to date. Be sure to come back and read part 3 of this blog once more veggies start to show. I can’t wait to share some awesome Urban Garden based recipes with all of you! YUM!

For more tips and tricks, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

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Urban Gardening – How a Zero Waster grew a few beans -Pt. 1-

Happy Summer everyone! I want to take a minute to talk about a new passion project of mine: Urban Gardening. I live in Montreal, in a busy borough on the second floor of a duplex. I do not have a front or back yard or even access to an outdoor space larger than 100 square feet. This has been problematic in the search of new hobbies to do from home. A friend of mine lives on a farmette (not quite big enough to call a farm, but larger than the typical yard of a house) and her and her husband have this AMAZING garden that I love to visit. I always thought I’d do a good job with one. So I figured, why not. I should try it! I set out in search for ideas to make a garden happen, even if I don’t have the typical amount of space or any experience (like, none at all!).

First thing I did was choose the veggies I wanted to grow. My challenge was to find an organic variety of seeds with no packaging. Unfortunately, only one of those two requirements worked. I was not able to find anything without a package, but the way I’m seeing it, at the end of the growing season, I’ll attempt to learn how to save some seeds and reuse them the following year. So the minimal packaging that was bought for the first batch this year will be unnecessary for the next several to come. I call that a win!

Sprouting the seeds of the different plants was so neat. It may sound naive, but I never realized how different each seed can look. Some were so teeny and others were massive and had different colors. It was an interesting part of the gardening process for sure! To start the sprouts, I had repurposed a couple of old egg cartons to hold the seedlings. Keeping in mind that I’ve never done this before, you can imagine how excited I was when they first started growing. Then, we had some unfortunate weather and I wasn’t able to put the sprouted veggies outside with a fear of the frost cutting their growth. I was quickly overwhelmed with the now indoor jungle that was growing. I had not anticipated how quickly and how much space was actually needed. It felt like it had taken over my kitchen in the matter of weeks. It was a good thing that the weather eventually warmed up and I was able to move on to the next part of the plan.

With my sprouts well underway, I was now in search of pots to transfer them into. Not wanting to buy new plastic pots for this project, or wanting to hunt down and pay the price for ceramic planting pots, I needed to figure out what I would use. Through one of the Zero Waste Groups on Facebook, someone had posted photos of their plants/veggies in repurposed buckets and I thought it was an amazing solution! I sent requests out to local restaurants and requested family and friends to check through their stuff for any old buckets that they weren’t using. My aunt messaged me back saying that she had a ‘few buckets’ for me that were on her property, not doing anything. By ‘a few buckets’ I mean, there was now a plethora of buckets at my disposal! SWEET! Thanks to my aunt’s one small gesture of gifting me her old buckets, I was able to make an entire garden on my balcony!

The 2 stacks of buckets were older and caked in mud and moss. I think they were outside for a long while, but I legit didn’t care since I was able to now start! So I cleaned the buckets and I took a drill to add drainage holes to the bottom. I was really worried I’d kill the plants right off the bat and I obviously didn’t want that to happen the first time I watered them. Once all the holes were drilled, I brought the operation outside and started adding the dirt to the buckets. Imagine, I was covered in dirt, the kitchen was a mess with buckets, towels and power tools and I had the biggest goofy smile plastered across my face. I was so incredibly giddy when I was able to start planting my baby plants (that by this point were at least adolescents)!

I had lined all my new pots along the edge of my balcony and hoped for the best. I had wished it would be easy and that it wouldn’t take too much of my spare time. I had hoped that the harvests would be bountiful and that I’d have enough to share with friends and family. None of that has happened yet. I know, I know, I need to be patient… but I’m not that patient a person and this is killing me. So far, we’ve had so many beans. Delicious and sweet green beans – the best I’ve ever eaten really. And I’ve found a few things to turn my urban garden into a lazy gardener’s paradise without killing those suckers, but it has in no way been easy or effortless. I think growing my own food has given me a new appreciation for all the farmers out there who feed the masses. So much effort goes into it that they really need to be acknowledged more. THANK YOU FARMERS for feeding me these past 28 years. You are all wonderful and I appreciate your effort and will still continue to support your business!

So that’s it for now on the state of my urban garden and my journey as a newbie gardener. I have not yet lost hope that the bounty will be large enough to share and honestly, I’ve kind of began loving it. I’m sitting here now in the dark, on my gallery with my computer on my lap and my garden to my left. It’s something I never thought I’d have nor enjoy. Yet here we are.

Be sure to pop in to read part 2 of this blog post in what will most likely be an ongoing throughout the summer.  See how the garden is doing and I’ll be outlining all of my challenges thus far. And trust me, there’s been plenty!

For more tips and tricks, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

 

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Chocolate-Salted Protein Cookies

Have you ever messed up a recipe, seemingly beyond repair and thought “Well, that’s finished! Let’s just call it a day!” This used to happen to me all the time. Even now sometimes when I’m playing around with spices, I have to fight back the urge of tossing a meal because it’s incredibly too spicy; but a wonderful thing happens when you start to go Zero Waste. Your mind begins to change directions and ‘ok, this is done, let’s toss it’ becomes ‘how can I fix this’ pretty darn quick.

That’s what happened when I made these cookies. It was complete trial and error and it worked out greatly in my favor. It started as a good mood baking session that was supposed to result in chocolate chip cookies. One thing lead to another and I switched gears and wanted to try my hand at protein bars. Quick side note that protein bars were some of the biggest wasters in our house. We were never able to make them with enough protein (compared to the store bought kind). I didn’t want to keep buying protein powder in the big plastic containers, so I didn’t buy it at all… until now! Bulk Barn offers incredible options for protein powders (vegan options included). Our last trip over, we grabbed a jar and wanted to try it out in our baking.

Back to the cookies… chocolate chip cookies had evolved to protein granola bars and then ended with these incredible chocolate dipped protein cookies. They are full of amazing, whole foods. Full of complete nutrients, lots of protein and can be easily veganized. I hope you enjoy as much we did!

Ingredients:

Cookie Dough

3 large ripe bananas

½ cup chopped pecans

¼ cup of roasted and salted sunflower seeds

½ cup pumpkin seeds

¼ raisins (your favorite kind)

½ cup of whole salted and roasted almonds (loosely chopped)

1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of sea salt + 1 teaspoon to finish

1 cup of vanilla protein powder (your favorite type whether it be super high protein, vegan, etc.)

¾ cups of oats

½ cup of maple syrup (+ maybe a bit more depending how dry the mixture gets)

Chocolate topping:

½ cup of darn chocolate chips

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

 

*For the cookies: I used my stand mixer for all of the mixing, but it could easily be done by hand*

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 Celsius and line a baking sheet with compostable parchment paper.

Step 2: Mash the bananas.

Step 3: Add in the pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkins seeds, raisons, almonds, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Mix all ingredients until they’re well incorporated.

Step 4: Add in the protein powder slowly. You’ll notice that the dough begins to come together because the powder acts as a binder.

Step 5: Add in the oats and maple syrup, a bit of each at a time until the mixture becomes the same consistency as cookie dough. If you notice that it’s too dry, add a bit more maple syrup, if it’s too wet and sticky, add some more oats.

Step 6: Roll the dough into small 1 inch balls and place them on your lined baking tray. They won’t spread out, so you can put them relatively close together. Leave about ½ inch between cookies and they’ll do just fine. Bake at 350 for approximately 10 minutes. It won’t take long to cook these bad boys, so keep a close eye on them to avoid burning. Once they’re golden brown, remove them from the oven and let them sit for about 5 minutes. After they’ve cooled enough to touch, transfer them to a cooling rack. You can also just leave them on the tray if you don’t have a cooling rack. They’ll just need a bit more time to cool down.

I should note that steps 7, 8 and 9 are completely optional. The cookies are still hella delicious without the chocolate topping.

Step 7: Take a small pot and fill with about 3 inches of water and turn your stove burner on to medium high. Cover the pot with a heat resistant bowl. This is known as a double boiler. If you use one that’s heat conducting, be careful and be sure to use an oven mitt of towel when you need to manipulate the bowl. Add the chocolate chips and coconut oil to the bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until it’s all melted and mixed together. Turn off the heat on your burner and start dipping the now cooled cookies into the mix.

Step 8: Dip half the cookie in the chocolate, leaving the other half nude. Return the dipped cookie to the cooling rack and allow the chocolate to cool. Repeat this on all
the cookies.

Step 9: Add a small pinch of salt to each cookie. I popped my cookies in the freezer to help speed up the process because frankly, I was too excited to wait to eat them!

Step 10: Enjoy!

These cookies seem to have a lot of steps, but it’s really quite simple. Of course all the ingredient quantities may vary based on what you have on hand. If you’re missing a tablespoon worth of pecans, it’s cool, don’t sweat it. This is a tactic I use often while cooking/baking in an effort to avoid food waste. I like to use up what I have fully. The same goes for if I have a couple of teaspoon extra of sunflower seeds. I’ll throw them into the batch! It’s still epic and now you don’t have to worry about 2 teaspoons of sunflower seeds sitting in your pantry.

For more tips and tricks and recipes, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.

 

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

 

 

 

 

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Earth Hour 2017: What I learned about myself

What the heck is Earth Hour?:

Welcome back friendos! As you may have seen from my FB or Instagram, this weekend I participated in Earth Hour! What is Earth Hour you ask? Earth Hour was held on Saturday March 25th from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm whatever your local time zone is. Basically, it is a global event where everyone turns off their lights during the 1 hour. People, businesses and landmarks all participated this year in over 30 countries. It is meant to be an event to create awareness to climate change.

You can read more about it here: https://www.earthhour.org/

How I enjoyed my hour:

I’m very proud to say that everyone in my house participated in Earth hour this year. We all took to the event differently, the goal of raising awareness and leaving the lights off for the hour was definitely met (WOOT! Way to go fam jam!).

For my part, I decided to read a book that I’ve been working on for quite some time. It’s a hard one to get into and I never dedicate any time to reading it. Having the hour off, I decided I would take the time to read it by candle light. I found candles a few weeks ago while cleaning out the back of a closet in our house. They were kept there for emergency power outages, but were never used. So I used them! 3 to be exact. In case you can’t tell, I’m very big on ‘use it up fully before buying new ones’. We found these ones, so we used these ones. My mom also went into the recycling bin and grabbed out 3 containers to hold the candles. 2 were her dog’s food containers and 1 was from an old cheese product that was finally finished. She fashioned them up in a jiff for me (thanks ma!) and I went to a quiet area and read. I snapped a quick picture (to encourage others through social media, and for the sake of this blog post), then shut off my phone altogether.

What I learned: 

I learned just how quiet a house can get once all the busyness subsides. At the beginning, I found it to be rather eerie. But as time passed and I was finally able to get into my book (since, ya know, I finally dedicated time to it), I grew more and more at peace. It was a rather lovely experience. Nothing worried me, I was not feeling any sort of stress and the candles all placed together created a very pretty illumination on my pages. The more I read, the happier I found myself. I plowed through about 4 chapters within 45 minutes, that’s how entranced I was. I didn’t find myself stopping, I didn’t allow myself to get distracted at all. Honestly though, with nothing going on in the background, there were no distractions! I can confidently say that I found a piece of myself that I didn’t know I was missing. Whether it was brought on by the candle light (fire does have a very primal effect on the brain) or the fact that I was completely unplugged and left to be alone with my thoughts. I don’t exactly know what it was… but I liked it!

Once 9:30 hit, I got up and started finishing the tidying up from the day. In order to keep my peaceful mindset, I kept it by candle light. I turned my phone on for a minute and realized that my connection to this THING was a part of the problem. So I shut it off again and this time for the night. In fact, it was only turned back on the next morning about 2 hours after I woke up. Saturday night, I continued to read in bed by candle light and decided to just drift off to sleep. This is huge for me on a personal level. I have such an unhealthy connection to screens that I am typically unable to fall asleep without watching a show. I always put the sleep timer on the television so I know it won’t run all night, but still! Being so at peace with myself and so happy in my little bubble that I was able to naturally fall asleep. For me that’s huge! There isn’t even any other way to express it! It was huge! The next morning, I continued with the simplicity of just enjoying my own presence (well, my own and the presence of the dog, she needed attention and I was more than happy to give it). I consciously kept my phone off and out of reach while I went on about my day. I took the time to feed the dog, play with her, walk her and enjoy my coffee without any busyness going on in the background. I then took to my book again.

I only resumed with technology (I should really say screens) once everyone else was awake and starting their day. The serenity of the night before and the morning is something that I have longed to experience and won’t soon forget. Don’t get me wrong, I am a general happy person, very optimistic and joyful and eager to pass on my positivity to those around me. Allowing myself to be unplugged has stirred something in me, a yearning for it to become a norm rather than a treat; and I have Earth Hour to thank for this! For without it, I would have never (or at least not yet) made this self-discovery and I would still be living my life, content with my screen addiction.

For updates on this self-discovery or more tips and tricks to living Zero Waste, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free; where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

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Misconceptions about Zero Waste

Good day everyone! I’ve noticed something recently that I’d like to address. I’ve been hearing more and more negative rumours about Zero Waste and I’d like to lay them to rest. There are so many people who are interested in it, but a few things deter them. Below are my top 7 misconceptions I hear about the Zero Waste Lifestyle and some ways around them!

  1. I can never go out to eat…ever!

It’s about eliminating any excessive amounts waste. Not restricting your social life! When I go out, I make sure to order no straw and no plastic in my meal and I’m fine. Also, by bringing a container with me in my purse, I eliminate the need for a takeout container.

  1. I can only eat healthy food.

I have noticed that since my transition, I do eat better. The food we buy in bulk is often the better option; but let me tell you something. I have no shame in admitting that I have a full on candy addiction. I consume what my husband calls a ‘dangerous and irresponsible amount of candy’ in a week. I just buy it in bulk, along with my chips and pretzels. So munch on my junk food loving friends. Munch on!

  1. I’d have no social life, it’s too restricting.

I get asked this a lot, and I never fully know how to answer. The idea of what constitutes a social life is unique to everyone. Personally, I am perfectly content with playing board games and relaxing on the weekends. Or going out for a nice coffee with my girlfriends to talk about what’s new in our lives; or even going out to celebrate achievements or accomplishments with family. I can do all this and not create any extra waste. It’s all in your attitude towards it. Even if you like to go out to party until the sunrise, there are always options for you! Don’t worry! You’re only restricted by your own imagination.

  1. It’s too hard.

At first it is an adjustment. But I never found it too hard. Overall, the learning curve has been enjoyable and interesting. I do things now that I never have, but they’re not more difficult than before. I still need to go grocery shopping right? I still need to make my lists and everything; I just bring jars and my own bags along. Once the adjustment has been made, it’ll be like any other shopping trip.

  1. All I’d do is food prep and dishes.

I’ll give you this one. I do more food prep than the average person, but I genuinely believe it’s because I enjoy it. I take my time and I organize and I taste as I cook. I love the process of cooking from scratch. I could do without the dishes, but I understand that it’s a part of the package. That being said, NOT EVERYONE spends as much time in the kitchen as I do. There are still super quick meal options for you to eat as a Zero Waster. It’s also about balance; you need to find what works for you. Again, with the learning curve I mentioned earlier, you may feel that you do more of this stuff, but it won’t last. You won’t be a newbie forever.

  1. It’s so crazy expensive.

I buy only what I need. I don’t buy giant containers of stuff that will eventually go bad; essentially throwing your hard earned cash in the trash. That being said, I spend less money on average per shop, since I only buy what I intend to use. I avoid unnecessary purchases, unnecessary food waste and unnecessary spending by doing so. Also, buying something that is of good quality, that will last for years to come may seem like the more expensive choice in the moment, but in the long term, replacing something that is cheap and throwing it away more often is definitely the more expensive option. So no, I do not find that it is crazy expensive. I have a budget that I need to follow too, and I very rarely go over it.

  1. There’s no point since the whole world won’t change.

It’s taken me a long time to come to grips with this and I can understand the point behind it. It’s absolutely disheartening going to a coffee shop with my reusable mug and noticing 10 other people in line, waiting for their coffees that will be served in disposable paper cups. It can be rough walking past a garbage can that is over flowing with trash while you carry your compostables home to make sure they get disposed of responsibly. I’m going to tell you something and I’d like you to listen well. NOT EVERYONE will want this lifestyle; and as much as you would want to, you can’t force anyone into wanting it. This is a choice that you need to make for you and you alone. Yes, every little bit you do does count towards the greater good. Yes, I feel as though it’s still worth it, but it’s YOUR journey, not Sally or Joe’s or Colin’s, YOURS! Do it because you feel that you want to make the change. Do it because you want to lower your eco foot print. Don’t avoid doing it because the world as a whole doesn’t see its benefit. If we used this excuse for everything, we would be nowhere as a society. “That’s the way it’s always been done” is not an excuse to not follow what you think is right. Break the mould and move forward.

So there you have it, the top 7 misconceptions that I’ve noticed floating around recently. I’m hoping I put those pesky rumours about this lifestyle to rest now.

For tips and tricks, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free, where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!