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The stress-free guide to zero-waste living with Anita Vandyke

Orlova Maria

“Zero waste life means not only reducing your waste, but also not wasting your life.” Anita Vandyke

The term ‘zero-waste’ is so emotive isn’t it? It simultaneously sounds wonderfully inspiring and overwhelmingly difficult, bringing to mind tiny jars of rubbish and endless hours of DIY.

I personally love seeing those glass jars containing a year’s worth of rubbish and have definitely been known to make my own deodorant and toothpaste, but I’m always thrilled to meet a zero-waste advocate who understands how overwhelming ‘zero waste’ can seem to those just beginning the journey.

Enter my wonderful guest this week, Anita Vandyke, a zero waste activist, literal rocket scientist, medical student, author and all-round breath of fresh air. Anita brings a new, more practical perspective to the zero waste lifestyle, and in this episode she and I talk about her journey to living a zero waste life, the impact of her cultural and familial upbringing on her choice to simplify life, tips for helping people get started and so much more.

Anita talks about her life a few years ago as a self-described ‘maximalist’, how she went from working in corporate engineering at the height of her career to being burnt out, and having to quit her job and step back for six months to think about what she wanted in life.

She talks about her cultural background, as her parents immigrated to Australia from China during the communist regime, and how this informed her value of money, power and status in her early 20s, as well as her work ethic, but also how her upbringing cemented her understanding of living minimally. She talks about her discovery of this very podcast during that six month break, and how this, combined with other resources, volunteering, meditating and economic necessity started her on the journey of simplifying her life and decreasing her waste.

Now Anita is studying medicine and has just written a book, called ‘A Zero Waste Life: In 30 Days’. Her scientific background means her approach to zero waste living is incredibly practical, with a creative, problem-solving bent to help you make small changes in your everyday life. Her focus is accessibility, and I really love her three-tiered approach to adopting zero waste strategies to any issue: 1) dipping your toe in, 2) living low waste and 3) living zero waste.

This podcast is full of so many nuggets of wisdom and great ideas for approaching a slower, more simple life. Start where you are, take stock, ask for help and stick to the 80/20 rule are just some my main takeaways. If you’re looking for further inspiration and advice on how to begin or level-up your own zero waste efforts, I can highly recommend Anita’s new book (which is being released on July 4th – only a few days before the North American release of my second book, SLOW.)

Enjoy!

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Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 4.5 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

 

An interview with Ben

“Living at the edge of your comfort zone is not going to be comfortable, but that’s where you expand, that’s where you grow and learn and change.”

Today’s episode is a little different. After some 200-odd episodes of the poggie, where I’ve shared so much of my own journey, so many of my own struggles and discoveries and lessons, we were well overdue for an episode where the focus was solely on Ben.

Over the years I’ve been asked many times about what this whole slow living thing has been like for him. What it’s like for someone who works in the corporate sector, for someone who worked long hours, someone who didn’t have the privilege of taking a few years to find out what was important and then gradually put it at the centre of his life. For someone who is married to me.

So today, I ask him all those questions. And honestly, it gets a little raw.

I’m not going to tell you any more about it because it really is worth a listen, but I do want you to know that this was a really enjoyable, uncomfortable yet comforting, healing, illuminating conversation for both Ben and I, and I’m genuinely thrilled to be able to share it with you.

Thank you for being here. xx

——

Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 4.5 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

 

Rob Greenfield on the enormous power of small changes

“Radical transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It starts with one small change, and then another one, and then another one.” — Rob Greenfield

Over the years I’ve found that one of the biggest obstacles to making positive change is a sense of hopelessness. What can I do? What difference will I make? Why does it matter? Who cares what one person does?

I’ve asked myself those exact questions countless times as I’m faced with the impotency of my own efforts. Whether it’s reducing plastic consumption and waste, making ethical clothing and food choices, supporting organisations trying to make a difference or showing kindness in the face of anger or aggression, I so often falter when I realise that me and my changes are merely a single drop in a very large ocean. I may pat myself on the back for avoiding plastic for an entire day, only to walk home and see hundreds of straws and cigarette butts littering the street. Boom. Demoralised.

In today’s episode I explore this issue with my guest, the inspiring and change-making Rob Greenfield, a self-described ‘dude making a difference’, and someone with a fascinating perspective on what is required in order to have a positive impact on the world.

Rob is an activist, environmentalist and legend, and is very good at raising people’s awareness of an issue by doing big, bold things to grab our attention. In 2016 he collected the amount of rubbish the average American creates in a month, strapped it to his body and wore it around New York City like a big old swollen trash suit. It’s a sight to behold and certainly succeeded in gaining attention to the massive issue of plastic waste.

But on the flip side, he’s also been the person making small, consistent change in his own life and in today’s conversation we talk about why that’s such an important lesson to learn, and one which will often lead to bigger changes down the line.

10 years ago Rob was living what he calls a “typical American life”. He was driven by money and ideas of success, obsessed with his car and didn’t consider the impact of his choices on the planet or the people around him. As he began to travel and broaden his horizons Rob began reading books and watching documentaries about the state of the world, and the more he learned, the more he realised he had to change.

So he did. Slowly, one step at a time. Rob talks about the fact that making positive changes in your life is a has a snowball effect, and we both agree that while this slow steady approach might seem frustrating or overwhelming at first, it really is the only way to go.  He breaks down the changes he made, and how these eventually fed into the big, bold experiments and projects he’s become known for.

We also talk about how he communicates these changes to the people around him, the idea of comfort zones, change and societal norms, as well as the need to practice compassion and get good it at, just like building any other muscle or skill. He shares an amazing story about a man named Guitar Johnny, that has stuck with me for many months and is such a simple and beautiful example of what it looks like to live with compassion and forgiveness.

It’s incredibly inspiring to hear Rob share so honestly about his life, and is a much-needed reminder that we can all make choices in our daily lives to have a more positive impact on the world.

I’m also really excited to see how Rob goes with his next project – growing or foraging 100% of his food for a whole year, and I’ve linked to this project in the show notes below.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this episode and take solace in the knowledge that every single change matters. No matter how big or small.

——

Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 4.5 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

 

Daily Creativity: Part 5 – A Slow Experiment

Wang Xi

What an unexpectedly beautiful ride this month of daily creativity has been! In today’s poggie Ben and I wrap up our May experiment with a recap of our own efforts and realisations, as well as a whole heap of fascinating research in to the benefits (both obvious and not-so-obvious) of cultivating a daily creative practice.

I began this experiment with a particular creative output in mind (starting a novel for 8-12 year olds) but have delighted in the way my practice has evolved as I’ve begun to let go of perfection, expectations and particular outputs. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve moved away from writing the story down, instead choosing to make it up it chapter-by-chapter every night as I put the kids to bed. And can I tell you, that shift has been both challenging and liberating.

Some nights I’ve got the goods and will lay next to the kids for half an hour, building and weaving a new world for all of us to explore. Other nights it comes slow and clunky, and I find myself asking for their ideas to fill some of the gaping holes in my story. And while I used to think that was a failing on my part (if I can’t do it perfectly straight away then what’s the point?) but this experiment has shown me that the benefits of creativity are rarely attached to the final outcome. Instead, daily creativity has seen me increase my compassion and empathy, feel more playful and content, and I’ve rediscovered the joy of process over product.

These benefits are reflected in the research into the benefits of creativity, and Ben and I spend the rest of the episode diving in to what those benefits are and why they’re so important. The ones that blew my mind most of all:

  • drawing, painting, sculpting and expressive writing have all been proven to help people deal with and process different kinds of trauma, by allowing them to access and express emotions that can be difficult to articulate otherwise
  • writing by hand can help boost memory and effective learning (as opposed to typing, which doesn’t have the same impact)
  • play-acting or theatresports can lead to improved psychological wellbeing, problem-solving and word recall, with the benefit lasting up to four weeks
  • expressive writing can help with chronic pain management
  • music therapy has been proven to boost the immune system in some participants, as well as change and improve responses to stress
  • expressive writing has also been linked to the increased production of a white blood cell called the CD4+ lymphocyte, which is key to a well-functioning immune system (or put another way: writing actually helps our bodies build a stronger immune system…)

Now I don’t know about you, but this list of benefits blows my mind. To see not only that creativity can help us to feel better emotionally, but is also good for us physically is just incredible and is certainly not something I expected when we started the experiment a few weeks ago.

But like so many elements of slow living, we now find that there is a strong thread that connects so many parts of life: Creativity impacts our mental health. Walking in nature can help us fight off a virus. Deep breathing can reduce stress. Sharing a kindness with a stranger can increase our sense community. The more we experiment, the more connections we discover and the more convinced I am that slowing down and learning to live more intentionally really can help us change the world.

Now, if that sounds a little too lofty for you (perhaps you’re thinking, “I don’t even have time for five minutes of creativity, I don’t think I can manage changing the world!”) we also round out today’s episode with a list, courtesy of Psychology Today, of ways to incorporate creativity in to your daily life, no additional time or equipment necessary:

  • if you find yourself disagreeing with someone, choose to respond in the exact opposite way you normally would and see if the shift in perspective changes things
  • take a different route to work
  • spend time daydreaming and see if it allows you to reframe a problem you’re trying to solve
  • get ahead on a project you’re working on, and avoid the creativity vampire that is deadline procrastination
  • think about a problem you’re trying to solve before going to bed, and let your brain churn it over while you sleep

We’ve loved watching your #slowexperiment posts on Instagram this month (so many delicious cakes and gorgeous gardens!) and would love to know how you found the experiment. Did you discover, or re-discover, a creative passion? Did you unlock an unexpected benefit of creative time? Did you struggle with perfectionism or playfulness?

In the meantime, enjoy the episode and, as always, thank you for listening.

——

Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 4.5 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

Daily Creativity: Part 4 – A Slow Experiment

rawpixel

One of the things I’ve struggled with for many years (all the years maybe?) is play. To allow myself to let go, get silly, not worry about the optics or the outcome or the why of what I’m doing, and just tap in to the playfulness of the moment.

Ben and I recorded a month-long experiment back in 2016 where we tried to play every day, and it was both wonderful and difficult. I’m not sure if it’s the perfectionistic tendencies I’ve had since I was a kid, or if it’s fear of looking silly or making a mistake, or even simply a lack of practice, but I found it really challenging.

This months’s daily creativity experiment is proving much the same as over the past four weeks I’ve had to learn to let go of the end product and learn to enjoy playing around in the process. Unlike the play experiment, however, this time I feel like I’ve finally figured out why it’s important to simply play around. It’s not so that I can ‘achieve’ playfulness or get that giddy high I sometimes get when playing hide and seek or sketching something random that caught my eye, but so that my brain can revel in the unstructured. So that I can roll around in ideas and playfulness and be free to connect dots in more creative ways…or not.

Letting go of outcome is undoubtedly a challenge for many of us in a world that is transfixed by product and end result (and the quicker the better thankyouverymuch) but what I’ve realised this month is that forgetting about output and audience, and doing something just for the joy of it is a challenge worth exploring.

In today’s poggie Ben and I talk about our creative practice over the past week, and I share specifically how I’ve been practicing playfulness and perfectionism. And here’s a hot tip for you: off-the-cuff story-telling is a great way to let go of being good.

We talk about the notion of self-worth and why it’s been important for me to acknowledge and shift my view of my own worth in order to let go of some of the perfectionism I’ve carried around, which brings us to the idea of courage and creativity and why I think the two are closely intertwined. It turns out that letting go of output, turning inwards and simply revelling in the process of creating brings us closer to our own struggles, fears, beliefs and judgements, and by choosing to obsess over the end result, we can keep those things at a distance. When we let go of those fears and judgements, even for a few moments a day, we are being courageous. We are learning to be honest with ourselves. We are fully embracing what it is to be whole and flawed and human, and while it’s challenging, I truly believe it’s so worthwhile.

I know many of you also struggle with playfulness and letting go of the end result (the emails and messages we received after the play experiment back in 2016 are a testament to that) so this week we’d love to offer up a little challenge – if you struggle with playfulness, try setting an alarm and spending 10 minutes doing something fun and playful. Simply let go of judgment and try to find the joy in the challenge. It might take some practice, but as someone who struggles with play I’ve never once regretted making the time for it.

We round out today’s episode with a quick book tour update too. It’s getting closer now, and I think we should be able to share the majority of our itinerary with you next week!

In the meantime, enjoy your week and here’s to more play!

——

Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

Recently we hit the mind-blowing number of 4.5 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! This is all thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!