“Soggy, Smelly, Rotten Muck”

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Originally published in SWINE Student Magazine Issue Nine (May)

To some, that string of words may be repulsive, to others it is more than nature at its finest, it is home. With this graphic imagery, I invite you to place yourself in the shoes of someone who lives zero waste – which could well mean no shoes at all.

Probably smelling of a concoction of essential oils, you are a vigorously prepared and creative person that makes the conscious effort every day to refuse using products burdened with complex disposal rituals.

Single use? No thank you. Chemicals? Yuck. Plastic? Sorry, did you say the Devil?

These are just a few of the products you choose to break free from, which makes your life improvised and satisfying.

You walk past shops and all your eco-friendly mind can see is a linear system of production on a finite planet. You weep at the sight of gleaming stores with pretty wrappings next to overfilled public bins, sometimes known as train stations (any hipster stopping at Vic Park would understand the gravity of just how similar to a tip that station is).

You know deep down that all these resources being used for our culture’s entertainment will one day run out, we cannot subtract from Earth at the pace in which we produce, consume, and inevitably dispose of without hitting a major brick wall. Earth’s resources were never infinite, despite what big companies tell us. With your Jesus like beard (ladies don’t deny your facial hair) you rush past, mason jars clinking in your canvas tote bag, and you restrain the urge to preach and advocate for a more ecologically sustainable future.

Now you’re probably wondering why you have mason jars in your bag. This brings us to your passion for reusing. Had to buy a jar of sauce that one time you were too poor (or lazy, or both) to cook your own from scratch? No worries amigo, that jar has now become your ethical fair-trade sugar’s new home! You can now add it with all your other reusable and non-plastic containers neatly decorating your house. How exciting, you have a little glass jar to take to the store in which you may place your ethical sugar in. You’ve officially cut out the nasty middle man and rid yourself of any single use packaging.

What’s that? The store doesn’t have ethical sugar in bulk bins? They have recyclable packaging in smaller quantities? Well it’s not the end of the world (yet) so recycling will do just fine.

Once your humble abode is stocked with enough miscellaneous goods, the next step your little self does is recycle. We’re talking properly this time, get all up in your sinks grill and wash away any residue from your containers before placing any paper, foil, cardboard or plastic in the recycling bin. If the miscellaneous object is a bit inappropriate to recycle (we’re talking clothes, bags, tables), never underestimate the power of giving. If the object is fit for a second hand store, by all means there is no better way to recycle something than allowing you trash to be someone’s treasure.

When you’re a zero waste, bearded Jesus you find in time you start to treasure everything, especially what Mother Nature does best – rot. Ah yes, rotting is a great and essential skill to uphold. Composting all your organic tea bags and vegetable based leftovers is essential to living zero waste, and to establishing a more wholesome home within the Ecology. The acceptance of allowing teeny tiny life forms to remould what you are done with shows that your moral and justice driven consciousness acknowledges that zero waste doesn’t mean “no waste,” it simply means accepting the nature of matter to change form and use. What once was a banana peel is now turned into nutrition for your succulent, home grown tomatoes and copious amounts of parsley.

Living zero waste means so much more than reorganising you time and habits, it means making this world your home. Reconnecting with your creativity, respecting the cycle of nature and stripping yourself free from consumerist ideals. Don’t worry about what they say, your beard really does bring out your eyes, and your heart has grown three times more now that you’ve found a sense of belonging within Mother Nature.

Words by Ana Tinc

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