Inside a zero-waste home

From Nights, 7:12 pm on 17 May 2017

Liam Prince and Hannah Blumhardt have been living zero-waste in Wellington for over two years now. They send nothing to landfill, use no more than one wheelie bin for recycling a year and buy no disposable plastic.

Hannah Blumhardt and Liam Prince

Hannah Blumhardt and Liam Prince Photo: Supplied

"One day I was like 'Wouldn't it be great to live without a rubbish bin? So I googled it, as you do" says Hannah.

Her search revealed Bea Johnson, a woman The New York Times calls 'the high priestess of waste-free living". Johnson has kept a zero-waste home since 2008. (The same year, New Zealand couple Waverly Warth and Matthew Luxon ditched home waste.)

So when Prince and Blumhardt came back to New Zealand a couple of years ago after living in Europe, they simply didn't get a rubbish bin.

The couple follow the waste hierarchy known as the 5 Rs, which Blumhardt summaries as:

  • Refuse what you do not need
  • Reduce what you may need but not so much of
  • Reuse whatever you can
  • Recycle (as a last resort)
  • Everything else Rots (in your home compost)

They focus most on the third – Reuse – she says.

"If you took every house in the country and you shook it upside down, all these bags and containers and jars would fall out. People already have in their house everything they need to drastically reduce their waste."

Many assume the zero-waste lifestyle is time-consuming, the couple say, but if you're prepared and organised in certain ways, you end up saving time.

The rare times they visit a supermarket it's a fly-through as they're only visiting two sections – the bulk bins (where they fill their own bags) and the produce section (for unwrapped fruit and vegetables).

And 'popping to the shop' doesn't happen multiple times a week as they're not always carrying their cloth shopping bags.

Prince and Blumhardt are travelling around the country this July with their waste-free living roadshow The Rubbish Trip.