Hi, sweet friends!
In this series, I’m going to talk to you about the awesome zero-waste Melbourne. I spend as little money as possible, keep being healthy, and still keep having fun. Yess, I always want it all without restricting myself. And yes, so can you! This post is going to help you with that. To give you an insight, Melbourne is a pretty expensive city. Though if you know your way around, you can do it on the extra cheap. The usual low-budget backpacker spends here around 20 AUD a day. I tell you, how to spend the same amount per WEEK!
Keeping your meals zero – waste in Melbourne
When I’m on the lookout for food, I always look for yummy, healthy, vegan, cheap food and without any packaging (or reusable packaging like glass or compostable plastics is still okay).
My top tips for you are these:
- Buy food only at the markets or non-packaged in supermarkets if there’s an option
There’s the Queen Victoria market open every day except Mondays. You can get here some awesome fresh produce for unbelievably cheap prices. If you’re on a hunt for yummy good quality food, this is your must stop.
When shopping for fruits and veggies at the Victoria market, the more far away you go from the main building the cheaper it gets. .) Typically I buy here food for 15 – 20 AUD for the whole week. Also, if you come right before closing, sellers like to get rid of their stuff so you might get some great deals around this time.
I got all of this for the only 3AUD.
- Dumpster dive
I know looking for food in the bin isn’t for everyone. Nonetheless, once you let go of your ego and try it, you won’t believe how much good food (or anything) you can get for free in the bin. And it’s so much fun!
If you come to Victoria market (or possibly to any other one) right before closing I guarantee you’ll find here some awesome stuff. Tons of stuff. Good ones. Always. Every. Single. Time. Just look for it. And you might even meet some like-minded travelers who’ll join you.
You’ll get your food for free, you’ll recycle, and help minimize the waste on this planet. On top of that, you’ll discover new types of veggies that you had no idea that even existed. Recently I found a Korean type of mushrooms and found out I have a new favorite mushroom since then.
My friends say that once they started dumpster diving they’ve even become much better cooks. So, maybe give it a try! (If not, stick to the market’s sellers great deals)
- Buy in glass or paper and then reuse
When I arrived I had no containers to store my meals in. I was happy to buy things in long-lasting materials and then have free containers ready to use. Also, I make my own cosmetics, so I know I can use it for that too.
Make sure when you buy something in a glass you already know what you’re going to do with container afterward. Recycling should be your last option. (Why? Post on that’s coming soon!)
Once you get enough of the containers, you can just shop in a bulk. All you need is your produce bags and you’re good to go. At the markets, bulk food shops, co-ops this option is always available.
- Go vegan or at least vegetarian
Ah, veganism. Such a topic… But don’t worry, in this post I’m not going to try to convince you to go vegan. However, if you’d like to save some $$ and a little bit of planet too, you might want to consider this at least for those reasons.
Because, can you get a good quality inexpensive meat? No. Veggies and fruits? Yes!
About the planet, did you know that cows emit methane to the air through their farts? Methane is 84 more times powerful than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere. This creates a more rapid warming effect than other greenhouse gases.
Also, the huge production of meat requires massive amounts of land for livestock. This is one of the reasons why deforestation occurs too. If you love forests and want to help save them, stopping eating meat is the minimum you can do.
- Shop at bulk food stores (As the last option)
Bulk stores are awesome! But no so much if you’re a broke backpacker. Haha.
Even though you’ll get the top quality product here – tasty, super-duper organic, local and fair-trade, the price will usually be at its tops too. This is why bulk stores are my last option most of the times.
First time I arrived I went crazy and bought probably everything they had in The Source. I felt so happy I had this option in Melbourne. Later though I realized how quickly I was spending most of my money just to buy food without packaging. Crazy right?
I always thought that food scraps aren’t bad for the planet as they’re just food, natural stuff.
However, not true! If food scraps are chucked in the bin along with other waste, they release methane into the air, polluting it (here we go again). This is why we should compost.
If you only travel, you probably don’t feel like creating your own worm farm or a composter. Me neither, so I found a different solution.
The app called ShareWaste available on Android app store. It’s free to download and allows you to find people or local farms nearby which are looking for more compost. You can contact the farms via the app and hand them your food scraps whenever you have time.
I’m based in North Melbourne so I bring my food scraps to Kensington where they actually have compost bins just like that on the street. I love that! You can even find their compost bins map on google maps.
- Bring your own reusable water bottle
Obviously, there’s nothing like free tap water. I never understood the logic behind buying the bottled water (unless you’re in a country where it’s necessary). I use my stainless steel water bottle. It’s long-lasting and lighter than having a glass one.
In Australia, there are free water taps around the cities almost everywhere. To help you locate these, there’s an app available on Android called GiveMeTap enabling you to find free water taps.
- Eat out at these places
Now, you probably think: “Yes Kristina, that all sounds cool but I don’t want just eat and cook at home unable to go out with my friends and experience the city scene.”
I totally get that! So, I’m sharing here the list of my favorite restaurants as well.
- Lentils as Anything. Probably the most amazing thing about Melbourne. It’s a vegan community restaurant where you pay as you feel. Works completely only on donations and volunteers help. The food is delicious, they often have an open buffet, concerts, karaoke and the whole concept is just awesome.
- Craft and Co. Free beers every Friday.
- Om Vegetarian. 7,50 AUD for open plate menu (eat as much as you can).
- Kere Kere cafe. Sometimes they have free coffee or food events.
- Coffee is usually pretty cheap everywhere.
- Coffee out – bring your own cup
When I got to Australia I noticed that the ‘coffee to go’ culture is much stronger here than anywhere else I’ve ever been to. Although I try to quit coffee now I still like to go with the flow sometimes and get my takeaway coffee too.
Normally, I keep my reusable coffee cup in my bag and bring it everywhere. (Because in Melbourne you never know when you’re going to feel like coffee.)
Yet, if for some reason I don’t have it I just ask for coffee without the nasty plastic lid and try to reuse the paper cup afterward as many times as possible. When the cup isn’t usable anymore, I compost it.
Well, that’s it for today. Hope this helps! If you have any questions or more tips to share I’m all excited to know! Just comment below.
***Stay tuned on my next post on a low budget, low – waste self-care in Melbourne.