an intentional week with no waste | #zerowasteweek

zero waste week - grow your own food
Today was the first full week back at work. Before the energy I got during my vacation can vanish, I decided to use my new found motivation and have a Zero Waste Week of my own.

The official Zero Waste Week is every year during the first week of September and starts this year on Monday, 4th September. It is an awareness campaign for householders, business, schools & unis, local authorities and community groups hosted by Rachelle Strauss. The goal? Reduce the amount of trash going to landfill.

Every year has a new theme and if you are interested, join HERE.


I decided to take the Zero Waste Week and have my own. My goal was “to save money and natural resources”. I already did the waste audit recommended by the Zero Waste Week. Look at your trash and ask yourself: why is it in there and could I have avoided it? After doing that a couple of times, I wanted this week to be a step further: spend no money if possible and create no trash or recycling material (paper, glass, plastic, aluminum), but use up what I have at home.

That was the plan. Then I returned from my vacation and my freezer had room temperature. All my carefully frozen lunches, leftovers and summer fruit were gone. Not really a pleasant experience, nor ideal to avoid grocery shopping this week. Well, couldn’t back out now: challenge accepted 😉


Do you want to know how I did? Read on and maybe even get a few saving tips for yourself:


Food, food, food.

I like to eat and I like to eat a lot. As I didn’t want to spend any money on groceries, the first saving idea was simply to eat less. It may not sound like the most attractive step to start with. All jokes aside, this saves not only money but also some pounds on my hips. Let’s be honest, even if I skip a meal now and then, I still get the necessary calories to survive. And apparently, dinner cancelling is even healthy 😉

The second idea was at least as obvious: use up food I already had at home. Comb through your fridge, freezer and cupboards and get creative! “Thanks” to the blackout during my vacation, the freezer and fridge were practically empty. And as I shop mostly package-free anyway, I did not have any packaging at home, which I could have thrown away.

Most of the food in my fridge was freshly harvested fruit and vegetables from the garden: completely without packaging. Zero Waste Chef has a ton of ideas online on how to avoid (food) waste in the kitchen. Even food scraps that seem like organic waste can be saved from the compost and used for delicious soups or pesto. Speaking of compost, of course, I collected my organic waste as usual because I want to return the valuable nutrients back to the natural nutrient cycle.


For breakfast, I had fruit and muesli. I usually buy my museli at Der Greissler and pour it in my own glass jar to avoid any trash. I could have had yoghurt from a Fairteiler, but it came in the usual plastic-paper-aluminum packaging and I did not want to give up my zero waste week resolution so easily. Instead, I used what I had and made applesauce for my muesli. #useitup

I drank my morning coffee ant home for a change. I bought the beans in my own can at Wiener Rösthaus. To make things a little harder, I currently try to reduce my dairy consumption (and I would not have had any milk at home anyways). So instead of contributing to the ever increasing greenhouse gases, I looked for a more sustainable alternative. Lucky me, I found semi-new cashews in my cupboard and tried this recipe for coffee with cashew milk. Tasted surprisingly delicious and was so easy to make!

Related: zero waste shopping trip #1: Der Greissler and beyond 1080 Vienna


My office is awesome for many reasons, but one of them is that we cook for lunch. On most days, one colleague prepares lunch for everyone else. This means everyone cooks once or twice each month and gets “free” meals for the rest of the time. This doesn’t only save money, but cooking time as well. And because we are so many, we rarely have leftovers. <3 #fightingfoodwaste

I had my turn last week and did not have to cook this week. Oh, and on days when nobody is cooking, I bring food from home.

(If you would like to know how I cook for 15 people package-free and for less than 35€ without a lot of fuss, let me know and I write a whole blog post!)


Dinner was either leftovers, dinner cancelling or an invitation from my parents. No worries, I know it is not sustainable to live off invitations only 😉 I will return the favor!

As I did not want to give up my social life, I decided to take my dinner with me and have not only one, but two picnics. I actually like to get creative with leftovers: zucchini and tomatoes from the garden, chanterelles from the forest and apple strudel from my parents (although I fought hard to get the apple strudel, so technically it does not count as a leftover ^^). I tried to cook smaller portions and could use the zucchini for three meals.


On Monday, I will have a blog post on foraging for you. Free food 😛 Stay tuned!



Leisure activities and sport.

Fun activities do not have to be expensive. I enjoyed the last mild summer evenings at the free film festival at the Rathausplatz (Mumford and Sons – dust and thunder!) and at a swimming pond. Free entrance after 18:00! Unfortunately, I was there earlier and paid €3.50. Just to show you that you can find many free events in the city.

If you want to support good causes while doing so, I can recommend fun events such as the Cycling Cinema. Bike to create the energy for the film screening 🙂

Bonus: free events rarely have tickets or entry wristbands which you have to throw away afterwards.

I could avoid all disposables because I brought my reusable water bottle and my own food. Although, the offer reusable dishware at the Rathausplatz! Do not forget to say no to straws 😉


Furthermore, I finished my book this week and quickly got another one from the library. My sister gave me the annual fee for my Christmas present – one of the most useful and best presents! I am happy and thankful every time I borrow a book. What else could you want?!


I did not have to pay anything to do sports this week. No membership fees or fancy, resource-intense sporting equipment was necessary to go running and to do yoga. To be honest, my running shoes have holes already. However, I do not want to buy any newly produced goods at the moment. If I would, I would go to my favorite local running shop (Laufsport Blutsch). Support your local businesses if you can!

My sports clothes are either ancient or second hand. It saves a lot of resources and money to look for pre-loved clothes before buying newly produced ones.



At home.

No trash was necessary to keep me and my home clean. I used chestnuts to wash my clothes and soap to wash myself. I still try to finish a bottle of an eco-friendly detergent. It was rather easy to avoid packaging if I did not buy any new products.



What I learned.

Once again, I was surprised how often I was going to “just quickly” go to the store and by something. As soon as I think of something to buy, I could go and buy it. No planning necessary. Holes in the running shoes? Buy new ones. Yoghurt instead of apple sauce? Quick walk to the supermarket. It is so unbelievably easy to order something from home these days. Just one click and you bought something without even starting to think of a sustainable alternative. Let alone, not buying anything at all.

Another surprise were my full kitchen cupboards. Food stored in there spoils not as easily and I tend to forget it is in there. I buy dry goods more often than necessary. And of course: this week would have been not as tasty if I would have not gotten so many meals from colleagues and family.

I tried to spend nothing, but ended up with a few expenses. I paid for the swimming pond and the public transport there (€2.60 return ticket). However, I did not mind the tickets because I could avoid the even higher costs of the CO2 emissions I would have caused if I would have taken my boyfriend’s car. What I could have avoided were the €0.50 for the toilet facility at the Rathausplatz. Just so you know, men do not have to pay for the urinal…

Although I try to live a zero waste life and my motivation to use as few resources as possible is “probably” higher than for most people, I still find little things I do not want to miss. Comfort is just so seductive…

Related: How to trick yourself into living a sustainable life


As you can see, a zero waste week is possible and helps you to save money 😉 Do you want to join? Just in case, here is the link: Zero Waste Week – sign up


What do you like to do the most to save money and resources? I would really like to know! Tell me in the comments below 🙂


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