Ashlee Beaumont is a Wellingtonian at heart, and is currently studying computer science. If she could have it her way, she would be studying a thousand different things. She has a thirst for knowledge and experience, which manifests itself in the many projects she has going at any one time. One such project is What the Vegan, an online boutique store founded in December 2015, which sells hand-crafted, cruelty-free and eco-friendly products that anyone can use. Being aware of the role that humanity plays in the health of the environment, Ashlee does what she can to make change. Whether it be reusable food wraps and bags, metal straws, or bamboo hairbrushes, she uses What the Vegan to share with the world the importance of zero-waste. When Ashlee’s not at university or working on her business, you will find her teaching gymnastics, visiting local fruit and vege markets, conjuring the best damn vegan food you’ve ever tasted, and ultimately, just being the compassionate young woman that she is.
For some strange reason, I’d really like future generations to have somewhere to live… I’ve always been this way. My idea of a “year 13 prank” was to vacuum the school so there was no litter. This isn’t to say I’ve always lived by zero waste principles. Maybe deep down inside, but in practice, it just wasn’t happening.
At the end of last year I was looking for a place to live and managed to find a place with a group of likeminded humans. This was when my zero waste adventure began. One of my flatmates was (and still is) Amber Brooks. Amber’s inspiration to become zero waste was sparked by Hannah and Liam (the amazing humans behind The Rubbish Trip). This girl taught me the ABC’s of recycling and reducing waste. Since then my life has changed drastically.
Together, Amber, Jaden (Amber’s sibling) and I have maintained a somewhat zero waste flat and tried various ways of reducing our waste further including using avocados in baking (IT WORKS… sometimes) instead of butter; using the Kaicycle service that runs in Wellington to compost our fruit and vegetable scraps even though we’re now in an apartment; and using silicon baking mats to avoid using both baking paper and oil! This year I even managed to get all my landfill waste to fit into this jar.
My next step is to see how I can reduce this further.
On top of this, I run a small online store called What The Vegan with my wonderful friend Thorne. Initially this was all about selling vegan products (vegan leather cases etc) but with a lot of thought, our direction has been altered. We’ve taken on board everything we’ve learnt about zero waste and started creating vegan wax food wraps and drawstring bags to purchase bulk foods. Everything we sell on the website is created by us, by hand, out of upcycled fabrics. This ensures minimal amounts of waste and a low carbon footprint.
The first time I ever bring up zero waste with friends or when they bring it up with me, this all sounds a bit insane. It is. Especially if you don’t consider yourself a greenie. But it becomes part of everyday life and honestly makes life much cheaper and easier. You learn to live with less stuff and make the most of what you already have. If this all sounds wild and you have no intention of being a zero waster anytime soon, here a few little tips:
- When buying packaged things, make sure you can reuse the packaging. For instance, glass jars or bottles. We reuse the jars for sauces, lunches, kombucha, buttons, ANYTHING.
- Check out the fruit and vege markets in your area. Especially in Wellington. There are the Newtown Markets on a Saturday morning down at the primary school and the Waterfront and Victoria St fruit markets on a Sunday morning.
- TAKE YOUR OWN BAGS!!! My biggest pet peeve is seeing people using plastics bags when they’re going to the supermarket/fruit markets. It’s not that hard to take your own. Even your backpack will do.
This post is part of our blog series “A Waste of Time?: Preaching to ‘the converted’”. You can read about the origin and kaupapa of this series here.