Real Life

"We only fill one bin a year!" Mum shares her top tips to reduce waste

In Nic’s house, a year of rubbish can 
fit in the palm of her hand!

When Nic Turner drags her wheelie bin to the kerb, it rattles with a few broken toys that couldn't be fixed or recycled. The only other things in there are some worn-out fabric from her family's well-loved clothes.

"We made one small change at a time" Nic says. *Pictures exclusive to Woman's Day.*
"We made one small change at a time" Nic says. Pictures exclusive to Woman's Day.

Unlike her recycling bin that's placed on the street every two months, it's rare to see a rubbish bin outside Nic's home because, incredibly, she and her husband Mike Ryan produce just one binful of garbage a year.

In 2012, the parents, who live in Auckland, NZ, with daughters Asha, four, and Makhi, two, completely changed the way they approached shopping and waste.

They then began reducing their food waste, which Nic says forms a huge part of the average household rubbish bin. *Pictures exclusive to Woman's Day.*
They then began reducing their food waste, which Nic says forms a huge part of the average household rubbish bin. Pictures exclusive to Woman's Day.

"We made one small change at a time, so it didn't feel like a big deal," says Nic, 40.

The family embraced the minimalist lifestyle six years ago after Mike developed dermatitis, leading the duo to question if something they were using on their skin had caused the rash.

The couple started omitting certain soaps, moisturisers, cleaning products and laundry powders.

They then began reducing their food waste, which Nic says forms a huge part of the average household rubbish bin.

"We got better at buying in bulk, freezing leftovers and creating compost and we made a worm farm!" she says.

"My washing pile never gets too big," says Nic. *Pictures exclusive to Woman's Day.*
"My washing pile never gets too big," says Nic. Pictures exclusive to Woman's Day.

Nic has also changed her clothes-shopping habits.

"We focus on quality over quantity – fewer, better items that work well together," she says.

The less-is-more concept has other benefits, too.

"My washing pile never gets too big," says Nic, who founded Mainstream Green, a website to share her waste-reduction tips with others.

"We only fill one bin a year!" *Pictures exclusive to Woman's Day.*
"We only fill one bin a year!" Pictures exclusive to Woman's Day.

So what's her advice to people wanting to ditch the waste?

"It's about having that micro-pause while you're out shopping to think, 'Do I really need this or want it?'" says Nic.

"It's easy to get overwhelmed," says minimalist Nic.

"Start by focusing on one reduction at a time and then you can make other changes."

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