WITH his movie star looks, 86.5k Instagram followers and passion for vegan living, it’s no wonder Max La Manna, 30, has been dubbed the ‘zero waste pin-up’. Born in Connecticut, the former actor (he was briefly in Days Of Our Lives) has made it his life’s work to get people to throw less away and save the planet. He’s not doing it in LA, New York or Sydney but in grimy old London, which he made his home last year because this is where ‘most of my fans are’.
La Manna admits he’s not perfect. He acknowledges the hypocrisy in flying around the world spreading a no-waste message. Indeed, some of his recipes include ingredients such as almonds and avocados — both water- guzzling crops with huge carbon footprints, and neither of which are seasonal (a key tenet of proper ethical living). But La Manna — who wears DIY deodorant and clothes made from offcuts, and has been fully immersed in the zero-waste way of life since 2017 — is trying and his new book, More Plants Less Waste, encourages all of us to do our bit too.
‘We all need to start somewhere,’ he says. ‘No matter how small or big our change is, we all need to do our part to protect the only planet we call home.’
Here, La Manna has advice on how to live a less wasteful life, in 21 days…
Create an audit of the rubbish you throw away. This gives you an idea of what you consume the most and an opportunity to look for reusable alternatives.
Assemble your ‘less waste to go’ kit
Get together the items you need when you’re out and about. Collect a reusable fork, knife, spoon, perhaps a metal straw and a reusable cloth/ bandana as a napkin.
Eat what you have in your fridge
We tend to buy more than we need. I love clearing out my cupboards and fridge and cooking what’s in there.
Shop locally for produce
Supporting local producers reduces the amount of carbon emissions it takes to bring your food to you.
Figure out your compost
Food that isn’t composted and goes in the bin then goes to landfill, where it releases methane into the atmosphere and makes it harder for us to breathe. There are lots of different ways to start composting — create your own compost heap or use a bin from the local council.
Go bulk shopping
If you can, go shopping for bulk ingredients and be sure to bring bags/jars with you for refilling.
Fast fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Shopping more at your local charity or vintage shop is a less wasteful alternative.
Nourish your body
Most soaps and shampoos come in plastic containers and are hard to recycle. Refill your soap and shampoos at a bulk shop or make your own from scratch.
Eat more plants
Devote today to eating only plants and natural whole foods, nothing processed.
Ditch plastic water bottles
To make this switch you just need to carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go. You’ll save money too.
Replace kitchen paper
Ditch the kitchen paper because you don’t need it. I reuse tea towels or old rags instead. Also replace paper tissues with a handkerchief.
Bring your cup with you
Do you fancy a takeaway coffee or tea at your favourite café? Instead of using their disposable cups, bring your own one with you.
Buy a meal in your reusable container
I challenge you to use your own container for your takeaway meal. It feels great when you make it happen.
Fermenting foods is a great way to cut back on food waste. With a busy schedule, food often goes soft and spoiled. If you know you may not get the chance to cook that cabbage or carrot, consider pickling it.
Make a zero-waste beauty product
Perhaps you fancy making a body scrub from leftover coffee grounds or a ripe avocado face mask? You’d be surprised what you can create.
Buy bread in a cloth bag
Most bread we see in the supermarket is wrapped in a plastic bag. Go straight to the baker and ask for a fresh loaf and give them your own bag.
Do your bit!
Head out to your local park or beach and spend half an hour doing a plastic clean-up session. There are some great community initiatives in the UK.
Turn your phone off
According to recent research, speaking on the phone for one hour per day for a year can create the same carbon emissions as a flight from London to NYC [1.25 tonnes vs the flight at 0.9 tonnes]. Switch off for one day a week.
Set up your recycling bin with what you know can be recycled properly — drawing a diagram of what can and can’t be recycled and sticking it on your fridge is helpful.
Save veg scraps
Those scraps you’re about to throw away are not waste. Save your scraps to make stock.
Celebrate your victories!
We all learn from one another and have a far better reach when we share our experiences. Tag me on your journey on social media using the hashtag #moreplantslesswaste.
Max La Manna’s More Plants Less Waste (Yellow Kite) is out now
■ 4 tsp bicarbonate of soda or arrowroot
■ A tbsp soft coconut oil
■ 5-10 drops essential oil
■ Small mason jar
Put the bicarbonate of soda and coconut oil into a bowl and mix, then add 5 to 10 drops of essential oils, depending on how strong you want it to smell. Place in a small mason jar. Apply by scooping out a quarter of a teaspoon with a spoon. Rub together and apply to your armpits. Store sealed in a fridge or a cool cupboard for six months.
Lavender and rosemary body scrub
■ 6 tbsp sugar
■ 3 tsp soft coconut oil
■ 1 tsp dried rosemary
■ 10 drops of lavender essential oil or another if you prefer
In a bowl, mix sugar and coconut oil until it becomes a wet and gritty paste. Add dried rosemary and essential oil, then mix. Keep your body scrub in a sealed container in a cool, dry space. Rub in circular motions over the body, especially dry areas such as elbows and knees. Rinse with warm water.
Toothpaste without the plastic tube
■ 70g coconut oil
■ 1 tbsp coarse salt
■ 1 tbsp calcium carbonate
■ 100g bicarbonate of soda
■ ½ tsp liquid stevia
■ 10 drops peppermint oil
Place the ingredients in a bowl and mash using a pestle and mortar. The result should be smooth with a paste-like look. Store in a sterilised sealed container and use a clean spoon to put the paste on your brush to avoid contaminating your container. Use within six months.