So you care about the environment? You think there’s a lot of things we could do better? But you often think to yourself “how could I make a difference?”
I’ve been there. It’s all too much. “Someone will tell me to change when we really need to.”
Well here I am! Telling you we really need to!
Less than a year ago I started making changes to my waste habits, and it’s so simple! I’m already here sharing how to do it. I guarantee, you could make at least one of these changes today, and probably all of them this week.
Anyone who has ever been on a diet will know, what you do on day 1 of your diet, is not nearly as important as what you do every other day of your life. Skipping dessert today is not going to improve your health anywhere near as much as cutting sugar from your daily coffee. Just as eating a slice of cake on your birthday isn’t going to affect you like a daily treat of banana bread.
Just like when you shift your mindset from eating whatever comes at you, to eating what is good for you; you can shift your mindset from using what is put in front of you, to using only what is needed.
Using what makes sense, using what is good for our resource use and waste streams. This is our waste issue to address.
Here’s what I do, everyday, to reduce waste in my life. Just like healthy eating, it’s not something I have to think about, it’s become my ‘normal’.
So, here’s 7.5 simple ways you can be a ‘mainstream’ environmentalist and reduce waste.
1. Reusable water bottle and coffee mug
It takes 3L of water and 1L of oil to make a 1L bottle of water; and if it’s not recycled, that bottle will outlive you!
For me it’s a habit to fill up my handbag bottle before I go shopping, put my gym bottle back in my gym bag after a workout, and ask for ‘table’ water when I order out. This saves me trying to find a recycling bin at Westfield and saves me cash too!
Plus, using a water bottle you like can help you drink more water throughout the day. Win-win!
Disposable coffee cups cannot be recycled through standard recycling, because they are a combination of paper and plastic; so try having a reusable mug at your desk or getting a sit down coffee when you’re out.
2. Reusable cutlery
This is another item you will use almost every day. Plastic cutlery is too small and oddly shaped to be recycled, so your single use fork will just have to outlive you in landfill. Buying a cutlery set for your work area or bag is something you can do once, and reap the benefits again and again.
3. Avoiding food packaging when eating out
Think of it this way, your food packaging is ‘single use’. Do you want that straw or plate to exist for 1,200 years because of this one meal? Try to order sit down meals, and opt for recyclable items when your order takeaway, so your packaging can have a second life.
[ Make single use items an exception, instead of the norm ]
4. Bamboo toilet paper
Currently, 9 million trees perish annually, just for toilet paper. There’s a few different bamboo brands out there but the idea is, bamboo grows a lot faster than forests, so it’s more sustainable. The packaging of this paper is also recyclable through standard recycling and protects the rolls while they’re in the bathroom, to avoid needing to throw any rolls away. Pure Planet also support our waterways. Convenient postage means you never need to juggle a 24 pack of Cottonelle from the car again. Win-win!
5. Bamboo toothbrushes
We use over 300 toothbrushes in our lifetime, and just like plastic cutlery, toothbrushes are too small to be recycled in conventional recycling. Bamboo is degradable and sustainable. Toothcrush work out at less than $3.50 per brush and the bi-monthly postage feels like Christmas, while reminding you it’s time to change your brush! Win-win!
[ Bamboo is degradable and grows faster than forests ]
6. Reusable shopping and produce bags
Reusable bags do take more energy and resources to make, but reusing them makes it worth it. My key tip here is keep it as convenient for yourself as you can. If that means a keychain fold out bag or stashing them in your glove box, keep it easy. For me, I have 2 compact black bags in my handbag and work bag, and a compact 8 pack ready next to my shopping list. Don’t forget you can wash these when needed and use them for clothes shopping and even at K-mart!
Reusable produce bags can help you eliminate plastic from your shop altogether.
[ My key tip here is keep it as convenient for yourself as you can ]
7. Reduce food waste
Not only do we use more than a third of our planets land and water to produce food, but every kilogram of food waste in landfill produces 1.9kg of CO2 emissions! This is because a lack of oxygen affects the breakdown process. Planning what you buy and being creative with leftover ingredients is a great way to reduce your impact. I also collect my offcuts for my colleagues chickens. Win-win!
7.5 Ruby cups (ladies only!)
So this one only applies to half of us humans, but the average female uses over 9,000 tampons in her lifetime, and they all end up in landfill or waterways.
I personally love that I don’t spend money on tampons, I don’t have to remember to pack enough of them each day, I don’t think about where to put them when it’s time to change at a friends place, I don’t have to hide my bin from my boyfriend, I don’t have to rush between meetings to replace my tampon, I don’t have to worry about my fresh white sheets when I’m sleeping and I don’t have to worry about water or moisture impacting my tampon or string (you know what I’m saying here ladies!).
To me, silicon feels a lot cleaner than the alternatives. Converting to a Ruby Cup has been a great change for me. Initially it was a little tricky working out how to get it in, and my housemate sent me a hilarious text on her first day, because she hadn’t read the instructions on how to overcome the suction to get hers out! But after a few uses, we’re both experts. If you’re not up for it just yet, check out these other period alternatives, or even consider chatting to your doctor about avoiding your period, win-win!
Whether you’re changing your habits to reduce your landfill legacy, to make life easier or to feel like less of a sh*t person, it makes sense! So why wait? Start one of these changes today.
Follow my blog for more thoughts on being a ‘mainstream environmentalist’.