Transforming your home into an eco-friendly place is one thing, but have you ever thought about what you could also be doing in public and at work to help the environment too? Excessive food waste and overuse of plastic need to be addressed, and getting into healthier habits is easier than you might think. Making little changes can get the kids involved and helps to encourage a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Here are my top ten easy tips for eco-friendliness and sustainability wherever you are.
1. Shop smarter
Do you go to the supermarket and end up buying a heap of items that weren't actually on your shopping list? Buying unnecessary items can result in a lot of extra packaging waste, not to mention a financial waste. Before you leave the house, make sure you put together a shopping list of only the things you really need to buy. A great strategy is to buy your produce from your local grocer or market instead of the supermarket, so you'll be less tempted by packaged foods and will be supporting local business at the same time.
2. Bring your own bag
I always take my own bag to go shopping so I don't wind up with unwanted plastic bags. My pick is the Loqi Reusable Shopping Bags, available in a range of fun colours and patterns to suit your personal style. I keep these in the car so I never forget them. On top of that, I also never go shopping without the Onya Life Reusable Produce Bags so I never have to use those plastic fruit and veggie bags. These mesh drawstring bags come in a handy little case with a carabiner clip so you can keep them attached them to your shopping bags and never forget them!
3. The expiry date isn't the end of the world
According to data obtained by the NSW Government, the average Australian household throws out 345 kgs of food each and every year. That's equivalent to three fridges full of food!1 With such an excessive amount of food going to waste every day, it's a great idea to figure out ways to salvage food wherever possible. Before chucking food in the bin, check the use by or best before date. Most of the time you'll be able to decide for yourself whether it's still good or not. If it's rotten or spoiled then it can't be saved, but if it's just on its way out then try to find a suitable recipe to use it up or freeze it if possible to use another time.
4. Fix, re-home or recycle
With so many devices now in every household, electronic waste now makes up a huge part of landfill. Instead of throwing old phones and computers in the bin, see if you can have them repaired and give them to another family member or someone in need. If they can't be repaired, lots of local councils have free electronic recycling programs, with designated drop-off locations and recycling bins in various stores. This way, the plastic, metals and glass parts of electronics can be properly recycled instead of sitting in landfill and leaching poisonous gases into the air and soil. For toys and clothing, try learning some sewing or mending skills to fix rips and tears and donate to a charity instead of chucking them out.
5. Ban the bottle
Drinking from plastic is not ideal for our health or the environment. Plastic water bottles are one of those items that always end up in the bin and go straight to landfill, and takeaway coffee cups might look like paper, but they actually have a plastic film inside so they cannot be recycled. If you take a quick walk down a city street you'll likely find rubbish bins piled to the brim with cups and bottles, all of which will take hundreds if not thousands of years to decompose. Stop using plastic water bottles and invest in a good quality, reusable bottle like the Swell Stainless Steel Water Bottles, available in lots of fun colours and designs. With two sizes to choose from, these are also great for the kids' schoolbags! If you're grabbing a coffee on the go, always take a reusable glass KeepCup with you, and encourage your colleagues, friends or family members to do the same!
6. Pick up in public
It's easy to just think about the habits you can change around the home, but thinking about your surroundings can benefit the environment too. Try to pick up a few pieces of rubbish whenever you visit the beach, a park or just see some on the street. Sometimes we can be a bit oblivious to the rubbish lying around us in public, so do the right thing and put less diligent people's waste in the rubbish or recycling for them. If you're having a family picnic or BBQ in a local park or reserve, dispose of your rubbish responsibly or take it home with you if there are no facilities available.
7. Set up an easy recycling system
To make things easy for your family, set up a clearly labelled and easily accessible recycling system in the kitchen. Depending on your local council's recycling program, you could have one bin for plastic containers and glass and another for paper and cardboard. If you're not sure what the recycling options are in your neighbourhood, talk to your council to find out, and if you think it could be improved, let them know!
8. Compost if you can
If you have a backyard, setting up a compost system is a great way to get the kids involved in eco-friendly habits. See your food scraps become fertile soil to throw on the garden, and maybe even start a worm farm. If you have a balcony or communal courtyard, check the rules with your landlord or body corporate, and see about setting up a compost area that everyone can make use of. You can even make your own mini veggie garden by repurposing the paper cartons and cylinders of product packaging. Grow your own sprouts and herbs, and the kids will love it. The cardboard cylinders from 100% Pure skin care products like the Coffee Bean Eye Cream and Luminous Facial Primer are perfect for this project!
9. Change your food storage
Change the way you think of food storage. There are so many new, innovative and environmentally friendly ways of keeping your food fresh without using plastic! Keep your fruit and vegetables fresher for longer with reusable Swag Bags, made from natural, hypoallergenic cotton, and pack the kids' lunches in reusable silicone Stasher Containers. You could also consider buying in bulk to limit excess packaging and pick up some second hand glass jars to keep everything fresh.
10. Care for yourself and the environment
There are so many sustainable personal care items available now that you'll never need to use anything toxic to your body or the environment ever again. For feminine hygiene, JuJu Menstrual Cups are the most environmentally sustainable option, but organic cotton Pads and Tampons are also a much better alternative to non-organic products which are not always completely biodegradable. You can also replace the whole family's toothbrushes with the Life Basics Bamboo & Charcoal Toothbrush, available in three sizes and made from completely biodegradable materials, unlike plastic brushes which pile up in landfill.
Source:1ABC War on Waste.