The Climate Change debate is a highly contentious one involving many theories, stances, arguments, and over-all complexities. However, no matter where we stand on our thoughts on this issue, the importance of getting back to grass-roots and examining the amount of waste we create in a more individual sense is imperative - in order to help our planet survive the negative effects of our Industrial age.
We often think we cannot make much of a difference as a single entity, but slowly and surely with the awareness of wastage and the effects of chemical usage growing the collective intention to care for our environment becomes more wide-spread, enabling significant impact to occur. It is also not all that hard! And the benefits of a little extra effort go beyond environmental – by using less contaminants and pollutants humans can become healthier and happier!
So here are some EASY ways to help reduce the waste you produce in your home, and also create a healthier environment in which to live.
1. Rethink the Cling!
Cling wrap is a household staple so can you imagine how this contributes to plastic waste per house? In two words… a lot. You may think it would be impossible to do without, but with the advent of reusable silicone bags and beeswax as well as vegan wraps, keeping food fresh and protected is easy on both you and the environment.
2. Start Composting
If you aren’t already composting, much of the weight in your bin is likely coming from food scraps that will end up in landfill. When this happens, food putrefies anaerobically – this means that the lack of oxygen will cause the breakdown to produce methane gas. This doesn’t happen when scraps are thrown into the garden, where it is exposed to oxygen and organic matter and releases Carbon Dioxide instead, a less harmful atmospheric gas.
Composting is easy and rewarding for your garden where it will provide nutrients to any of your growing plants and soil.
3. Cook from Scratch
Meal planning and cooking from scratch helps to eliminate or at least reduce food wastage, as prepping ahead ensures you are buying the quantity needed and avoids packaged foods that contribute to a large amount of plastic waste.
4. Make your own Yoghurt
Making your own yoghurt can be a simple yet effective strategy to lower the use of plastic containers. In fact a council in New Zealand has tightened their restrictions on plastic recycling collection by advising their residents they will no longer be accepting ice cream containers or yoghurt pots! If councils around the world continue on in this vein, it won’t be long until we start feeling the effects in our own back yard.
5. Use a Natural Toothbrush
How simple! Use a natural toothbrush made of wood or bamboo, a natural biodegradable material that will not add to the overload of plastic waste each year.
6. Say No to Plastic Bottles
It is hard to believe just how ubiquitous plastic remains despite knowing what we do about it. Plastic is forever, its non-biodegradable and vast amounts end up in our oceans polluting our water, killing bird and sea-life, and washing back onto our shores.
It is really important to start saying no to plastic bottles. Yes they are convenient but buying a durable water bottle allows you to reduce this waste, as well as reducing your own intake of toxins that can leech through plastic into your drinking water.
7. Use a Keep Cup for your Coffee
Some paper coffee cups may be recyclable but let’s face it, with the booming coffee culture in Australia we are racking up a massive amount of disposable cups that end up in our bins, and consequently our landfill.
Buy a cute Keep Cup and reap the benefits of discounted coffee many café’s offer as incentive to lower their own use of coffee cups. If your local doesn’t offer this… maybe its time to suggest it! How can they say no to such a logical eco-friendly solution to waste reduction?
8. Shop Local!
Not only does frequenting your local farmers market or green grocer’s offer you better produce, they tend to use far less plastic-ware. When was the last time you saw pumpkin pre-cut on a Styrofoam tray covered in plastic wrap at a market? Once again… this is convenient no doubt, but how long will it really take to chop up some pumpkin? And its not just eco-friendly, but economical too!
9. Use Natural Cleaners
Not only do natural cleaners lessen the toxic load placed on the environment compared to their harsh and corrosive counterparts, but the use of cleaning agents and the like derived from nature will be better for your lungs and gentle on your house and clothes. When used in the right ways and combinations, ingredients such as vinegar, bicarb soda and essential oils can be incredibly powerful and very effective at cleaning and neutralizing odours and bacteria.
10. Re-Use Glass and Plastic Jars
Clean out a used jam jar and you have a new vessel entirely. You could try making your own jam to refill them? If that’s not your thing, they can also be used to store foods in the pantry or fridge, as glasses to drink out of, pen holders, hair tie/clip holders… the options are endless.
These small actions can go a long way in reducing your individual waste as well as increasing your health and well-being in a few ways; lowering exposure to toxic waste material and agents, getting you outside more and giving that sense of fulfilment that making your carbon footprint as light as possible gives.