5 ways to start your environmental sustainability journey today
Author: Sam Carey
Are you finding that you're becoming more and more aware of environmental issues, want to do your part but feeling overwhelmed about where to start?
Do not fear my friend, we have a quick and easy starter guide for you filled with simple, positive environmental actions to begin your journey towards sustainability today.
1. Reusable coffee cup
Firsts things first, literally, you wake up in the morning and all you can think about is the double-shot-of-liquid-gold latte you get from that hipster cafe on your way to work. It’s a good brew and let’s face it, we’re all addicted so we’re not going to give it up. However, if you switched the single-use takeaway cup you drink it in each time for a stylish reusable coffee cup (you may even get 50c off your next coffee with) then you’ve instantly just saved 260-700 coffee cups ending in landfill (depending on your level of addiction obviously). Talk about reducing your environmental footprint!
2. Reusable water bottle
Another daily necessity is water. Did you know that Australians are spending around half a billion dollars each year on bottled water? But tap water is...free? What if we told you you could save money, help the environment AND have a fancy new accessory that goes with your personal style? There is an ever increasing amount of great reusable water bottle brands now on the market. These companies are leading the way in terms of reducing plastic water bottles that are entering our oceans, sealife bellies or landfill by producing extremely attractive reusable options.
3. Reusable Shopping bags
Now we know that forming a habit, e.g. bringing, as opposed to forgetting, reusable shopping bags from home to the shops, may take a few weeks to crack. But trust us, once you do you will never forget to bring your own environmentally friendly bags. That means being able to completely avoid single-use plastic bags that can take around 500 years to breakdown. You can get reusable bags from most of the major supermarkets or something more trendy at many eco online shops including this one to the left from Biome. (Tip: Don’t just limit the use of these bags to the supermarket, they can also replace bags from any other retailer shops you buy from).
4. Bin System
Managing your household ‘waste’ properly plays an important role in your positive environmental impact. You may only have the one bin at the moment where everything gets thrown into, but we challenge you to set up 4 bins. Yes, you read that right, 4.
1. Compost (fruit, veg, food scraps) - these can be mixed with dry leaves and spread on your garden as a nutrient dense food for your plants - yummy.
2. Mixed recyclables (bottles, cans, hard plastic containers): Tip: Aluminum foil can only be recycled if it is rolled up into larger balls otherwise it can get lost in the process at the recycling plant. At the Planet Ark office we have an old shoe box to collect Alfoil before we place it into the mixed recyclables. Simple but genius, I know.
3. Soft plastics - collect all soft, scrunchable plastics in a separate bag and once full, take it to your local Coles where they have RedCycle recycling bins. You can read more about the great things soft plastics can be made into at Replas, RedCycle's partner.
4. Landfill - aim to have your landfill bin as the least full of all 4 bins.
As the king of storage, Ikea have great bin systems available but you can also be thrifty and reuse any old buckets or boxes you may have at home.
5. Plant a tree
One of the best things you can do for nature is help give it new life. There is a Chinese proverb that says ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now’. Planting a tree not only makes you feel good mentally, but it is one of the most positive environmental actions you can take to ensure a healthy world in the future. Make sure to take part in our National Tree Day event every July.
Do you consider yourself an intermediate-advanced environmentalist that has some other great simple tips to help beginners get started? We would love to hear them! Send us a message on facebook or tag us on Instagram.
Sam is Planet Ark's Recycled Paper Programs Manager.
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