Five easy ways to minimise waste and become more eco friendly!
Today I’m here to talk about waste. Nope, this is not a blog post about poop, the waste I am referring to is the avoidable and unnecessary kind.
Right now I don’t think the planet is feeling too crash hot, the air is dirty, the water is contaminated, the temperatures are rising, the ice is melting and there is plastic literally everywhere. I bet you’re feeling really positive right about now hey? Sorry about that! Good news is, we can do something about it, we can change our behaviour, and little changes by a lot of people go a long way.
Recently I have been on a mission to see what I can do to reduce my negative impact on the environment and in this post I am sharing my top five beginners tips to minimise waste and become more eco-friendly. I have implemented all of these steps in my life, a few I have been doing for years and a couple I have only recently started. Have a read and see if there is something you could implement in your life (I promise they are all super dooper easy) and if you have any tips or resources of your own on this topic, please share in a comment below!
1. Clean up your diet
World Watch scientists estimate that the current livestock industry is responsible for the production of over 51% of all human created greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which makes it the leading contributor to GHG emissions, more than the entire transport industry combined (Sustainable Table 2018). This means, what you choose to put in your mouth has a greater impact on the environment than the car you choose to drive and the energy you use in your home. Joseph Poore from Oxford University, recently led a major study published in the Science journal reviewing the impact of today’s farming industry on greenhouse gas emissions, land use and water health. Poore stated “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use”.
I have been vegan for one year now after giving up animal products overnight in September 2017 and I have to say, it was one of the best decisions of my life. Before you roll your eyes and prepare yourself for a stereotypical angry vegan rant, I understand that not everyone feels ready or wants to make the leap to a plant based vegan lifestyle, I had to come to that choice on my own in my own time. However, any reduction in your consumption of meat, dairy and eggs is a step in the right direction and has a positive impact on the environment. Consider starting ‘meat free Mondays’ and including more vegetarian and vegan meals in your week.
Alternatively, if you are like me and have already adopted a vegan diet (yaass go you!), I encourage you to take a look at your weekly grocery shop and review the number of packaged food purchases you are making. Reducing the amount of processed food in your diet will reduce single waste plastic, improve your physical and mental health and probably help with your budget. So opting to consume more whole foods is a win for the planet as well as a win for your health!
Want some more info on the environmental impact of the livestock industry? Check out the resources below:
- Food Inc Documentary, available on Netflix
- Forks over Knives Documentary, available on Netflix
- Sustainable Table Website, click here
- Love Food Hate Waste Website, click here
- Article: 5 Ways the Meat on Your Plate is Killing the Planet, click here
Want some delicious meat free meal ideas? Check out the resources below:
- The Veganuary Vegan Starter Kit, click here
- Animals Australia Meaty Meat Free Meals, click here
- Meat Free Mondays website, click here
2. Start composting
WOWZA! I cannot believe I did not start composting earlier, it is SO SO easy!
Did you know, when you dispose of fruit and vegetable scraps in the normal waste, it gets deposited in landfill without oxygen and can’t actually decompose properly? Instead it takes up valuable landfill space and produces harmful methane gasses which are 20x more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. I had no idea until only recently!
This can be completely avoided by starting your own compost bin! By composting you are allowing biological breakdown of your food scraps and other organic matter into compost which in turn provides nutrients for the soil in your garden. All you need is a compost bin, you can easily get one from your local home improvement store (Bunnings if you are Aussie) or you can make one yourself. Then you just start by adding your green matter and your brown matter, aiming for a 50/50 balance of the two to ensure there is enough nitrogen and moisture (from the green matter) and carbon and fibre (from the brown matter).
For a more detailed guide on how to set up your compost and and explanation of what constitutes green and brown matter, check out the resources below:
- FoodWise Beginners Guide to Composting, click here
- Earth Easy Guide to Composting, click here
- Sustainable Table Guide to Composting, click here
Don’t think you have enough space to compost? Think again, literally EVERYONE can compost, even in an apartment with no garden, there are so many options from indoor composting setups to local council initiatives. Check out your local councils websites or some of the links below for further options:
- Earth Easy Guide to Apartment Composting, click here
- Sustainable Table Guide to Composting, click here
3. Switch to an eReader
I am a self confessed bookworm, I LOVE reading and can go through numerous books a week #NerdLyf
This addiction can become somewhat of a problem when your home office starts to look more like a hoarder’s library. Sure I have some all time favourites sitting on my shelves, but for the most part, how often do I actually read a book more than once? In short, never.
In my quest to become an eco princess warrior, I decided to consider my options for satiating my inner book nerd while respecting the environment.
To be honest, I used to be super against using eReaders. I felt like technology was taking over my life and looking at another screen would be bad for my eyes. However, before our Europe trip I decided to do some research into them (because how else was I going to get through my European Summer reading list – I couldn’t lug 20 books around!).
(Accurate representation of me trying to fit all the books I bought into my bag on the way home from Europe – DISCLAIMER they were all second hand, London and Scotland have THE BEST second hand bookstores!)
I discovered that eReaders can actually be easier on your eyes than a normal book as there is a better contrast between the text and the background. If you opt for a kindle, you can read with no screen lighting, or you can use the front light for reading in low-light situations. The front light allows you to read for hours without straining your eyes, as opposed to a back light like those on our smart phones which is harmful to our eyes.
I took the plunge and invested in a Kindle Paperwhite and I have to admit, I do love it! It’s so easy to download books, it’s cost effective, the battery lasts for ages and it’s so light in my handbag (yes, I am one of those people that always carries a book around). Plus, I found that I actually read faster on the kindle and it automatically connects to my good reads account!
Not convinced on the eBook front? Why not try out Audible, an audio book subscription service which allows you to download books to your phone! I LOVE audible, I download a new audio book every month to listen to on my commute to work, while doing my house work or walking my dogs. This is especially great if you don’t have much time in your life to sit down and read a book!
STILL NOT CONVINCED? If you are still super keen on reading physical books why not try your local library or second hand bookstore? Choosing this option will cut back waste that results from buying a book and reading it once, save you money and you still have the satisfaction of curling up with a cup of tea and getting lost in a good story!
4. Shop second hand
Let’s face it, we live in a consumerist society, we are told what to like by big businesses, celebrities, marketing and advertisement designed to make you feel like if you just had *insert item name here* you would be happy. NEWS FLASH having more stuff does not and never will make you happy. Now I’m not preaching from my high horse, I have and still do fall for this. Marketing and advertising infiltrates our lives, we are bombarded with it, it’s pretty hard to ignore and it works. But at what cost?
A great documentary on the environmental and human impact of fast fashion is called The True Cost. It’s on Netflix so if you don’t have a login borrow a friend or family members, sit down with a cup of tea and learn about where our clothes come from. As consumers we want things fast, we want them cheaper and we treat them as disposable when the next thing comes along. This attitude is having a detrimental impact on our environment, and on the people and communities working in the factories for next to nothing to produce our consumables.
There are a few ways we can take a more sustainable approach to our purchasing habits. Firstly, if you are going to buy clothes new, research the brand and the company, preferably choosing one that has a positive environmental and social impact. Invest in well made and timeless pieces that you know you will wear time and time again and avoid fast fashion companies LIKE THE PLAGUE.
Secondly, try op-shopping! I have been a lover of op shops, markets and vintage stores for many years, I often find some of my best wardrobe pieces in op shops in practically new condition. Not a fan of digging through clothes in a funny smelling shop? You can always try markets or there are plenty of options to shop second hand online from the comfort of your own home, such as Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Depop, The Luxury Exchange or Blue Spinach.
Fun fact, almost all of the clothes I took to Europe this summer were from an op-shop or second hand, they were all in brand new condition and pretty much all well known high quality brand names (check out some snaps below).
Rome, Italy (op-shopped dress)
Amsterdam, Netherlands (op-shopped jumpsuit)
London, England (op-shopped skirt)
Oxford, UK (op-shopped pants and t-shirt)
Lastly, if you are looking for an outfit for an event, why not borrow from friends or family? Often we only wear nice dresses once or twice, by borrowing we save money and minimise our waste!
Want some more resources on reducing clothing waste? Check out the list below:
- The True Cost Movie (available on Netflix)
- The True Cost Movie Website, click here
- The High Cost of Our Cheap Fashion Ted Talk, click here
5. Invest and reuse!
Plastic is everywhere, it’s all around us and it doesn’t decompose, it’s never going away. Plastic has infiltrated our lives, our food, our clothes, our oceans. Plastic is literally killing our planet, we have entire floating islands of plastic waste! A great (and also terrifying) documentary to watch on the impact plastic is having is A Plastic Ocean which is also available on Netflix. If this documentary doesn’t make you rethink your plastic use, I don’t know what will.
Want to reduce your plastic but don’t know where to start? Start with investing in a good quality reusable water bottle, a reusable coffee cup, and reusable shopping and produce bags.
It is estimated that 1,000,000 plastic bottles are purchased every minute worldwide, half a million straws are used each day and each year we consume over 500 billion disposable cups (www.earthday.org). Only a fraction of this is actually recycled.
Last year I invested in two (one for me and one for Nath) large insulated stainless steel water bottles from the brand Earth Bottles. This company partners with Clean Coast Collective to fund beach clean ups along with many other organisations having a positive social and environmental impact. My Earth Bottle keeps my water cool, keeps me hydrated and it looks pretty! Best of all, I don’t ever buy plastic water bottles. There are so many stainless steel or glass water bottles out there which will last you forever and save you from using plastic, just find one that suits your style and get hydrating!
The reusable coffee cup I use is by Pottery for the Planet and was a Christmas gift from my mum (she knows me too well). It is a beautiful ceramic reusable coffee cup that I get so many comments on from baristas and friends. Previously I have used a KeepCup glass reusable coffee cup (I unfortunately smashed it to pieces when I dropped it at work, a very sad day) which is another great option! Choose a brand and cup you like and keep drinking that heavenly heavenly coffee!
Lastly, in terms of reusable shopping bags, invest in some cute ones so you like using them. Keep them in your car or some little fold up ones in your handbag so you are never without them when stopping in at the shops. I have also invested in some reusable produce bags which are great to avoid using those single use bags for your apples and potatoes, alternatively you can just get your fruit and veg sans bag!
Want some more resources on plastic and some reusable product suggestions? Check out the suggestions below:
- A Plastic Ocean Documentary, available on Netflix
- Plastic Oceans Website, click here
- Reusable cup options: Pottery for the Planet, KeepCup, Frank Green, Joco Cups
- OnYa Produce Bags, click here
- Recycle Now Website, click here
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post! If you are not already doing some of these things I hope it has inspired you to make small changes to benefit the environment. I am still learning about how I can be and do better and I will continue to share my journey with you, I’m not perfect, I make mistakes like everyone else, I forget to bring my reusable cup occasionally or I see a new book that I really want, but the important thing is that I’m trying and will continue to try. If you have some tips and resources on minimising waste and leading a more environmentally friendly life, please share in a comment down below!
Until next time,