Plastic Free July is just around the corner, urging millions of people to ‘be part of the solution to plastic pollution’. The global movement was initiated in 2011 from humble beginnings, urging our communities to clean up our act so we can inhabit cleaner streets, bush land and a more sustainable way of life – will you be taking part?
To get our local community involved, I thought what better way than to create a sustainable living guide to help us start by taking steps at home, when out shopping and just day-to-day in order to reduce our carbon footprints. Let’s make our planet Earth smile, this July!
Choose Australian or WA-made products first
We not only want to live sustainably to help the environment, it’s also important to build a robust economy to support our everyday living. Buying goods from local traders where possible helps keep money in the Goldfields and allows a strengthened economy, all while reducing carbon emissions from minimised production and transportation factors.
Bulk food shopping
Finding a loose and/or bulk store for dried and shelf items such as flour, pastas, nuts and cereals can help reduce plastic packets. Most places have paper bags you can fill up, or it’s BYO container. This option can be helpful as most people only do monthly shops for bulk items, and it often works out to be cheaper in the long run! PFD Foods is a great local option for buying in bulk at good prices.
When supermarket shopping, try to opt for fabric, cardboard and paper alternatives over plastic bags. I like to keep my reusable shopping bags in my car boot so I won’t forget them!
Reduce plastic packaging
This is probably the most difficult challenge, as most food or general items we buy these days are packaged in plastic. Zip lock bags, plastic wrap, single-use cutlery and coffee cups have all found their way into our daily routine.
Ways to combat the plastic monster is finding eco-friendly alternatives like reusable mugs, bread and produce bags.
Don’t be afraid to say no to single-use cups, napkins, and cutlery.
Pre-packing your work lunch in containers will help too, and save you money in the long run!
Disposing scrap foods
Of course, the simplest answer to minimising food wastage is to grow your own. But it’s not always that simple, and often we find ourselves unknowing of what to do with our scraps.
- A compost bin will decompose organic matter and create a rich soil which can be used to top up the garden.
- A worm farm is a little different, they feed off the bacteria in the decaying matter and produce castings which are amazing for fertilising plants and enhancing the soil quality. (Please note: Worms are sensitive to egg shells, citrus and onions.)
- Having chooks is another viable option, as they eat EVERYTHING in sight!
Being energy efficient
Around 91% of Australia’s electricity is produced using fossil fuels. Switching off idle lights, power points and appliances not in use can reduce your electricity consumption (as well as your power bill).
Switching to LED bulbs can use up to 75% less energy than halogen light bulbs, and last 5-10 times longer!
Being water wise
Living in Australia, especially the Goldfields, we know water preservation is vital. As the saying goes, ‘Water, it’s more precious than gold.’ Around 22% of household water is used in the shower. Four minutes is considered an ideal time for showering. You can even opt for a water efficient shower head, which saves up to 7,000 litres of water each year.
Making a conscious effort to collect grey water (after a shower or washing dishes) can be used to water gardens or clean outdoor areas.
(Be sure to only use grey water on gardens if it hasn’t been exposed to nasty chemicals!)
Have you ever taken a minute to compile the products in your bathroom, whether it be face wash, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, anything. Now, how many of those items do you have re-purchased without needing? How many containers are half empty, with another container under the sink ready for replacement?
By being conscious of the products in our home, we realise the unnecessary hoard of plastics that truly aren’t needed. Using refillable bottles or containers for liquid products is the perfect solution, and stops us bulking up on products we don’t need.
Consider a lower-waste alternative to menstrual products if you have the accessibility. Sanitary pads, liners and tampons create over 200,000 tonnes of waste every year!
Zero waste products such as menstrual cups, sea sponge tampons, washable pads and period panties are some of the best ways to reduce the use of plastic, and your bank account will thank you!
Reduce, reuse, RECYCLE – properly!
Find a new home for items you no longer need – don’t just toss them at the tip! If it works, donate it. If it doesn’t, there’s many locals (particularly collectors or tinkerers) who love to restore or fix older/worn out goods.
From what I’ve noticed, a lot of us try to recycle, but a lot of us don’t know how to. Or at least, we think we do, only to have half our recycling bin returned to the general landfill.
There are regulations put in place to ensure all recycling is done appropriately. Find out more in the info graphic below.
- Place items loosely in your recycling bin
- Rinse food containers before recycling
- Do not tie recyclables in plastic bags or place plastic bags in your recycling bin
- Remove lids from bottles, jars and containers. The lids can also be put in the recycling bin.
Ethical clothing consumption
Saying no to fast fashion brands can be hard for many of us – but that $5 shirt was definitely the product of labour exploitation. Not to mention, over consumption of clothing is ruining the planet by putting a strain on our natural resources.
To combat the problem, shop for second hand clothing. This helps put money back into charities like Vinnies, while reusing and recycling clothes that would otherwise go to the dump.
The positives of this movement is that no matter where you are on your journey to sustainable living, there’s always more we can be doing to revive the planet. No matter how small that step may be, even if it’s just picking up loose rubbish as you pass by it, or cutting your shower down by 2 minutes, be proud that you are making a difference to improving quality of life here on our precious little planet.
Happy Plastic Free July!
We Love KB