Did you know that Australians produce 540 kg of household waste per person per year? That’s over 2000 kg for a single household (of four) in a single year. Collectively, Australians produced 67 million tonnes of waste during the year of 2017 - of that, just over half was recycled. While this means more Australians are catching on with methods to recycle, reuse and repurpose as much as they can, that number should still be higher.
Here are some tips on how you can reduce your own household waste.
Swap plastic for glass
One of the best things you can do around the house is to cut down on single-use plastics. Some countries around the world have banned, or plan to ban, single-use plastics from places like grocery stores and cafes. Given that the majority of the world is moving away from single-use plastics, it makes sense that you should too! Instead of having plastic containers for food, switch to glass containers. These are reusable and don’t contain any harmful chemicals that may, over time, leech into your food and can also do serious damage to your drain pipes.
Recycle your plastics - carefully
Another great habit to get into is recycling most of your household plastics. This means almost any type of plastic bottle can be recycled, even some of your plastic containers - those ones that you’re throwing out because you’re switching to all-glass. However, there are several misconceptions around recycling things like plastic bags and plastic cutlery, even plastic coffee cups are a no-no due to the material that’s used to line them. In general, these items are often tossed into the recycling bin, but can’t in-fact be recycled.
Reusable, washable straws
Though their contribution to plastic waste in our oceans is relatively small, plastic straws do great damage to the animals who live in the ocean - they usually end up in the animal’s nostril or esophagus, causing respiratory distress and sometimes death. Often these are carelessly discarded after finishing a drink and/or fall out of recycling bags and are blown by the wind into the ocean, or wind up in a landfill.
At home, you can help reduce the number of plastic straws in the ocean by switching entirely to paper or stainless steel reusable straws. They even make collapsible straws, which are easy to take with you wherever you go. Simply wash, dry and reuse!
Start a compost pile
Next, we need to talk about your food waste and how you can reduce this by composting. If you have any sort of back garden with an unused area - consider either digging yourself a pit to start a compost pile or have some sort of outdoor bin that you use for compostable food. This food, according to Outside Living Today, when broken down, will turn into some fantastic fertiliser for your garden. Nature, rather beautifully, gives back to itself. You can help complete the cycle and help your garden in the process by making compost instead of just throwing out your food waste.
Rethink plastic utensils
Time was when plastic utensils were all you could buy, and everyone had a set of plastic serving spoons and spatulas and the like. Nowadays, there are so many other options for your utensils - bamboo is becoming a very popular alternative, as it is lightweight and comes from a renewable source. Alternatively, metal utensils are still very much available. Take a look at your utensil pot and figure out what you want to swap out for something a bit more environmentally-friendly. Then, figure out if you can recycle parts of or all of your plastic utensil set.
Repurpose your clothing
Rather than throwing out old, worn out clothing, consider repurposing it as a cleaning rag. Or, if you simply have clothes that you’ve outgrown, consider donating them to the local thrift store or Salvation Army charity. Rather than contributing to the huge waste of the fashion industry, breathe new life into your clothes by giving them a new home.
Whether you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint by a little or a lot, you’re looking to make just a couple of changes, or you are rethinking your entire strategy when it comes to the environment, there are many options to live more sustainably. Even small changes can go a long way - as they say - it takes a village. And while it might take a village, people are spurred on by the actions of others.
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