Australians generate about 67 million tonnes of waste a year – a figure that continues to rise. While the government works on developing and adhering to the National Waste Policy, there is a lot we can do in our individual homes to help cut the waste.
You already know the effect of plastic on the environment, marine life and people’s health.
Look for ways to cut down on it drastically if not eliminate entirely. For example, you can buy food in bulk and bring your own containers to eliminate the need for plastic packaging. Buy shavers with replaceable heads rather than single use ones. Treat yourself to a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one. It seems minor but with average Australians discarding only two 20-gram toothbrushes every year, that amounts to 900 tonnes of toothbrushes every year. Bamboo, on the other hand, is a natural material that can be composted.
Don’t use plastic bags, get a couple of washable and reusable cotton bags to do your shopping.
Don’t buy more than you need
Don’t buy more stuff than you need. Admit it: you already have too many clothes, gadgets and various accessories. Making another purchase will give you a pleasant dopamine kick making you momentarily happy but you know all too well that sooner rather than later the item will get forgotten and will end up in the dump. Swap or donate things you don’t need, buy second hand, reuse and recycle. Learn to repair stuff.
Make your own
Learn to make your own hygiene or cleaning products. It’s very easy to do using some household ingredients. Cleaning products especially don’t require much more than baking soda and vinegar. You’ll cut down on the amount of plastic bottles you use as well as the amount of harmful chemicals that enter your air and your lungs.
Avoid food waste
Australians throw away approximately 3.1 million tonnes of food per year. 2.5 million tonnes of that comes from our homes. On average we waste about 30% of the food we buy.
Teach yourself to not buy more than you need. Look through the contents of your fridge and pantry regularly and every time before you go shopping. Freeze leftovers immediately for later.
One thing we waste particularly large amounts of is water. Set up a greywater system to reuse shower and kitchen water for flushing the toilet. Doing that will reduce the amount of wastewater leaving your house by 30 to 70 per cent. You can also set up a rainwater collection system (following appropriate guidelines). At the very least, you can use bathwater to flush the toilet.