Want a good reason to join the war on waste? Consider this fact: In 2018, the biggest threat to the longevity of mankind is mankind itself!
As a global population, we throw away enough to fill the world’s largest container ship every two hours. It’s scary to think of how much goes into landfill and to wonder exactly where all the rubbish is going.
The good news is that many Australians have already joined the war on waste, by reducing, reusing and recycling around the house. According to the 2016 Australian National Waste Report, the annual quantity of waste is in slight decline. And while we are producing 64 million tonnes of waste per year, we are getting better at recycling.
If you have any interest in the earth being around for future generations to enjoy, you’ll already be thinking about how you can win the war on waste on a daily basis. Here are some war tactics to help you make a difference:
Take the coffee cup challenge
Australians are now throwing away a staggering 1 billion coffee cups every year. Many people assume they are biodegradable but the plastic lining of these cups does not break down.
You don’t have to do without your morning coffee! Instead, join the war on waste by ditching takeaway coffee cups. Buy one or two reusable cups and keep them on your desk at work or in your bag. Set a goal to use your own cup 9 times out of ten.
Many cafes now offer a discount for people who bring their own cup - keep an eye out for these places and give them your business, because they're your comrades in the war on waste.
Forgotten your cup? Take a moment to sit down and enjoy your coffee at a table in the cafe instead.
Bring your own bottle
Coffee cups are second in line as the worst environmental pollutants. The biggest offender in the war on waste is plastic bottles.
Again, reducing waste is a matter of changing habits. Before you leave the house, fill a bottle with water and take it with you. There are plenty of attractively designed, reusable bottles on the market that are BPA free and can keep your drink cold.
The bonus of this habit is that you will save money by not buying drinks everywhere you go. You will also save calories by avoiding soft drink and fruit juice. There are lots of win-win situations in the war on waste.
Skip the straw
Drinking straws are another offender when it comes to single use plastics. They are slow to break down and make their way into our waterways, having a devastating effect on marine life.
To reduce your use, and win the war on waste you have three options:
- Go without (your drink will taste the same!)
- Bring your own reusable metal or bamboo straw (these can be purchased from a number of different websites and come with a special brush for cleaning. Store them in the freezer to prevent bacteria building up)
- Choose venues which offer biodegradable straws.
Use your food
If wasted food was a country, it would be the third largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world, after the United States and China.
Talk about food for thought!
You may be surprised to realise that even organic waste is not good for the environment. To reduce your food waste, jump on the internet. There are entire sites dedicated to helping you win the war on waste by making the most of every ingredient in your pantry.
Again, reducing waste in this area takes conscious effort. However, with a bit of planning you will quickly be able to change your habits.
Create a compost
At the end of the day, no matter what you do, you will have food scraps. If you live in a house, grab a compost bin from your local hardware store and keep it in the back of your garden. To reduce the smell, always cover your compost with a layer of soil or dry leaves. For compost that is ready for use more quickly, cut up your scraps before adding them.
Nowadays, living in an apartment block is no excuse not to reduce waste by composting! Many blocks have communal compost schemes encouraging residents to limit their green waste. Once the bins are full, the contents are either used around the complex or donated to local community gardens. Talk to your strata about how you and the other residents can band together to win the war on waste, and reduce food going in the trash.
Check out some chickens
If your local council permits it and you have the space, consider adding some new members to your war on waste platoon in the form of poultry.
Having a couple of ‘cluckers’ in the garden will reduce your food waste considerably and you will also have the benefit of delicious fresh eggs (and less waste from egg cartons).
Well-fed chickens are the best layers, however the most recommended backyard chickens include Isa Browns, Rhode Island Reds, Australorps and Leghorns. Talk to an expert about the breed which will best suit your space and how you can help them have a happy existence.
Cut the cling film
Many schools now say no to cling film, asking instead that children bring their lunch in reusable containers. This makes sense as all that plastic often ends up floating around the playground.
Reusable containers are not only for kid food! If you’re in the habit of wrapping your sandwiches in plastic, now’s the time to quit. Grab a container instead and wash it out at the end of every day.
At home, win the war on waste by switching to beeswax wraps instead of plastic to cover your food. This style of wrap is healthy, eco-friendly and sustainable. It can be used for a year and even longer, meaning fewer trips to the shops to stock up on cling film.
Pack your picnic basket
Forget plastic picnicware if you want to join the war on waste! Knives, forks, plates and cups that get thrown out end up in landfill and clog up the ocean.
Instead of buying single use plastic, stock your picnic basket with long-lasting melamine cups, plates and cutlery. Choose fun and funky designs that create a talking point for you and your friends.
Melamine picnicware is so lightweight, you won’t notice the difference when you are carrying it. It is also easy to wipe clean and can withstand the heat of the dishwasher.
Go for quality over quantity
This applies to every area of your life. Nowadays many products are not designed to last, however if you shop around and commit to spending a little extra you will benefit from a longer lasting product. Another win-win in the war on waste.
Some areas to seek out the finer things in life include:
- Children’s toys: Skip the cheap plastic and invest in quality wooden or biodegradable playthings for your kids. Help them to understand why it is important not to collect mountains of plastic novelties
- Kitchenware and appliances: Better brands are built to last. Shop around, do your research and be prepared to invest in quality
- Clothing: Forget the trendy stuff that falls apart after one wash! Choose classic pieces in timeless styles and keep them in your wardrobe for longer
Do you always have to buy new? Perhaps something you are after can come to you from somebody else. This gives the item new life and keeps it out of landfill.
Many people sell ‘New with tags’ clothes and shoes on eBay and Gumtree, getting rid of things they have never even worn. Kids and baby clothes and toys are easy to find second-hand as they are often only used for a short period of time.
Household furniture and gardening tools often still have a great deal of life in them when they are listed for sale online.
Make it your mission in the war on waste to buy as much as you can second hand. You’ll also benefit by saving money.
Put an end to paper
Bills bills bills! How much of your mail ends up going straight in the bin?
Contact your banks and utilities providers and let them know you've joined the war on waste by requesting your bills and notifications via email. This will help you cut down on the amount of paper that gets produced and then thrown away.
Get creative with the paper you do receive in the mail and repurpose it by cutting it in half and keeping it for making notes and shopping lists.
Find a fixer
‘Broken’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘rubbish’! We seem to have forgotten the art of mending and repairing as our lives get busier. It can feel easier to buy something new than to fix what we already have.
You don't need carry a sword to join the war on waste. Often five minutes with nothing but a needle and thread will give items a new lease of life. You can also take appliances to ‘repair cafes’ which are springing up around the place. The idea behind this is that people bring along damaged bicycles, blenders and benches in need of some TLC and share their fix-it expertise with each other.
Can your glass jars become candle holders? Perhaps that chest of drawers can be sanded back, painted and given pride of place in the bedroom once more.
Upcycling is a major global trend where people take items and repurpose them, or they freshen them up with a modern look. It's also a key tactic in the war on waste. You only have to drive through you neighbourhood on general clean up weekend to realise the massive amount we simply throw away, because it's become a little grubby or unfashionable.
Some fun upcycling ideas include:
- Making old clothes and cushions into a pet bed
- A worn out ladder can become a towel rail
- Collect fabric strips and make a floor mat
- Turning old tins into travel candles
Upcycling is a fun way to introduce children to craft and the idea of creatively reducing the amount of waste in your home.
Ban the bag
Say no to plastic bags! These are one of the major contributors to the floating islands of waste clogging up our oceans. Around the world, approximately 500 billion bags are used each year. Enough is enough!
Many countries have take a major step in the war on waste by banning plastic bags completely and Australia is taking steps to do the same, with major supermarkets Coles and Woolworths pledging to stop giving out free plastic bags to shoppers in 2018.
It is easier than you think to give up your plastic bag habit:
Step one: when you’re at the grocery store, don’t bother putting your fruit and vegetables into plastic bags. They’re simply not necessary. If you’re buying small items like mushrooms or green beans, either use paper or bring your own bag from home.
Step two: Take your own bags when you go grocery shopping. Keep a stash in the boot of your car so you always have them to hand.
Step three: Carry a reusable bag everywhere you go. If you are planning a visit to the shops, just say no when offered a plastic bag. After all, how many bags do you need? The one on your shoulder is perfectly sufficient to carry that new top or pair of jeans.
La La Land is joining the war on waste too.
La La Land now has a stunning collection of handy reusable bags. Stock up on a couple and keep one in your car, one under your desk and one by the front door.
These fun and funky designs are so irresistible, you’ll be able to switch your shopping habits and reduce plastic bag waste without even thinking about it!