Can you cut 1 Tonne of carbon pollution out of your life?Take the challenge
Have you ever wished you could stop producing so much waste around your home, but didn't know where to start?
Fear not! Here are 10 astonishingly easy and simple ways to make a BIG difference today! Challenge yourself to start at least one of these every week, and within no time you'll be living a reduced waste, sustainable life.
10 simple ways to start living a low-waste life
1. Pack a waste-free lunch
The secret of a great packed lunch is to find something that is easy to prepare, uses healthy ingredients, and can be transported easily. Packing your own lunch won't just cut down on waste, but you'll also save some serious $$$ if you get out of the habit of buying food when out and about.
2. Opt out of junk mail
Junk mail makes up an astonishing six per cent of Australia's total paper usage, amounting to 240,000 tonnes of paper annually. The water needed to produce a year's worth of catalogues could fill 8,640 Olympic-sized swimming pools!
Learn how to reduce the amount of junk mail you receive here. You can also contact your bank, insurance provider and other companies that send you mail to see whether you can get paperless statements sent to your email.
3. Buy products without packaging wherever possible, or at least with recyclable packaging.
Don't put fruit and vegetables in plastic produce bags. Instead, buy them loose or make your own reusable produce bags. Alternatively, take a box or crate when shopping to help transport your produce easily and sustainably. Most greengrocers have boxes and crates out back if you ask!
When shopping, always look for products that come in recyclable cardboard boxes, reusable jars or containers, or better still, no packaging at all!
4. Take your own containers when getting takeaway food
Does this sound extreme? I used to think that this would be WAY too embarrassing to do, but quite honestly people don't seem to mind. If anything, it's a great conversation starter and really can inspire those around you to start thinking about their own environmental footprints.
Some places even give you a discount for bringing your own containers!
5. Stop using paper towels around your home
Ok, the challenges are starting to get a little trickier! Are you up for this one?
Did you know that every day, over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is produced in the US alone? A great alternative, therefore, is keeping a box of reusable, washable rags in your kitchen/laundry or wherever you might otherwise need paper towel. This is also a great way to repurpose old towels, dishcloths and even t-shirts!
6. Stop using cling wrap and other plastic wraps
When it comes to cling wrap it's one of the plastics that are rarely ever recycled. Plastic wrap can't go into normal household plastic recycling bins as it melts at a different temperature to the other plastics and causes problems with the machines. However, some major food retailers such as Coles now have soft plastic recycling drop-off bins so you can bring back your clean plastic wrap or shopping bags. This is a great initiative but when it comes to single-use the first line of defence should always be to refuse, especially when there are simple and cheap alternatives out there!
Check out our video for making your own reusable bees' wax wraps:
7. Say "NO" to plastic bags: Get into the habit of carrying a reusable shopping bag when you're out and about
Plastic bags are one of the most obvious displays of our throw-away society. In Australia alone, we use over 4 billion single-use plastic bags every year, that's over 10 million each day! Plus, the life of a plastic bag once it's in the hand of a shopper can be counted in minutes, andbecause only 3% of them are currently being recycled, 200,000 bags are dumped in landfill every hour, and they take between 15 and 1000 years to degrade.
8. Always take a reusable cup when getting takeaway coffee
Such an easy switch to make, such a massive impact!
Sadly, most paper cups aren't made from paper alone They are more often than not lined with polyethylene to prevent leakage. This makes them unrecyclable and puts them in the Styrofoam camp when it comes to landfill and methane emissions. Along with the cup, lids aren't generally recyclable.
It's estimated that 5 billion disposable cups end up in landfill a year, which is about 1 million cups a minute, every hour, every day. Don't contribute to this!
If you don't have a Keep Cup yet why not grab one from the 1 Million Women shop!
9. Switch from tissues to hankies
Ever wondered what to do with all of those handkerchiefs that your grandma gives you? Start using them! Not only are they washable and reusable, but they also make perfect emergency napkins as they don't fall apart like tissues, and can be washed out and dried quickly for reuse.
10. Switch from teabags to loose-leaf and an infuser
While most of a tea bag is made from biodegradable paper, around 20 to 30 per cent is not.
In order to stop tea bags bursting open in transit or in the cup, many are sealed with a strip of heat-resistant polypropylene plastic. That plastic doesn't compost, even after a few years, and gardeners often find these small plastic meshes amid their homemade compost (along with those non-biodegradable stickers that are found on fresh fruit such as apples).
Solution? Get some lovely loose-leaf tea and pick up an infuser for an easy alternative!
What is your number one tip for reducing waste? Let us know in the comments below!
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