The war on waste has well and truly begun.
It seems that recently, we’ve been reminded over and over again that our waste is growing at double the rate of our population (with Australia ranked the 5th highest contributor – eek). And it’s believed there are now 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean.
Governments, monarchies, corporations and people are starting to take notice and – more excitingly – take action.
The Queen has banned plastic straws from being used in her estates, Woolworths and Coles have pledged to get rid of single-use plastic bags, and 193 nations have signed a pledge to tackle the global crisis of plastic pollution.
But this isn’t a war for our leaders and businesses to fix alone. It’s a war for the people to take a stand in. A war that we can truly fight together, globally, for the greater good of the planet and the next generation.
HOW TO REDUCE WASTE?
Armed with savvy solutions and the right information, it’s a lot easier than you might think.
Here are 20 ways we can all reduce our waste today.
#1: get a reusable water bottle
Over 480 billion plastic bottles were sold in 2016. By 2021, this is expected to rise to 583.3 billion. When you buy a S’well bottle, you’re purchasing a beautiful reusable that you’ll have for life. The 750ml size is great for adults, and the 500ml great for kids.
#2: arm yourself with a reusable coffee cup
If we all switched to reusable coffee cups, we’d divert 500 billion disposable cups (which are lined with plastic) going to landfill each year. KeepCup’s Brew Cork collection reduces the plastic in their design while keeping all of their fabulous original features. Win!
#3: invest in a reusable straw
McDonalds has vowed to remove plastic straws from their UK restaurants and the Queen has rid them from her estates. It’s time to do the same in our own homes and daily habits. Sprocket and Steel’s reusable straws were created by a teenager on a mission to reduce the size of the Pacific Garbage Patch. Go girl!
#4: opt for reusable produce bags
Let’s say goodbye to plastic produce bags. Not only are they made from evil soft plastic (which is difficult to recycle), they cause our food to suffocate and decay faster when we bung them in the fridge. Ever Eco’s organic cotton net produce bags are beautiful, plastic-free, kind to your food, and great for the planet. This is waste-free at its finest.
#5: grab a reusable shopping bag
On average, a plastic bag is used for 12 minutes and takes 1,000 years to break down. I love Ever Eco’s organic tote bags (I prefer the long handled style so you can throw it over your shoulder on the go). They fit double the amount of groceries that you can get into a standard, single-use plastic bag. I guarantee you’ll love these so much that you’ll find yourself using them on the daily, for everything!
#6: switch to eco scrubbing brushes and pads
When mainstream plastic scrubbing brushes and sponges become worn and brittle, pieces of them break off and send micro plastic pollution down our drains and into our water systems. Not good. Eco scrubbing brushes are the answer and they’re so much nicer to use! The first time I purchased a Safix scrub pad, I was blown away by how well it worked and how long it lasted. You won’t look back. I also love scrubbing brushes by Eco Max and Ecococonut to pair with your new Safix ‘sponge’.
#7: try beeswax wraps
A genius invention that we forgot about for a century or so. Our great grandparents were using these before plastic Cling Film and Glad Wrap took over as our go-to for food storage. It’s time to go back to the old school! Apiwraps and Wrappa beeswax or vegan wax wraps are effective and chic, with a ton of great designs to choose from.
#8: rethink cotton buds
A sneaky single-use plastic item that’s crept into our homes. Have you seen the upsetting image that Justin Hofman shot of the gorgeous sea horse wrapped around a cotton bud in our beautiful ocean? Let’s make that a thing of the past. Go Bamboo produces totally plastic-free cotton buds with bamboo sticks, one of the most sustainable materials in the world.
#9: meet nature’s waste-free laundry solution
Soapberries are plastic-free, waste-free, organic, natural, chemical-free and biodegradable! They’re the dried shells of a fruit from a tree native to Asia and release a natural soaping agent. If you don’t believe me, check out this video to see them in action…
#10: reconsider your food storage
Disposable food containers were the third-largest source of litter found during the 2017 Clean Up Australia Day. And while it may seem safe to allow our food to be stored in plastic, new research on the chemicals found in plastic suggests we should be more careful. I love Black+Blum’s ‘Sandwich On Board’ lunchbox made of aluminium and bamboo. These guys are bringing the sexy back to eco with their designs.
#11: say no to single-use plastic cutlery
Another key litter offender. My favourite reusable solutions are DOIY’s sleek metal cutlery set and Rechusable’s handy cutlery pouch for on the go. Throw them into your handbag, gym bag or laptop bag so you’ll never need to reach for the plastic cutlery in the food court again
#12: begin meal prepping
1 in 5 bags of food purchased in Australia never makes it into our stomachs. We’re so bad at meal prepping and planning that 20% of the food we buy goes from the shops, to our fridges, to landfill. Planning ahead is where it’s at. And if you’re feeling really organised, you can even freeze meals in glass jars to grab on those days that you’re rushed off your feet (just leave a bit of space for the food to expand).
#13: try bamboo toothbrushes
Plastic toothbrushes have been found in ocean and beach clean ups across the globe. Not only are they a large litter offender, they’re also not yet accepted at council recycling facilities, with TerraCycle being the only national scheme accepting them. The Humble Co. makes gorgeous bamboo toothbrushes with different coloured bristles so you can keep your family colour-coding on point!
#14: introduce essential oils into your home
These little bottles of magic are the golden ingredients for DIY skincare and cleaning products. Essential oils come with a huge list of health benefits but are also an essential waste-less tool for any eco warrior. Here’s 16 natural cleaning recipes to get you started.
#15: check out reusable coffee pods
If we used refillable coffee pods instead of disposable ones, we’d divert 20 billion plastic coffee pods from landfill each year. Sealpod and WayCap are great reusable alternatives.
#16: try cloth nappies
Disposable nappies are the third largest consumer item in landfills! And it takes hundreds of years for conventional nappies to decompose. Cloth nappies have come a long way in recent years and are now available in gorgeous patterns and prints, easy-to-use styles, and simpler-than-ever care instructions.
#17: reusable baby wipes
Did you know there was such a thing? They’re a hassle-free and easy alternative to disposable baby wipes that are healthy for baby, safe for the environment, and better for your wallet! Cheeki Wipes are the most awarded reusable baby wipes on the market, voted “Best Accessory” in the 2016 and 2017 Cloth Nappy Awards.
#18: check out Kuu Konjac sponges
Totally natural and biodegradable, packaged in cardboard. So much love for these. My favourite is their Bamboo Charcoal Sponge which contains activated carbon and various minerals, revitalising your complexion and tightening your pores. It can be used with your favourite cleanser or alone with water.
#19: try reusable period products
If 1 million women switched to using menstrual cups or reusable pads, we’d divert 240 million disposable tampons (and their packaging) from landfill every year. There are tons of great solutions available to us now to reduce our sanitary waste. Check out Modibodi, Hannahpad and Lunette to get your research started.
#20: start composting
If 10% of Aussies composted their food waste, they’d stop 450 million kg of greenhouse gas pollution entering the atmosphere! When food is sent to landfill, the lack of oxygen it receives when decomposing results in the production of methane, a gas which is 20 times worse than carbon dioxide.