Part one of this blog focussed on replacing common household items with more sustainable alternatives. In this article I’m planning to talk about things you can actually do to lead a more sustainable life.
Before I start I want to acknowledge that I am really fortunate to live within a community that makes a lot of these things easy for me to do. Not everyone is so lucky, but hopefully at least one of these ideas might inspire you!
Join A Buy Nothing Group
My friends will know I am a BIG lover of my local buy nothing group. The buy nothing movement is all about giving away things you don't need to people in your local community. It's also about receiving useful gifts from your neighbours, recycling pre-loved objects, and buying less stuff. They're set up as facebook groups and are divided into suburbs or areas.
This means that you are giving and receiving in a local area, and within your community. People will post items that they would like to give away and others can then show their interest in the comments. Usually people will pick a name from a hat, or they might choose based on the most creative answer! You can also request things in the group; I recently put a call out for a set of bicycle panniers (see photo above) and received a pair the same day! It's remarkable how many items that might otherwise have been gathering dust, or worse, going to landfill are able to find a second life in someone else's home.
Now, it's worth noting that not all buy nothing groups are created equal. I am part of an extremely active group, but I have other friends who haven't had such good luck. It's worth looking up the group in your area and seeing what's happening. Who knows? You might just find exactly what you're looking for, and you won’t have to pay a cent! Find your local group and read more on their website, or by searching for buy nothing and your suburb on Facebook.
Soft Plastic Recycling
Near the entrance to your local ColesWorths there's a big plastic bag on a frame. This is your soft plastics recycling station. It's a fantastic initiative run by REDcycle, a company that turns your plastic rubbish into a re-useable product. This can then be turned into traffic cones, bollards, outdoor furniture and more.
What can you put in the REDcycle bin?
Soft, scrunchable plastic items such as plastic bags, outer wrappings from food (packaging from cereal, pasta, lollies, bread bags etc)
Old green bags
Cling wrap and cellophane
Bubble wrap & more!
Make sure the plastic is clean, dry, and no larger than A3 size.
I've hung a separate bag next to the bin for my soft plastic recycling- it's a really easy way to cut down on what you send to landfill. For more information, check out their website.
Reduce Your Food Waste
The average Australian household throws away 20% of all the food they buy, which is over $1000 worth of food every year. Organic waste makes up 40% of a household’s rubbish bins, and food that goes to landfill creates a whole lotta methane. All this is bad for your budget, and bad for the environment. These statistics are taken from FoodWise and are just household food waste, this isn’t even taking into account the waste generated by supermarkets and the hospitality industry.
Next time you cook dinner, try to use up the oldest things in the fridge first. Look up a recipe online, call a friend (call me!), or open up a dusty recipe book before you disregard those gnarly beetroots or wilted greens. You might surprise yourself with what you can create from the dregs of the fridge! I’m working on a blog post about what I like to call Fridge Challenge Dinners, so keep an eye out for more inspiration soon!
Composting is a great way to reduce the impact of your food waste. I am fortunate to live in an apartment complex that has a compost bin available for me. If you're not so lucky you can jump on the Share Waste App which allows you to find someone in your area that has a compost bin looking for scraps. There is also a community composter at the Canberra Environment Centre, although last I checked they were at capacity.
The ACT government has been rolling out a trial system of green waste bins across various suburbs in Canberra. Hopefully this initiative will soon be commonplace!
Ride A Bike
First up I'm going to re-acknowledge my privilege. I am super fortunate to live in a convenient location that has good bike paths, I know not everyone is so lucky. Earlier this year I made a commitment to ride my bike more often and BOY I'm glad I did. Riding to and from work has not only saved me a fortune on parking and petrol but it's also made me a much happier and healthier person. The time I spend riding my bike is a great opportunity to have a minute to myself to think about the day. Riding home from work is especially therapeutic: by the time I get home I've de-stressed and I'm ready to fully relax.
In the morning it can be super hard to motivate yourself to ride, especially when you start as early as me, so I've developed a few tricks to make it easy for myself.
Get a bike that you love to ride. Sure, everyone's got some clunky piece of junk that's been rusting away in the shed, but if the chain keeps coming off and changing gears sounds like a heavy metal concert then you're not going to enjoy the experience. My new bike is the best purchase I made this year. There are plenty of good second hand options out there, and if you do decide to keep your old clunky beast then make sure you go and get it serviced.
Plan your route! I almost never ride on the roads because I hate it. I feel unsafe and it's a stressful experience. Even though it takes a little longer, I've found a fantastic route that takes me on the bike path through the nature reserves on O'Conner Ridge.
Organise your riding gear and a change of clothes before bed. I pack my work clothes into a bag and leave my riding clothes out and ready to wear. Make the riding clothes the laziest option for getting dressed in the morning.
Queue up a playlist and save it for your rides! Make your daily commute an opportunity to listen to something you're interested in. If you need any podcast recommendations HIT ME UP, I'm ya gal.
And remember, be gentle to yourself. It's not a race, and you don't have to be an expert. It's okay to take a little longer or to walk up the big hill. Lycra clad public servants may whizz by, but your pace is your pace and you don't have to prove yourself to anyone! Allow enough time to take it at a leisurely pace and enjoy the scenery. Once you make riding part of your routine it becomes easy to do.
Go To The Farmers Market
I know, I know. It's me again banging on about the farmers market. But I LOVE THEM and I will NEVER shut up about it.
Buying local produce is more sustainable! Buying straight from the farmer supports local business and builds community! Farmers market produce is fresher! You can get great bargains! If you need any more convincing I would point you in the direction of my love letter to the farmers market parts ONE and TWO.
So there you go! A few more ways for you to lead a more environmentally sustainable life.
If you have more suggestions PLEASE hit me up on social media, or in the comments below. I love talking to you!
And remember that you can share the blog with your friends and family, it really helps me out when you do.
Talk soon friends!