For me, climate change is the single biggest issue of our time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel helpless by photos of diminished glaciers, cracked-dry farms and emaciated polar bears. It certainly feels like any small actions we take as individuals amount to nothing, but it all adds up.
Here is a list of the things I’ve changed in order to reduce waste and try and reduce my carbon footprint. I have a long way to go and often feel like I’m drowning in plastic but I’m trying to learn something every day. That said, voting with the environment in mind is probably the most important action you can take.
Plastic + other single use items
The recycling industry where I live recently collapsed and all our recyclable products went to landfill for over a month (!!). It was a really scary reminder that we can’t rely on recycling, we need to reduce the amount of waste we produce. Here’s some things I do:
- We try to minimise ordering Uber Eats as much as possible and when we do, we ask the restaurant not to supply cutlery and reuse the containers over and over.
- I never use plastic bags (even with clothes shopping) and have these handy produce bags for bread, fruit and veg at the supermarket.
- I recently swapped from bottled shampoo and conditioner to Lush bars which are packaging-free. My hair has never looked better! We also use bars of soap instead of plastic bottles of shower gel.
- We’ve swapped from hand wash gel to bars of soap.
- I never use plastic food wrap (glad wrap), I use a container or put a plate on top of a bowl.
- I recently bought a Face Halo washer instead of using miscellar water (in a plastic bottle) and disposable cotton pads.
- I never buy bottled water (it’s free from the tap!), coffee without a reusable cup or use plastic straws.
Food + diet
Andy and I really need to reduce our meat intake, I’m putting it here to remind myself!
We live in an apartment and have started using this compost bucket to remove all our food waste from landfill. Food that ends up at the tip emits methane which is terrible for the environment. Using the bucket has been a revelation and I wish we started sooner! It’s super easy and makes it really obvious when you’re throwing out spoilt produce that you didn’t get around to eating (a good reminder to buy less). The bin juice from all the decomposed fruit and veggies is like crack for all my indoor plants. I have so many new leaves since using it.
You eventually need to bury the waste so we found a local lady on the Share Waste app with a huge worm farm to take the contents of the bin. In return, she gave us some of her fresh produce. Win win!
Car use + transport
Andy and I both take the train to and from work. I don’t drive every day but I wish I was better at not using my car at all. I mostly use it to drive to the gym so I really need to find a gym within walking distance. At present I haven’t used my car for two full days. Once we get fully separated bike lanes on Exhibition Street in Melbourne I’d love to start riding to work.
Electricity + water
According to Choice, heating water is the second most energy intensive activity after heating and cooling your home.
We don’t have a clothes dryer or a dishwasher and we wash all our clothes in cold water. We don’t have an air-conditioner and try really hard to put on extra clothes and blankets before switching on the heater.
I have been meaning to look into a renewable energy provider for a while, I know Tango Energy uses wind power. If you have any tips on this please let me know. When I was renting in Kalgoorlie we had solar panels on the roof and owed nothing to the power company every month! Heaven.
Our small two-bedroom apartment makes it really easy not to buy new stuff because we literally have nowhere to store it!
I never buy anything online as I was super shocked to learn that a lot of major retailers end up putting returned items in landfill because it’s cheaper than repackaging.
I have rediscovered my love for op-shopping and have been exploring ways to revamp some of my old products (I recently dyed a pair of shoes with leather dye instead of a new buying pair).
At the moment I’m trying to buy second-hand wedding decorations wherever possible and if I can’t, I buy things that can be on-sold after the wedding.
Where I need to do better
We love to travel, but flying burns fossil fuels like there’s no tomorrow. I need to start off-setting all my flights.
We still throw out (recycle) heaps of plastic; yogurt tubs, berry containers, cleanser bottles, used makeup containers, beer and wine bottles. I know there are bulk food stores where you can buy things like washing up detergent in a reusable bottle, I need to look into this. Also, the Queen Victoria Market has a shop where you can refill wine bottles.
I still buy new clothes and fast fashion too frequently. I do try to wear my clothes as much as possible and give away or sell things I won’t wear anymore. I used to donate a lot to charity bins but they are overwhelmed with so much stuff that they end up having to throw it out anyway.
I also want to buy a washing bag that collects micro plastics from synthetic clothing so it doesn’t end up in the ocean.
Got any more tips? Would love to hear what you’re doing in this space.
I’ve not used glad wrap for ages but switched to bees wax covers! Food stays fresh for way longer. We also switched to bamboo toothbrushes and shower scrubber. We’ve also been buying environmentally friendly dishwashing liquid and kitchen spray and ove just discovered that this brand has refillable stations around London for detergent and a few other things so I need to find one near me! Washable cloth pads instead of cotton has been great, and I’ve also made the switch to a cup for ‘that time of the month’, took a while to get used to but now I couldn’t go back.
Thank you so much for reminding me about cups, I’ve really been meaning to get one. Everyone I know who has used one raves about them. Andy uses a bamboo toothbrush- I need to get on board! Do you find the bottom of it gets a bit manky from sitting in a cup? Sounds like you’re doing an amazing job!!
You should try cycling now anyway! I cycle along Exhibition St and you do get used to it. Most of the time traffic is fairly slow in the CBD anyway and it’s such a brilliant way to exercise, clear your mind before and after work and not use the car or stuffy public transport. I’ve been cycling to work for about 18 months now and I can’t imagine not doing it!
You know what?! You’re right! I’m always advocating cycling (through work) so I need to just bite the bullet and do it. In fact, today I figured out I could go on the yarra trail all the way to St Kilda Road/Swanston Street, so I can pretty much avoid cars all the way! No excuses now. Except I need to go out and buy a bike lol. At work we have a fleet of electric bikes we can use to get to meetings, they are SO much fun because you can just fly up all the hills. If only we could take them home.