There are lots of good reasons to live more sustainably – for your health, for your wallet, for the planet. Whatever your reason why, we’ve pulled together a few of the “hows” to help you make the little changes that can add up to a big difference.
When we eat food that is available locally and in season, we cut down on the energy requirements for food transport and storage. Buying food that is in season is often also cheaper. Local farmer’s markets are a great way to ensure you are eating seasonally and locally. For a hyper-local option, start your own veggie patch with a simple crop of a few herbs, lettuce and tomatoes.
Keep cups, containers for leftovers and Green supermarket bags are all simple ways we can cut down on the waste we use and produce. Storing food without plastic means you won’t be putting that clingwrap in the bin in a few days, and you won’t be needing to restock it from the supermarket every few weeks.
Before hitting the shops, consider what it is you are buying. Is it something you could borrow or hire? Could you find it in a more sustainable option, perhaps buying it in bulk or second hand? For big purchases, consider the ongoing sustainability benefits such as energy and water ratings. Toy libraries are a great sustainable option for kids toys, and are often associated with council libraries – another sustainable favourite for books, magazines, DVDs, newspapers and more.
On average, Australian’s throw away 1 in 5 of their shopping bags of food1. That is a lot of wasted food, but also a lot of wasted money! To reduce your food waste “shop” your fridge and pantry before you head to the supermarket – you might find enough there for a couple more meals that would otherwise have turned bad. A good hint is to create a space in your fridge, front and centre, where you can keep the food that needs to be eaten first – think leftovers, half cartons of cream or yoghurt, or sliced meats. Anyone searching around for a snack can see immediately what they should be tucking into.
Or a worm farm, or an under-the-sink bokashi – however you do it, removing food scraps from landfill and turning it into a sustainable, soil enriching medium is a win-win situation. Food waste in landfill produces methane, which directly causes global warming, as well as indirectly through the release of carbon dioxide. A recent study found that Australians are generating methane equivalent to around 6.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by not disposing of food scraps in a sustainable manner2.
Clothing manufacturers and retailers now bring out new clothes on a seemingly constant cycle. Resist the urge to continually purchase the latest, cheap trends and instead invest in quality, classic pieces which will see you through a few years. Better yet, shop for these items at second hand clothing stores or op shops. You can pick up a bargain, enjoy a unique look and live sustainably.
Opt to receive bills, notices and newsletters online, rather than getting printed copies. Use your phone, tablet or computer for notetaking.
Aiming to live more sustainability is a long-term goal, and one which has multiple benefits. Don’t be put off if you can’t do everything on the list straight away – even small, consistent changes can make a big difference over time.