Everyday sustainability - More than 3 but less than 7 simple ways to be a bit more sustainable.

Hi,

 

Welcome to the second Alter Community blog! Thanks so much for stopping in for a few minutes. My name is Alex and I’m writing this blog to point out some ways to be a little more sustainable.

 

Alter Community is totally judgement free, and we understand the relationship between sustainability vs practically.  We would encourage everyone to do what they can when it comes to sustainability.

 

See, being more sustainable is a choice that you make. It isn’t something you do by accident and it’s not always the most convenient or cheapest way to live, but it is a choice that you can make. It’s a choice that has a positive impact on the world. Sometimes it’s as simple as a choice that breaks an old habit and starts a new routine.

 

Alter Community knows that something small, when done consistently over a long period of time, turns that something small, into something big.    

 

One of the best examples of this is a sustainable coffee cup.

 

I’m currently sitting in Brisbane’s hottest and coolest new cafe, The House (32 caswell street east Brisbane). I’m drinking a batch brew in my coconut husk coffee cup. Personally, I’ve been using reusable coffee cups for almost 5 years now and estimate that I have saved around 1500 takeaway coffee cups. It’s a decision I and many others make to try and be little more sustainable. It’s not always the most convenient; however, it’s a choice that has helped me save those potential 1500 cups and lids from going into landfill. A reusable coffee cup is a great example of a choice you can make to be little more sustainable... but that is pretty common knowledge. So, in this blog I have 5 more experiences that could help you live more sustainably.

 

Remember it’s a choice, it’s not always the most convenient or cheapest option, but it’s a choice you make for a positive impact on our planet.

 

  1. No more tea bags!

 

Having a cuppa is very regular behaviour for millions. Many tea bags are made of permeable papers and fine plastics. Lots of them are not biodegradable. They can also contain harmful chemicals. So, by reducing your use of tea bags, you not only reduce waste heading straight into landfill but the material of the bag itself could be harming your health!

There is a great alternative - loose-leaf tea! There are so many advantages when it comes to loose-leaf tea. Obviously, significantly less packaging is the biggest plus, but it’s also better for your health, and many say it tastes much better.

Loose-leaf tea would require the purchase of a tea pot and takes just a little more effort to prepare. Is that a choice you are willing to make for a positive impact?

 

2. Start a compost.

 

Australians throw away (on average) one third of all of the groceries they buy! In landfill these organic wastes do not provide any enriching benefit to our soils and produce harmful greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide. You can divert so much of your waste from landfill just by composting food scraps, organic waste and compostable packaging. It’s as simple as collecting compostables in the kitchen and setting up a compost bin in the garden.

Don’t have a garden? That’s okay, you can still compost! You could either do a quick google search to see if there are any community compost spots local to you or use one of the many composting services like BioPak who will come to you and take the compost you have collected.

 

3. Say goodbye to aerosol propellants

 

Some aerosol propellants such as Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) can have quite a seriously harmful effect on the planet and our health. They are manmade chemicals that, when shot into the air on a large enough scale can deplete the ozone, affecting the amount of heat that is trapped in our atmosphere. This alters the way clouds form and increases exposure to harmful UV radiation. In terms of human health, excessive use of aerosols can have damaging effects such as short-term asthma and bronchitis, or long-term chronic inflammation and irritation in the respiratory tract. The good news is that the majority of aerosols used around the house can be replaced with cleaner alternatives. For example, you can swap your aerosol propellant spray-on deodorant for a roll-on stick, or your spray oil can with a pouring (glass) bottle.

 

As with anything, we encourage you to do your own research as it’s quite a complex topic. However, aerosols definitely have a complicated effect on the planet and it is clear that large amount of fine materials in the air (like those caused by aerosols) are detrimental to human health.

 

4. BYO Cutlery

 

Avoid ever needing single-use plastic cutlery on your lunch break by taking your own from home. A similar concept to a a reusable coffee cup, just put the metal cutlery in your bag or pocket and you are set.

You could even step it by talking your own lunchbox or Tupperware style container to avoid using plastic takeaway ones.

 

5. No need for plastic bags.

 

Avoid using plastic bags regularly. This is another one that we all know, however, one I wanted to mention to encourage you to keep going! It’s so easy to pack a few reusable shopping bags, tote bags or even a basket when you shop. Admittedly, it is also very easy to forgot them! So, if you drive, keep a few of them in the car so they’re always on hand.

Quite often I hear: “I need plastic bags for my bin bags!”. But you can purchase biodegradable bin liners or biobags. So, you can confidently say goodbye to plastic.

 

6. Use reef-safe sunscreens

 

Our corals and coral reefs (that support many thousands of species) are fragile and are being damaged in a multitude of ways. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to save these reef ecosystems. As individuals though, we can have a huge impact just by our purchase choices.

Chemicals found in standard sunscreens can cause damage to corals. The most visual representation is coral bleaching, but some of these chemicals can also cause corals to become more susceptible to diseases. By choosing reef-safe sunscreen you are doing the ocean (and yourself) a massive favour.  Look for sunscreens without oxybenzone and octinoxate in listed the ingredients and try to find those with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the active ingredients.

 

Luckily, there are so many reef-safe options to choose from. I recommend looking around for a local small business to support.

 

Obviously there is a level of practicality and accessibility that we understand affects how you make your choices.

 

Even right now, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many cafes are only using take-away coffee cups. So, it’s your choice. You could spare the time to sit in for a coffee, aim to find cafes with biodegradable or compostable takeaway cups, or opt to give it a miss.

 

All of the above are choices that only you can make. Being more sustainable doesn’t happen by accident. I quite often find without good routine or planning ahead, it’s much harder to stick to it. Consuming content about being sustainable is great but no one can be more sustainable for you. Most of these examples are just small things that will hopefully help you but also get you thinking of new, creative ways you could live slightly more sustainably.

 

Once you start putting it into practice and find a routine, it becomes easier and easier. Within only a few weeks, your impact will be great and meaningful.

 

I hope this helps, remember to wash your hands.

 

Thanks for reading

 

Alex

 

Alter Community

2 comments

  • Great post. Another tip – choose products that are packaged sustainably. Send companies an email if they use inordinate amounts of wasteful plastic packaging in their products.

    Laurie
  • Great, practical tips Al! It’s hard to know where to start with a more sustainable lifestyle. So Thank-you! 😊🙏🏻

    Rachel

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