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10 ways you can help protect the planet

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Our planet is beautiful so it makes sense that we want to protect it. There’s currently a huge drive to make sustainable changes in the way we live in a bid for each person to contribute to preserving the world around us. However, sometimes it can be hard to know where to start!

In recognition of Earth Hour this month and Earth Day next month, we’ve put together ten ways that you can help to reduce your waste and switch to sustainable options around your home to give back to the environment.

1.    Eat sustainably

We want to eat sustainably so that we are producing nutrition with minimal resources. Did you know that Aussies throw out $8 billion of edible food every year? When it gets to the end of the week and you throw away your unused food, this wastes the energy, water and resources that went into growing, shipping and selling it. What we eat contributes to almost 60% of global biodiversity loss and large-scale goods production accounts for up to 25% of percent of greenhouse emissions.

When it comes to food, you can also help protect the planet by choosing food from farmers that aim to have as little impact on the land as possible, opt for grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables and non-processed foods to fill meals, buy food that meets credible certified standards, and plant some veggies in the backyard and start growing your own!

2.    Reduce and reuse

There are a number of ways that you can reduce your plastic use and change your day-to-day actions to reduce your impact on our environment. Here are some of the ways that you can give up plastics and waste around the home and create a sustainable house:

3.    Conserve water

It’s the little things that count. Water can slip away without us noticing so save water with these simple tips:

  • Turn the tap off so it doesn’t keep running while you brush your teeth.
  • Don’t turn the shower on before you’re ready to get in and choose a water-saving shower head.
  • Try not to over-flush the toilet (does a common Aussie saying come to mind?).
  • Be sure to fix those leaky taps quickly (even a slowly dripping tap can waste up to 20,000 litres a year!)
  • Make sure the hose is turned off after use.
  • Wait until the dishwasher is full to turn it on.
  • Opt for a quick shower instead of a bath.
  • Consider reducing your plastic usage by choosing tap water (or filtered tap water).
  • Swap to organic fertilisers in your garden to prevent chemicals and pesticides flowing into our water system.

4.    Travel responsibly

Light vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes such as cars, 4x4s, SUVs and small commercial vehicles – account for 10% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. To lower your environmental impact, consider how you travel and opt for sustainable ways to move about. In Australia close to 87% of commuters travel by car. While travel itself can impact the environment, cars also have a large environmental footprint before they even hit the road as well as at the end of their life. If car is your travel of choice, try to make some adjustments to your usage to reduce fuel consumption. You can do things like not turning your car on to warm it up before you head off for the day (modern cars don’t require this), reducing your load for easier trips, ensuring that you don’t over fill the tank, remove roof racks when not in use, choose the aircon over having the windows down when moving at higher speeds, and car pool when the opportunity arises. Also look for alternate transport options, opt to walk and bike ride more often and use the commute time to read, listen to a podcast or catch up on your favourite show.

5.    Plant trees

A single tree can consume just over 21kg of carbon dioxide per year at its most productive stage of life, turning it into enough oxygen for you to breathe for two years! Trees are fantastic, not only do they help to combat climate change by drawing greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere, they also remove sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other particles and also purify soil and water. Did you know that Australia has a commitment to planting 1 billion trees by 2050 in an effort to combat climate change? Let’s all pull together and get planting!

 6.    Go chemical-free

When it comes to cleaning there are a number of products available that don’t contain carcinogens (toxic chemicals) that pollute the air inside your home. In fact, the average home can contain 62 different types of toxic chemicals. There are now a number of more environmentally friendly options on the market, however if you feel so inclined you can also make your own cleaning concoctions using everyday items such as bicarb, lemon and vinegar or utilising essential oils.

7.    Switch to digital

We waste a lot of paper when it comes to learning and working resources. Whenever possible, opt to use a device such as a laptop or e-reader or if you really need to print – print on both sides of the page. Additionally, you can remove the waste associated with printing and filing by moving to digital filing systems and storing everything in the cloud and on hard drive.

8.    Save electricity

Try looking for ways to make your home more energy efficient. Not only will you reduce the greenhouse gas emissions produced, but you will also save money! Here are some ways that you can save electricity:

  • Use energy-efficient light bulbs such as CFL and LED.
  • Make sure that you turn off lights when you leave the room or the house.
  • Turn off appliances that enter standby mode when you aren’t using them.
  • Cut down on using your air conditioning or heaters when it’s not necessary.
  • Use the clothesline instead of the dryer.
  • Set up your home to retain warmth and reduce heat absorption by selecting the right plants, building resources, ensuring your windows are efficient, and your home is insulated correctly.

9. Repurpose and reuse

How do we reduce waste? Don’t create it. Repurposing and reusing items saves you money while also recycling items. Best of all, it helps the environment by reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfill and the new materials and energy that are used to create new items. How can you use items to their fullest extent? Here are some suggestions:

  • Buy pre-loved. Look online on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree to find items you are looking for.
  • Maintain your home items such as appliances so that they don’t need to be replaced as regularly.
  • Borrow, rent or share items with friends and family for items you only need infrequently (party decorations, tools, furniture etc.)
  • Donate to your local charity – your trash may be another person’s treasure!
  • Repurpose items around the home – e.g. an old tyre can make a great plant feature, socks without their matching pair can be used as rags, and glass jars can become storage containers.

10.  Compost

Did you know that every Australian, on average, produces about 180 kg of food and garden waste a year? If that is sent to rot in landfill, it produces 15.3 kg of methane gas – a toxic greenhouse gas with global warming potential 21 times that of carbon dioxide. Composting is an easy way for you to do your bit to reduce global warming. When you compost you eliminate the methane and send the carbon back into the soil when you dig it into your soil. Once the matter starts to break down it captures atmospheric carbon dioxide too! If you want to get started you can find some handy hints here.

How big is your environmental footprint? Find out here!

Do you have some easy tips on reducing waste and switching to sustainable that you have implemented around your home? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

 

11 comments

  1. Steve says:

    Good one! It’s time more people thought about the consequences of their everyday actions. It’s so easy to minimise waste.
    Trees just start to sprout naturally if you don’t keep mowing them down. Look out for the new growth that is different to the rest of your lawn. It is possibly a native tree trying to propagate.

  2. Mavis says:

    :1) eat less meat and more pulses
    2) use a bucket to collect your shower and hand-washing water to flush toilets
    3) walk, cycle, take public transport wherever possible
    4) wrap non-combustible foods in news/waste paper instead of lining bins with plastic bags
    5) carry your own reusable water-bottle
    6) search Op shops before buying new

  3. Gwyneth says:

    I think you meant to leave out the word plastic when looking at replacement straw options.

  4. Wendy M says:

    Isn’t it funny how things we used to do have come round full circle. Borax, vinegar, ammonia as cleaners. Natural fibres for everything from your tooth brush to your pot scrubbers. House plants cleaning your inside air, composting food waste (when you really couldn’t eat all on your plate when told that there were kids starving in Africa). Using fabric shopping bags, buying local produce, buying only what food was needed, buying secondhand, passing clothing down buying quality products and appliances for the long term. Also, if we didn’t have the money for it, we didn’t buy it, we either saved up if it was really necessary or did without.

  5. Chris says:

    Good that the first tip is about our food. Animal products are an environmental disaster for our planet but most people don’t want to know about it. Meat costs the Earth.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like wartime Britain. We were healthier,slimmer,
    and in many ways happier with a simple life. Except for the threat of invasion.

  7. Joan Payne AM says:

    Thank you for ways to reduce our ecological footprint. For decades I have sought to be environmentally responsible.

    You could add when selecting trees/shrubs try and always select local native plants which provide habitat for birds/reptiles/insects. Unfortunately non native trees which may be attractive (eg Jacaranda, have little biodiversity value and habitat for native fauna.

    Thank you

  8. THanks Erin for your tips.
    Does anyone know about a USB stick which can restore a dead CPU/laptop by putting back all the essential info that used to be on the harddrive.
    Anne

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wendy M
    June 30, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    Isn’t it funny how things we used to do have come round full circle. Borax, vinegar, ammonia as cleaners. Natural fibres for everything from your tooth brush to your pot scrubbers. House plants cleaning your inside air, composting food waste (when you really couldn’t eat all on your plate when told that there were kids starving in Africa). Using fabric shopping bags, buying local produce, buying only what food was needed, buying secondhand, passing clothing down buying quality products and appliances for the long term. Also, if we didn’t have the money for it, we didn’t buy it, we either saved up if it was really necessary or did without.
    I am on the dole, and buy everything I want.
    Why do you need my email address, if it is not published?

  10. Jac says:

    Say no to plastic straws and opt for metal, plastic or paper ones………

  11. Kim says:

    Buy reusable coffee pods online and use them in your coffee machine. Hotyer coffee or tea.

    Buy powdered milk – lighter to carry home, hotter tea, lots less plastic waste and … it’s cheaper. Last a lot longer too

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