It’s easy to feel overwhelmed on this topic and then do nothing, but I truly believe small changes lead to big changes and any improvement is a positive one. I put together a list of some key things we can do as individuals to help the larger collective. Hopefully it can inspire you to become a little more aware of your environmental footprint:
- Eat sustainability
WWF said it well “ Farming animals for meat and dairy requires space and huge inputs of water and feed. Today, one of the biggest causes of forest loss is the expansion of agricultural land for animal feed production, such as soy. And producing meat creates vastly more carbon dioxide than plants such as vegetables, grains and legumes.
Moving away from a meat-dominated diet towards a more plant-based diet can lower your impact on the environment. Vegetarian and vegan foods are massively on the rise and becoming far more common in restaurants, cafes and supermarkets, so you’ll rarely struggle. Not only that, but cutting down on meat and dairy products can reduce your weekly food bills.” Read their article on ways to eat more sustainably for more ideas.
- Buy a keep cup
This is an easy one folks – if you have a caffeine/tea habit, just think of the difference you can make by buying a reusable cup (Joco , Sol). Plenty of cafes even sell them themselves now, so it’s super easy, but here are a few options if you can’t find any. Think of how many plastic lids, and paper cups you save in the process. Yes a lot of them are recyclable but the point is trying to reduce our consumption, with recycling as the next best option. Think of the factory’s used to create those paper cups and lids and the transport needed to get it to the cafes – it’s all having an impact on our environment. Plus there are plenty of cafes that will discount your drink if you bring your own keep cup, like these.
- Get reusable beeswax wrap instead of glad wrap, cling film or tin foil
This is another simple and effective swap out from your shop that will not only save you money but save the planet. Think of the plastic consumption from all that glad wrap and how much you tend to over use it as well in the process. A simple solution is beeswax wrap which is reusable, easy to wipe down and does the job amazingly well. Here are a few places you can find them: Honeywrap, Lilybee Wrap, Kiwi Wraps, and Bee Green Wraps.
- If you really need a straw, buy a reusable one and take it with you
Let’s be honest, straws are a bit of a weird one. When did we start getting so fussy that we can’t just sip out of the glass? But ok, I get sometimes you don’t want your lipstick to smudge, or you don’t trust the cleanliness of the glass. So if you are concerned enough to need a straw, just get your own and reuse it. Just picture those turtles with straws stuck up their noses and other horrifying images that should make you think twice about your luxury item. Make a change! Buy them at Shut The Front Door and Moana Road and Caliwoods.
- Buy local produce and avoid online and overseas shipping and transport
This is something I never even thought about for ages, it just didn’t cross my mind. Of course there are lots of reasons why it’s great to buy local, but a big one is the environmental impact of not. Think airplanes to ship stuff over, then stuff getting taken to a depot, then a distribution centre, then finally out to the shops/markets. Let’s nip it in the bud and go down to our local farmers markets for fresh produce, or try buy kiwi made brands rather than imported, local fish rather than shipped in, the list goes on and I’m sure you get my drift. Of course the added bonus is that we LOVE to support our local kiwi company’s so it is a win win situation. And we make the best stuff obvvvvvviously.
- Recycle effectively
We all know we can be a bit rushed for time and sometimes throw stuff into the bin without being entirely sure we are doing it correctly, or what’s what. Furthermore we don’t sometimes realise with recycling things need to be rinsed out to be effective. I know it’s a great step separating your rubbish for recycling, but all of that is in vain if it can’t actually be recycled due to a small mistake. Here is a guide from Aukland Council to how to separate your rubbish for recycling and remember some Countdown’s in Auckland offer to recycle your soft plastics so you can take it to the next level and separate those. It is super satisfying when you realise your landfill rubbish is minimal, once you combine recycling, soft plastic recycling and point number 6 up next!
Come onnnnnn you can do it 🙂 I know it might seem daunting but it is such an easy process to include in your routine that has a huge impact, so why not give it a go. You can go into a Bunnings and/or Mitre 10 and pick up a composting bin, or there’s ones like Bokashi that also make your life easier. I have a small and cute composting bin in my kitchen, then a larger composting bin in the garden, or just out the back if you don’t have a garden. It’s great and over time you will be able to produce fertiliser either for you or someone you knows garden and they will love you for it. You can even go one step further and create a worm farm if you’re super keen. These are great initiatives you and your family can get set up over a weekend and make it a team effort.
- Buy clothes you REALLY need, but spend more for higher quality, so longer lasting
Throwaway fashion is deadly. It’s impact on the planet is huge from production and the whole supply chain. If it’s that cheap you should be asking yourself some serious moral questions about what it has taken to achieve that. Nothing comes for free my friends and anyway – who wants to buy something that gets holes in it within weeks or months and has to be thrown away. Invest in less but make it count. Lululemon is expensive but the quality is incredible, plus they have some serious replacement guarantees. Same with Patagonia. But there are also loads of great sustainable fashion brands out there of a high quality that you will love. Do a bit of research – it could even be fun 🙂
- Minimise buying into trends
I know for some people this is tricky because fashion is a passion of theirs, but I would ask you to at least have a think about this one and not rule it out. Fashion trends are often fleeting and it’s those things you wear once, never again, and then throw out a year later. Bright colours and crazy patterns that seemed cool at the time, often don’t seem so cool later on and are hard to work with the rest of your wardrobe. I’m not saying just wear black, but if you invest in a base wardrobe of a simple palette like black, white, grey, green, brown etc. you can re-wear those pieces for ever and it never goes out of style; it’s easy to create loads of different outfits AND those tend to be the pieces you come back to as a fail safe, time and time again. Think about the little black dress, a blue denim and white t shirt combo, a crisp white shirt with pretty much anything, a (faux) black leather jacket, or a classic blazer.
- Holiday a bit closer to home or at least minimise unnecessary flights
We live in a pretty incredible country that allows us diverse landscapes, a ridiculous number of different activities and lots of amazing weather. We all know deep down how bad flying is for the enibrnment, I mean just look at the size of those engines, and think about where you are putting them and for how long at a time. I know I have been guilty of taking long flights to travel, and of course you’re going to do that, and you should but when we are talking about short holidays, why not be a little more aware and make some choices that at least reduce the impact. Trains around Europe instead of short haul flights. Ferry’s instead of small planes when you can, driving instead of flying – going to the beautiful Cook Islands instead of all the way over to the Maldives. And if you are going to fly, let’s start clicking that offsetting carbon button when we do. Let’s take responsibility for our actions, instead of the classic flexible morality we all are guilty of when it suits. Here is a link to a website where you can calculate your own carbon footprint and offset as you wish.
- AVOID bottled water
In New Zealand that is. I mean guys, it’s basically the biggest marketing ploy ever that’s gone mad. There is nothing wrong with our tap water, and if you do feel that strongly about it, invest in a water filter at your home. But do not buy water in those plastic bottles, or glass for that matter. It’s estimated that it takes 3 litres of water to produce a 1 litre bottle of water. There are many other environmental impacts from the production of water that all bring us back to the same conclusion – the cheapest and most environmentally responsible water to drink, is the stuff that comes out of our taps. Here is a link to some handy information on the cost of bottled water on the environment.
This article isn’t here to make you feel guilty or shameful if you fall foul of any of the above habits. I am sure we have all at some point in our lives done most if not all of them. It’s about moving forward, and educating ourselves and once we have that information at our finger tips, making a conscious effort to improve. I’m not saying you will go out at change each of these things in your life straight away, and maybe you won’t do any of them. But if you could aim for slowly bringing about 1 each month, imagine the difference you are making. Plus, you might inspire others with or without evening realising it, to also make a change.