Author: Emily Yong; Illustration: Robin Lao
Clean Up Australia originated almost 30 years ago, and today, the organisation’s chief focus is on minimising the amount of rubbish that is disposed of into the environment.
Started by Ian Kiernan, Clean Up Australia originated from a community event he organised in response to the massive amounts of pollution and waste he witnessed as a sailor. This idea gained community traction, and more than 18.3m Australians have volunteered since. Making a big difference always begins with a small step. We have collated a few, easy ways that you can lead a more eco friendly lifestyle below:
1. Purchase Products with Recyclable, Biodegradable or Compostable Packaging
One of the simplest ways to decrease your environmental footprint is to purchase products with environmentally friendly packaging. Ultimately, packaging has a short life cycle whereby consumers dispose of it shortly upon a purchase. Recycling is great, provided it is done correctly, but biodegradable and compostable materials will eventually completely disappear.
Biodegradable materials contain microorganisms that enable them to break down when in contact with nature. Compostable packaging generally consists of starch-type materials that naturally decompose in a composting system.
If you are a business, make sure to use such packaging in your everyday operations. Look for the Australasian Recycling Label, Composable Seedling Logo and Home Compostable Logo to make sure you’re on the right track.
2. Use Reusable Grocery Bags and Food Containers
The most common and accessible way to be eco friendly, but often overlooked, is to utilise reusable bags at the grocery store. They are available everywhere now, so there’s no excuse! Take it a step further and use reusable or recyclable containers for food storage. This helps to decrease the amount of single use plastics that are hugely disposed into landfill, which take YEARS to completely break down. Single-use items, be gone!
3. Turn It Off
Leaving your appliances and electronics on standby consumes lots of energy and leaves a mark on the environment. Make sure to switch off the light when you leave a room, or completely unplug once you are done using your devices.
4. Try Composting
Sometimes, it is difficult to reduce your food waste. If you have leftover food that can no longer be consumed, don’t put it in your normal bin, but create a separate composting bin. Doing this will create a natural fertiliser that can enrich your garden AND reduce the amount of waste going into landfill, thus reducing the amount of methane gas created in the atmosphere. Some city councils, like Casey (VIC) and Brisbane are offering residents rebates for composting. However, make sure to include the correct items in your compost bin – check out the below link from the Sydney Inner West local council on what can and cannot be composted.
5. Correct Recycling
A handy tip from Clean Up Australia is to get familiar with what and how to place items in your kerbside bins. Local councils’ websites specify which items can be disposed of in these bins, and most bins dictate this as well. Make sure to rinse containers, flatten cardboard, don’t squash bottles and cans, and make sure no plastic at all gets thrown in your recycling bin. Check out the below link for more information.
Find more information in the links below:
About Clean Up Australia: https://www.cleanup.org.au/about-us
Recycling – Clean Up Australia: https://www.cleanup.org.au/recycle
What Can Go Into Your Compost and How to Effectively Compost: https://www.innerwest.nsw.gov.au/live/waste-and-recycling/zero-waste/food-waste/composting-and-worm-farming/composting
Casey City Council Rebate Program: https://www.casey.vic.gov.au/apply-rebate-your-compost-bin
For great eco-living tips: https://www.goodenergy.co.uk/blog/2017/08/22/ultimate-guide-eco-friendly-living/