We asked passionate environmentalist Chris Harold if he’d like to write a regular column for the website. And he certainly got the ball rolling in style with a thought-provoking first piece...
Plastic Free Living
Many of you may have encountered the term ‘Plastic Free July’ recently, so I thought it would be appropriate to discuss ways we can all reduce our plastic waste.
This topic has gained a great deal of publicity in Australia recently following the ABC’s fantastic ‘War on Waste’ (you can still watch this on ABC iview), as well as cries for social change from influential personalities such as “The Project’s” Waleed Aly.
The ‘Plastic Free July’ campaign was aimed at getting people to reduce their plastic waste by making small changes in their day-to-day activities.
On a personal level, I was inspired to do more after witnessing first-hand the horrendous pollution of the ocean during my off-season trip to Borneo in Malaysia.
Now, my girlfriend and I barely consume any plastic products and only produce one small bag of general waste a week.
The rest is either consumed, recycled, or composted.
After reading and watching plenty of related material, I have chosen three easy ways in which everyone can reduce their plastic waste, while also saving money.
Because being environmentally conscious can be economical as well as fun.
The 3 Steps
1 - Refuse single-use plastic bags and use a reusable shopping bag
2 - Have your morning coffee from your reusable takeaway KeepCup
3 - Always stay hydrated with a reusable water bottle
Get into the habit of using reusable shopping bags
It sounds annoying, but once you make this part of your shopping routine, it will actually cause you zero inconvenience.
An estimated 3.76 billion plastic bags make their way to landfill every year in Australia alone, with an average of 10 million bags being consumed every single day!
In order to avoid contributing to this frightening statistic, I always keep a reusable shopping bag in my car in case I make an impromptu visit to the grocer and always take four reusable bags on my weekly shop.
There have been petitions and vocal outcries for the banning of single-use plastic all over Australia and major progress was made recently when Woolworths and Coles both announced that they would phase out single-use plastic bags within the next year.
Whether this actually comes to fruition remains to be seen, but it’s a massive step forward nonetheless.
So, as the use of reusable shopping bags will eventually become the norm, why not start now?
An estimated eight million tonnes of plastic is added to our oceans every year.
This is detrimental not only to marine life which can swallow and die from plastic ingestion, but also to you as a consumer.
Plastic, over years and years, breaks down in to micro plastics, which are ingested by all kinds of marine life, much of which is sold to consumers and subsequently eaten.
The harmful effect of plastics is also felt on land by accumulating landfill which sends high levels of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.
If the majority of our country’s population refused to use single-use plastic bags, our contribution to global warming and other environmental problems would reduce massively.
What an easy way to make a difference!
Get your caffeine boost in a sustainable KeepCup
Being the resident team coffee snob, this particular topic hits close to home.
As I take my coffee maybe a little too seriously, I tend to sit in at cafes to sip on my piccolo. There is, however, a large percentage of the population who don’t enjoy that luxury and therefore grab their coffee on the run, resulting in approximately three billion cups being used in Australia each year.
Unfortunately, despite appearing as if they are recyclable, most takeaway coffee cups are in fact not.
This contributes vast quantities to landfill unnecessarily even if people throw them in the recycling bin.
The growing popularity of reusable coffee cups is a terrific initiative that even cafes themselves are jumping on board with.
If you look, you will find many cafes giving discounts to customers who bring their own KeepCups.
Even if it is only 30 cents off your morning brew, you will make the cost of the cup back up in no time while massively reducing your personal waste footprint.
So it’s a classic win-win.
Stay hydrated by purchasing a reusable water bottle
This is something that the lads made fun of me about when I first bought my reusable bottle into training.
Now I take mine everywhere and no one says a word!
As we live in such a wealthy country and have constant access to fresh, clean water, the use of plastic water bottles is highly unnecessary considering the detriment they cause to the environment.
Yes, plastic bottles can be recycled, but many are not recycled properly and end up in landfill. Also, why waste energy consumption on recycling them if you can just sip from your insulated water bottle that keeps your water cool even in the middle of summer?
A valuable tip to remember when you are recycling plastic bottles of any kind is to remove and separate the lid.
A bottle with the lid on cannot be recycled and will be end up in landfill.
Bottled water is not cheap when purchased regularly, so switching to a reusable bottle is also a smart investment.
Thanks for reading!
If you have managed to read this far, I applaud you, as I know many people find this topic boring.
But I think it is of vital importance to make everyone feel as if we are contributing to a solution.
In the long run, small changes such as the ones I have discussed will make life better and more affordable.
So join me in the plastic-free revolution!