Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.
– The Lorax
After writing this blog for several months, I recognise my often pessimistic view of the state of the world, how we treat others and our environment. There are however, some really inspirational actions people and organisations are taking. This post celebrates some of the great waste reducing initiatives I’ve heard about.
Fabulous Family Members
Motivated by keeping our oceans clean and alarmed by research showing the devastating impact plastic and other debris are having on aquatic life (e.g. researchers have found up to 234 particles of plastic in a litre of melted Arctic Sea ice), my Sydney-based brother recently announced “I’m banning plastic bags from our house”. Fantastic! They have already been taking reusable shopping bags to the supermarket for a while. Now they are ensuring they don’t use plastic bags for buying fruit and vegetables. Avid recyclers and worm farm owners, they have also switched to using bio-bags for their landfill bound rubbish. Go bro!
In response to my last blog about how much plastic I’d managed to accumulate over a 19-day period, an Edinburgh-based friend (AKA Handmaiden) told me she’d recently switched to buying mushrooms in paper bags instead of plastic containers. As they buy a pack of mushrooms a week, this will save 52 plastic boxes a year. It’s amazing how every little bit adds up. I always thought that mushrooms keep longer in paper bags than in plastic because they have to breathe… there seems to be some agreement on the internet about this too. So this also helps our plastic-free cause too!
An inspiring London-based household which includes a couple, their baby and two dogs have set out on a zero waste pursuit. Their weekly blog, the waste less weeks shares their journey to reducing their household waste and their accompanying lifestyle. Five weeks into their project, they have switched to using baby bamboo toothbrushes, baking instead of buying packaged treats, making beeswax wraps to use instead of clingfilm, hair dying with henna (i.e. minus ammonia and bleach found in other hair dyes) and clearing out much unnecessary “stuff” ahead of moving house. They also dare to admit they are not always perfect and pizza and chocolate biscuits (Hobnobs) have been bought (creating packaging waste)… highlighting that striving to be wasteless is challenging and people are not always perfect, despite their best intentions! Check out the waste less weeks here or follow on instagram.
These savvy New Zealand students don’t like the way plastic straws are cluttering waterways and playgrounds. They have banned them from their school, but are also trying to get local restaurants, cafes and community members on board to stop using plastic straws. They encourage people to say “No!” to straws or use reusable alternatives. They have even made a short-film about it, which features on the Outlook for Someday website: Plastic Straw Free Rangiora.
A year ago I worked at an engineering consulting company with an office of around 120 staff in Edinburgh. Waste was a hot topic that people easily connected with, so our office Sustainability Team developed several initiatives to minimise our office waste:
- We were churning through an astronomical number of single-use plastic cups, so we controversially removed them from office watercoolers (people are encouraged to bring their own vessels).
- Instead of buying many 300mL milk cartons (for tea and coffee), we switched to buying fewer 1L milk cartons, cutting down on the overall packaging used.
- We introduced food waste recycling, diverting food scraps from landfill and sending them to be processed at a local biofuel centre.
In the last year, I’ve been informed that the hard work has continued and they are currently running a project aimed at further reducing single-use plastic. Great work!
As you can see, there’s a lot of positive waste reducing actions happening, which may seem small, but can all make a difference. Could you apply one of these examples in your home, school or workplace? I’d love to hear about other ways people or organisations are committing to reducing waste, particularly plastic waste.