You’re already kicking goals for sustainability by eating a plant-based diet - yay! - but what more can you do to help reduce your impact on the environment? Here’s five easy swaps you can make in your day-to-day which will go a long way to creating a kinder, greener world.
The benefits of eating a plant-based diet knows no limits - both for our bodies and for the planet (reducing water and land use, lowering pollution, slowing deforestation and reducing destruction of topsoil, to name just a few!).
While embracing plant-based goes a long way to giving back to the environment, lately you’ve been thinking, what more can I do? What other aspects of my life can I change in order to live a kinder, more conscious, more sustainable lifestyle?
Wallowing in waste
Perhaps it’s no surprise, but we Aussies are responsible for a lot of waste. According to the latest National Waste Report, we produce approximately 67 million tonnes of waste each year. That’s equivalent to 10kg of waste per person every week and 540kg of household waste per person every year! Eep.
And where does all this waste end up?
A lot of it goes straight into landfill if no viable market accepts our recycled materials, creating methane-rich greenhouse gases as it decomposes (if it decomposes that is), while huge amounts of plastic waste ends up polluting our waterways.
You don’t have to be a scientist to know that an abundance of waste creates climate change, wildlife and public health risks.
But I recycle!
It’s concerning to learn that only around 37% of our waste actually gets recycled.
And with such a wide variety of different plastic, glass and other materials going into our household recycling bins, the recycling process can be extremely time-consuming and costly.
This means unfortunately a significant amount of material sent for recycling isn’t actually recycled, and instead ends up in landfill.
Experts also argue that due to the resources and large amounts of energy required to manage and process waste, this entire recycling process is negligible in terms of reducing our carbon footprint.
So where do we go from here?
You may have heard of the zero-waste movement.
A growing number of people around the world are embracing a zero-waste, modern minimalist lifestyle, reducing their trash to save time, money and the planet.
The basis of the zero-waste lifestyle begins with putting the 5 pillars of waste management into play in your everyday:
Refuse – what you don’t need and think before accepting things into your home.
Reduce – what you do need.
Reuse – by using what you already have.
Recycle – what you can.
Rot – the rest!
With just a few adjustments to your life, using the 5 R’s of waste management as a guide, you will quickly find that living in a more eco-conscious way is not only achievable but will also benefit both the environment and your bank account.
6 Swaps for Zero-Waste
To help get you started on your zero-waste journey, here’s five simple, inexpensive swaps you can make in your life today.
#1 Get into composting
Huge amounts of food scraps are binned across the country everyday. As these scraps anaerobically rot in landfill, they release greenhouse gases in the form of methane. In fact, roughly 3% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions are produced from rotting organic matter.
How can you help combat this issue? You can set up your own household composting system. Composting speeds up decomposition of organic materials in a controlled environment, and the results can be used at home as fertiliser for potted plants, trees, shrubs and in your herb and vegetable garden.
We recommend starting off with the hassle-free, all-inclusive Urban Composter Starter Kit from Flora and Fauna. Easy done!
#2 Change to a menstrual cup
Disposable menstruation products create a lot of waste. The average woman uses and disposes of anywhere between 11,000 to 16,000 products in her lifetime, at a total cost of around $10,000.
So, why not choose something way more environmentally friendly, like a medical grade menstrual cup? These little beauties last for up to 10 years, and saves well over 2000 tampons or pads from ending up in landfill.
They’re easy to use and ideal for swimming, running, cycling and just getting about in your everyday life.
We recommend giving this medical-grade silicone cup from Conni at try.
Or you could give period underpants a try, with a growing number of brands offering organic, sustainable options.
#3 Wrap it in reusable cloth
The average household goes through 25 rolls of plastic wrap every year - and ultimately it all goes to landfill.
An easy swap to avoid this is to replace all plastic cling wrap at your place with reusable vegan food wraps. They’re perfect for wrapping sandwiches, storing vegetables and covering food bowls in the fridge. They can even double as small snack pockets to bag sandwiches or any small dried foods like nuts, dried fruit and biscuits.
We love these cute bee print vegan food wraps from Flora and Fauna:
You can also invest in a collection of reusable silicone bags from Stasher - our owner Heaven Leigh is obsessed with them. They’re non-toxic and super easy to clean (hello, dishwasher!).
#4 Brush with bamboo
More than 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown out each year - and they will never biodegrade.
Switch out your plastic toothbrush for a sustainable bamboo toothbrush, which are both biodegradable and compostable. This is possibly the easiest, quickest swap you can do as you work towards zero-waste!
There are a number of bamboo brushes on the market. We like local Aussie brand Bambiki, which specialises in making sustainably sourced, natural bamboo toothbrushes.
#5 Make your own cleaning products
Every year, thousands of plastic cleaning bottles end up in the landfill. Yes, this includes the refill bottles for your handwash and surface spray!
Eliminate plastic cleaning bottles from your life by investing in environmentally-friendly, reusable amber glass bottles.
You can go one step further for the planet, and your health, and make your own range of chemical-free cleaning products at home. It’s super simple to do, using a range of products you likely already have at home.
Take a look at our how-to guide including recipes for chemical-free multi-purpose spray and handwash.
#6 Don't sweat your deoderant
Do your body and the environment a favour: ditch chemical-laden, mass-produced, hormone-interupting deoderants wrapped in non-recycleable packaging, and opt for a zero-waste deoderant.
There are plenty of great plastic-free, natural deoderant options available on the market which are just as effective in minimising sweat as the traditional alternatives.
We love Aussie-made ASÚVI's range of vegan-friendly deoderants made from activated charcoal and clay, plant extract-based fragrances and natural minerals, and come in a cute reusable tube with biodegradable refills.