Like many Australians, last year I watched the ABC’s War on Waste program, hosted by Craig Reucassel. What an eye-opening, horrifying, depressing reality! Australians have become some of the worst wasters in the world. We use and abuse our resources like there’s no tomorrow.
Since then, I’ve done reading, researching, and felt my anger rise at how we are treating our planet. As a Christian, I feel I am responsible to be a good steward of the world around me, a gift from God. As such, I have inadvertently become an environmentalist.
This burning desire to do something, anything, about the terrible waste I was creating on a daily basis inspired me to join the Plastic-Free July movement. This movement challenges everyday people to “choose to refuse” single use plastics such as straws, coffee cups, and plastic bags.
Since taking part in this challenge, I have again become aware of our culture’s excessive use of plastics. What makes it worse is the difficulty of finding alternatives. Here are some of the things that have frustrated me most.
Onions make me cry
You are probably familiar with the way onions are packaged. Those red net bags that divide up our onions in neat, 2-kg packs are found in Coles and Woollies. A few weeks ago on my weekly trip to the supermarket, it suddenly occurred to me that such plastic netting is a disaster to marine life.
It is true that you can buy your onions loose, no problems. But here’s the catch: loose onions can be up to $1.40/kg more expensive. None of our onions need to be in red netting. We can easily get ourselves a reusable “onion bag” and buy loose ones. But the price comparison is one more hurdle to overcome.
Disposable nappies are brilliant for parents. They are easy to use, hold lots of moisture, and are easy to get rid of. Sounds good, right? Well, they may be easy to get out of our house but that doesn’t mean they are easy on the planet. Disposable nappies are one of the worst contributors to our landfill issue.
Michelle Lee in an article in Australian Science claimed that any disposable nappy you throw out this year will still be alive and kicking in the year 2514. It’s enough to make any mum feel guilty.
We’ve chosen to use cloth nappies for these very reasons. Turns out they are not as bad as their olden-day counterparts, and require only a little extra effort on the parents’ part. Plus, they’re supposed to make it easier to toilet-train your child. That’s got to be a bonus.
Reusable plastic bags
This one is particularly interesting in the wake of the bans the big supermarkets have self-imposed in NSW. Coming from Tasmania, where single use lightweight plastic bags have been out of the picture since 2011, it is amusing to see the chaos around this topic. I’d forgotten what those grey plastic bags even looked like until I was on holiday in NSW this year!
Despite what people may say, it actually isn’t that hard to get into the habit of bringing your own bags. The trick is to keep them in your glove box, your handbag, and a few stashed at home. One word of caution: forget those suspicious thick plastic bags that the crafty supermarkets are now selling. You may as well go whole hog and get yourself some nice sturdy calico reusable bags.
Once you’ve committed to non-plastic bags for life, the worst that can happen is you have to duck back to the car if you forget to bring them into the supermarket. Or if you are doing an unexpected shopping trip for something essential, the limit of what your hands can hold might even prevent an impulse buy. You can’t buy stuff you can’t carry!
Action is the key
If you spend much time looking into the state of waste in our nation, you will be absolutely staggered by the epic proportion of the figures. It’s easy to dismiss your contribution as ineffective. Resist that urge!
Consider what actions you can take to reduce your consumption of all harmful substances that wreak havoc on our environment. Start small, choose to refuse, and make a difference.
Lee M (2014-01-28 00:15:43). Disposable Nappies: Are They Stinking Up Our Planet? . Australian Science. Retrieved: Jul 19, 2018, from http://www.australianscience.com.au/environmental-science/disposable-nappies-are-they-stinking-up-our-planet
Lucinda is a housewife passionate about baking, following Jesus, and waste-free living. She spends her time running around after a toddler, running a Girls’ Brigade company, and homemaking. Lucinda’s previous articles can be viewed at: https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/lucinda-glover.html
Lucinda is a mum to two little girls. She loves baking, reading, and sewing.