Before starting my sustainable living journey, I was a regular person, living with waste. Before you exit this blog, wait and hear me out, it's a journey, right?
It was more like oblivion. But not maliciously, just simply dealing with more pertinent issues that humans have, like, maintaining an income, Mondays, social events, work and general existence.
What I did to contribute to matters that meant something to me was, donate. Like many of us who donate regularly, it seems like a good deed and is well within our control. It made me feel like I was 'doing' something, like preventing African animal poaching or funding ocean clean-ups.
I donated because it was easy, recurring payments even better (and easy to lose track of, come to mention). But hold up, the real journey was about to begin, not by my own doing.
The forced change.
One day, in 2013, at my corporate job in Sydney, I came into work, sat down at my desk, and much to my horror, THE BINS WERE GONE! In those days, before hot desking, we each used to have a little bin next to our desk; to my disgust, it was suddenly gone! I remember it so clearly because it was such a significant change for everyone, and there was a lot of moaning. When the communications team finally concluded that it was not only a cost-cutting exercise but an initiative to promote waste sorting and recycling, I eased up a bit. The 'environment' angle sparked a backing behind my company, and I eventually got used to it.
Then the bags.
Then in 2018, supermarkets in Australia started charging for single-use shopping bags. This was, for me, an absolute game changer. I tried hard to remember to take bags, but it was hard. I would always curse when I needed to do a spur-of-the-moment 'post gym' shop and was caught without my reusable ones. I mention plastic bags because I think they have been the hardest to adopt. The straws were more manageable for me. So I started carrying around a reusable smoothie straw I ordered online from California (who were miles ahead of us) or just battled through the paper one.
It has only been about four years since that happened, and A LOT has changed. As the government forces its hand and corporations adopt the change, it limits options, and people will adapt.
So here I am today, sharing with you some of the changes I have made that might be helpful to you if you want to start or improve your sustainable living. And don't' worry, there will be more to come!
1. Buy in Bulk & Boot Pickup - This not only removes the hassle of carrying plastic bags around, but it helps with not running out of stuff that doesn't go off (e.g. pasta etc.). It reduces transport emissions from my car and forces me to plan ahead. Boot pickup has really helped me. No more overbuying or picking snack foods because they look good, and no more stress at peak busy shopping times. You can order on the same day or night before, drive up to your participating supermarket, and boom, a trolley full of your groceries arrives right at your boot! You can also select 'no bags' so if I forget them, I can just load the products into the car and sort them out at home. It does make it easier that I don't drink cow's milk anymore, but if you need to, you can grab that alone. I buy bread and daily items from the local baker and farm market.
2. Monthly Bag Stash - regardless of groceries, I have learnt to get into a routine of a monthly bag stash for my car. This can be useful for any shopping, so I keep a variety in the vehicle (soft, reusable plastic and soft cooler bag). And typically, I keep about 20 in the boot. Once it gets low, I stock up again. I keep a soft material shopping bag in my handbag, just in case I am out and need a few things.
3. Monthly Soft plastic & Recycling Haul - this has become quite fun (yes, I am a bit of a freak now for it). I have boxes in my garage and outside in the shed for soft plastics, cans & bottles and items you can't recycle like batteries. Once a month, I sort through them and load the car up for a trip to the local recycling centre, Woolworths/Coles (for soft plastics) and my local Containers4Change depot. Getting money back for the cans is fantastic. It's like winning a little lottery! The soft plastic collections also help keep a tally on how much is wrapped in plastic and spark your brain to think of alternatives.
4. Switching to Refills & Subscriptions - remember the toilet paper crisis? I vowed then that I would never be caught without it again. I found a great company that does sustainable bamboo toilet paper subscriptions (How we Roll). I have also switched to dog wash refills, hand wash refills and laundry refills that work the same as our own brand, where you can keep the empty pouches and send them back once you have a few. This way, I can do it all in one bang once a year! Easy! I never run out, which is very convenient.
5. Organizing my Beauty & Make-up - I bought draw dividers and boxes with labels for the stash of beauty items. If you read my last blog, I have a pile to get through. I divided them into usage, so when I need a new item, I check the expiry and use the oldest ones first. Can you believe I haven't bought hair care or serums for at least a year! My bank account has loved that.
So my initial forced change became my journey.
I promise you the changes are not complicated, like anything; it's just getting started that takes the most effort. But routine takes 3 months to form, so that is nothing in the grand scheme to save you time, money, and be kind to the environment.
If you have any hacks or tips to share or more you would like me to write about, give us a shout, and we will write it up in a future blog.
Also, if you have tried one, why not let me know how it went ;) Remember to like and share if you enjoyed this Blog post.