Thursday, 8 January 2015

The culture of waste

Can we all stop throwing so much "rubbish" away?
refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot 
I ended up buying my lunch multiple times per week last year and it is quite staggering how quickly food packaging adds up. Reusable containers with lunch made at home is cheaper and more environmentally friendly. One of my personal goals is to improve my ecological footprint.

Since moving to Sydney I've really started to notice the problem. Apparently Australia is the second highest producer of waste (following the USA) per person - more than half a ton per person per year[1][2]. About half of the rubbish that ends up in landfill comes from households.

One of the most widely known issues is the reliance on plastic. All things plastic, from shopping bags to utensils, are made from non-renewable natural resources. To add insult to injury the processes that turn the raw crude oil and coal into plastic emits greenhouse gasses. Plastic degrades slowly, estimates vary from 20 years to 1000. An easy way to help is taking reusable bags to the supermarket (or farmers' market)[3], the plastic shopping bag symbolises all that is wrong with today's throw-away consumer society.
Australians use 3.92 billion plastic bags a year, that's over 10 million new bags being used every day.


Something like two thirds of our household waste can be composted. Urban gardening is a great use for compost and gives you nice fresh vegetables and herbs!

There are people taking this to the logical extreme - zero waste living. Check these websites out for inspiration:
  • zerowastehome.com - The blog/site of a family living waste-free since 2008. Worth reading through their tips.
  • trashisfortossers.com
This is a fairly hot topic, the guardian has a whole section devoted to waste. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/waste

[1] http://www.transpacific.com.au/asset/cms/Documents/Australian%20Waste%20-%20The%20Facts.pdf
[2] http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/1370.0~2010~Chapter~Waste%20per%20person%20(6.6.3)
[3] http://www.cleanup.org.au/PDF/au/cua_plastic_bags_fact_sheet.pdf