Photo: Ben White Photography, Unsplash
The environmental impacts of the way we live is at a point of irreversible damage. Decades of plastic use has caused devastating impacts on our environment, especially our marine life. Thanks to environmental groups and documentaries like “A Plastic Ocean” and the ABC “War on Waste”series being released to educate us on this man made disaster, we are starting to take note and begin to make the changes needed to protect our planet and our health.
The team at Activate Personal Training are passionate about living a waste free, clean and green lifestyle, and educating others on how to as well. Here are five ways that you and your family can help protect our planet and future generations:
1. Switch over to natural cleaning products and ditch the harmful chemicals
Common cleaning products such as bleach and window spray are highly toxic and have detrimental impacts on our health and environment. Indoor air pollution is one of top five highest-ranking environmental health problems, with chemical levels up to 70 times higher than outside. Much of this exposure comes from the things we use in everyday life, such as common cleaning products.
These products also contain endocrine disrupters such as phthalates, a fragrance used in perfumes, beauty products, cleaning products and laundry powder. Synthetic chemicals in products like plastics, fragrances and cleaning products can mimic hormones and interfere with or disrupt the delicate endocrine system. We are exposed to these chemicals daily, and we’re especially vulnerable during phases of accelerated development - in utero and throughout childhood. When a hormone-disrupting chemical gets in the way during these windows, it can change the ways these developmental processes happen. The change is often irreversible.
The great news is that companies such as Norwex allow you to completely remove these dangerous products from your home. Their microfibre offers a powerful clean with nothing but water, and their household cleaning products use enzymes for their incredible cleaning power, instead of harsh chemicals like chlorine, ammonia and phosphates.
2. Purchase a keep cup and good quality water bottle
Photo: Domenico Loia on Unsplash
As seen on ABC’s “War On Waste” three part series, single use takeaway coffee cups are a huge issue in Australia. They calculated that approximately 113 cups are used in Australia every 4 seconds! Contrary to popular belief, they are not recycled. This is due to the plastic film lining each takeaway coffee cup. Many end up in the ocean where they break up into tiny pieces that are then consumed by marine life who mistake it for food. Now it is is in our food chain as humans then consume the fish that eat this plastic.
Since the airing of the ABC’s “War on Waste” series, the response has been so positive, and has everyone talking about our issue with waste. One of the great outcomes has been the very popular campaign, “BYO Coffee Cup”. Participating cafes display the sign in their stores to encourage customers to bring their own coffee cup for a discount of 50 cents to $1 off their coffee. You don’t even have to have a fancy keep cup with lid. I take my mug from the studio!
Stores such as Biome have beautiful glass keep cups. These make great practical gifts! If you do find yourself at a café without your own keep cup (I also keep one in my car), take the time to to sit down and enjoy your brew out of a glass or mug. It's much more pleasant than drinking out of a plastic lined, single use cup with a plastic lid, anyway!
3. Swap plastic bags for a pull along trolley and reusable shopping bags
Australians use around 4 billion plastic bags every year (a whopping 10 million or so each day!) Clean Up Australia estimates that around 150 million of these end up in our waterways and ocean. This plastic pollution is killing our marine life. 30% of the world’s turtles and 90% of seabird species have now ingested plastic debris.
Thanks to a large number of campaigns, the Queensland government has made the decision to ban single use plastic bags as of July 2018. You can stop using single use plastic now though. It is easy to carry fold up reusable shopping bags in your handbag, car and store a couple in your drawer at work. Trolley bags are also a fantastic investment for your weekend farmers market and grocery store visits. It is much easier wheeling a trolley load of food around then a bunch of bags, too! I picked one up from my local Mitre 10 hardware store for $30. You can also purchase small cotton bags for holding your produce from shops such as Biome or online from Nourished Life, instead of using the small plastic bags.
Next time you are at your local supermarket, think about whether you actually need to place everything in separate plastic bags and avoid produce which is unnecessarily wrapped in plastic packaging. Nourished Life have a fantastic pack called the “Low Tox Life Reusable Must Haves” which contains a coffee flask, organic cotton shopping bag, produce bags 5 pack, bamboo straws 4 pack, food wraps starter set 2 pack.
Any soft plastic waste you have can now be recycled through the REDcycle Program at your local supermarket. These large red wheely bins are usually placed at the end of supermarket checkouts and accept any “scrunchable” plastics such as bread bags, biscuit packet wrappers, paper goods packaging, pasta and rice bags, frozen food and veggie bags, confectionery bags, plastic bags, old green bags, cereal box liners.
4. Reduce packaging and support local – shop at your local farmers markets
It's so refreshing visiting my local organic farmers market every Sunday. Fresh vegetable and fruit is displayed in large bins and in boxes on tables, covered in soil and sold with love straight from the farmer. These friendly people are up as early as 1am, to make the trip from their farm to the city to sell straight to their customers.
There's absolutely no need for food to be wrapped in plastic, and no need for us to buy food out of season from the supermarket which has traveled from the other side of world (which also equals more carbon emissions). Eating fresh food which is in season, in abundance, pulled from the ground/trees the day before you purchase it is much better for your health, supports your local farmers and economy, is free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals (organic farmers) - and just feels right! The Northey Street City Farm Organic market runs every Sunday in Windsor, Brisbane from 6am – 11am.
Reducing your consumption of animal products and eating plant based foods in abundance is also the way forward, as we learn about the destruction that animal agriculture is having on our planet. It is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, top soils erosion, and ocean “dead zones”. The Forks Over Knives recipe app is a great way to include more plant based meals in your diet, and they’re super easy and very tasty! It has the added bonus of an inbuilt shopping list so you can check off your items as you do your weekly market haul.
5. Compost your organic food waste
Photo: Kyle Ellefson on Unsplash
You can largely reduce your contribution to landfill, reduce carbon emissions and return your food scraps to the earth to enrich the soil by composting your organic waste. Compost is made by decomposing organic matter or food scraps that can then be used as a fertiliser and soil amendment.
There are some fantastic bench top mini compost bins which are odour free available from shops such as Biome. The Bokashi Urban Composter is a great product to start with (Australian family owned company), and it is small enough to fit under your sink. Even if you live in an apartment, you can still compost and use it on your outdoor plants in common areas. Worm farming is another great activity to involve you children in.
As you can see, there are many different ways that you can improve your contribution to sustainability in 2018. If you're unsure about how to get started or want to talk more about sustainable living, contact me at email@example.com. I'm always excited to talk about the planet and sustainability!