This month, Melbourne is hosting a Sustainable Living Festival with many events in the city and beyond. We have decided to get on board as well! Not that we weren't all about sustainable living before, but this month we are taking on the challenge to be a lot more mindful about what The Fair Trader team sends to landfill.
In Australia about 40% of our waste is discarded into landfill, and of that, around 60% is organic material (food scraps and garden waste). When organic waste decomposes it releases a greenhouse gas called methane. Methane is also released in high concentrations by cows. "Indeed, every time a cow burps or passes gas a little puff of methane wafts into the atmosphere" (National Geographic: Jan 23, 2019) About 20% of our planets warming can be attributed to this gas alone.
We know plastic can't be absorbed back into the environment, it doesn't break down but instead breaks apart into micro-plastic beads. Research is continuing into how this affects human health but it is known that micro-plastic beads do cause harm to sea life. They block digestive tracts and alter feeding behaviour. Most fish, aquatic bird life and turtle species have plastic within their digestive tube and as these accumulate they can cause death. As we depend on the sea for food we are also ingesting these micro beads of plastic. (National Geographic Magazine: June 2018)
How beautiful would this beach be without all the rubbish and plastic? This beach isn't a far away beach, overseas in another country. This is an Australian beach, this is our home!
Germany, Austria and South Korea have virtually eliminated their waste into landfill to 3% or less, a far cry from our 40%. The easiest way we can reduce our waste to landfill is the age-old saying to simply "reduce, reuse and recycle".
This month, we are asking you to take the challenge with us.
Below we have our top 7 ways to become more sustainable and reduce waste entering landfill. It may not seem like much, it may seem you are just one person but each one of us can make the world of difference.
1) Using reusable bags
These days there are so many great reusable bags out there and in-store we have Fair Trade reusable bags made from jute or hemp. There are produce bags to shopping bags and even stylish and beautiful baskets made in Uganda from elephant grass that would be handy for a quick shop.
If you do however forget to take produce bags, our hot little tip is to use paper mushroom bags instead of the plastic ones provided...(you are welcome ;) Or just buy the fruit and vegetables without the plastic, and pack them into a cardboard box, and Yes, I am one of 'those' people, I regularly forget my bags and just walk all my shopping back to the car in the trolly. I then transfer it into my washing basket when I get home to make it easier to take things inside.
2) Shopping at a fruit and veg shop
Even better, visit local farmers markets. Apart from supporting local and small businesses, fruit and vegetables are generally cheaper, fresher and better for the environment when bought locally. If your veges are grown locally the carbon miles are so much less.
It is estimated that carbon dioxide emissions from shipping was equal to 2.2% of the global human-made emissions back in 2012, imagine how much more that is now. Think about that, 2.2% and that is just essentially boats transporting goods from one country to another when we could buy the same product (not just fruit and veg) around the corner.
There are some amazing bulk food stores around an they are worth a visit. These stores sell package free foods, and these foods are delicious to eat! This again is another great way of supporting local and small businesses and reducing your packaging waste. Making food instead fo purchasing ready made also reduces plastic waste and is so much better for you!
The amazing bulk food stores available near us are:
- 'Apples and Sage' Wholefoods in Balwyn
- 'PanchaMama Wholefood's and Kitchen' in Brunswick
- 'Organic Wholefoods' in Brunswick
- 'Eastfield Natural Foods' is my absolute favourite! In Croydon South, and just near our Croydon store. the Staff are so helpful and the food delicious and amazing!
- The Full Pantry - 66/68 Maroondah Hwy, Croydon
- The 'Good Food Emporium' in Narrewarren is just off the Princess Hwy and full of goodies.
- The 'Wholefoods Merchants' in Ferntree Gully has an amazing cafe!
This is more relevant and simple than ever! Composting veg and food scraps can be dirty work, however, in-store, we have bio-degradable and compostable small and medium bin liners made from vegetable scraps themselves. Composting doesn't stop there, we also have compostable brushes (only available online sorry), not just for the pots and pans in the kitchen but for almost anything you can think of from brushing a beloved fur baby, to cleaning shoes. A perfect plastic-free way to help the environment that is also ethically made.
5) Try not to buy 'fast fashion'
Purchase items of clothing that are made to last, invest in your wardrobe, the future of the planet and the maker's well-being. How can a piece of clothing be made and sold for as little as $3.00? If the price point is so low there is someone along the production chain who is being harmed.
Torju is GOTS Certified clothing brand we have in-store and online that has absolutely stunning and timeless pieces! Their current collection has been inspired by the raw and rugged Victorian coast made from natural fabrics and made to last.
The plastic that stood out to me in the above picture of the Australian Coco's Island beach is all the thongs and single-use water bottles. Lucky, we have a natural rubber alternative to plastic thongs not made from plastic at all and are 50% recycled rubber and super comfy!
6) Stop using single-use plastics such as plastic wrap
There is nothing wrong with using an upside-down plate but have you tried Beeswax wraps? They are made using an organic fabric soaked in beeswax, tree resin and jojoba oil. Once cooled they become stiff and bend around containers just with the warmth of your hand. Each wrap lasts around one year and easily pays for itself.
Honeybee Wraps are an Australian owned small business made in a small town near Byron Bay. They come in many beautiful colours/patterns and sizes and we also have a DIY pack if you wanted to get creative.
Once you think they have reached the end of their life they can be put in a home compost or worm farm as they are made from all-natural ingredients.
7) Reusable coffee mugs
Melbourne is renown for avid coffee lovers but we need to remember our reusable coffee cups and mugs! Australian's throw out 2.7 million single-use disposable cups EVERY SINGLE DAY. 1 billion coffee cups every year.
Reusable coffee mugs are an easy way to stop this waste heading to landfill.
Our Robert Gordon ceramic reusable cups are absolutely stunning!
These cups are made close by in Pakenham, and glazed-to-order. They come in a variety of beautiful pastel colours and patterns that are minimalist and stunning. The only risk is that your coffee addiction may increase when you want to show off your cool cup! You will want to use it all the time (we hope!).
I am going back to the basics, will you join me? Doesn't seem so hard right...
Needing a little more inspiration? Watch the below youtube video from Lauren Singer about how and why she lives a zero waste life.
"Doing a little something is better than doing a lot of nothing"