In a world where companies and clever advertisers do their best to control what we buy and use, it’s becoming more and more difficult to live sustainably.
In every day advertising and in supermarkets in general, we’re told to buy an abundance of single-use products and packages which eventually end up in landfill or in the ocean, which is undeniably unkind to the earth, and also to ourselves.
So, what exactly can we do to ensure that we follow more sustainable lifestyles, while still enjoying ourselves, and not sacrificing too much?
What is Sustainable Living?
Sustainable living is the act of reducing the amount of waste we create, and the amount of strain that we put on the climate, by swapping out unsustainable products and actions for sustainable ones. This means rubbish recycle and rubbish reuse, limiting use of fossil fuels, buying less harmful materials, and much more.
There’s a large misconception that in order to live sustainably, you have to give up all of the things you enjoy buying and using, and live a restricted life, completely dedicated to the environment. This, of course, is not true. Anyone can live more sustainably by simply swapping out a few non-eco-friendly things for eco-friendly ones. And what’s not to like? You can save the planet, live a simpler life, and feel great about it.
So what should you be swapping out in order to live a more sustainable lifestyle? Here are 10 easy swaps that anyone can do in order to create less waste.
1: Bottled Cosmetic Products – Solids and Refills
If you’re like most people, you probably buy shampoo, shower gel, conditioner and many similar products in hard plastic bottles from the supermarket. This type of plastic is especially harmful to the environment, and it’s also unlikely to get recycled. The solution? Find a zero-waste store (there are plenty around) that sells refills. All you need to do is bring your own used containers and fill them up.
Another great alternative to bottled cosmetics is solid shampoos, conditioners and soap bars. You can buy these in several stores, and most are also completely vegan and cruelty-free.
2: Plastic Water Bottles – Reusable Water Bottles
This sounds like a pretty obvious one, but many people still buy bottled water from shops instead of just using a reusable bottle or flask. This is almost completely unnecessary, as you’ll find that the water in your tap is completely drinkable and clean. It can be hard to get into the habit of taking your own water bottle out with you, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll feel great.
3: Plastic Shopping Bags – Earth Friendly Shopping Bags
Since plastic shopping bags normally can’t be recycled, they make up a lot of the world’s plastic waste, even though they’re completely replaceable. This causes a bit of a dilemma, because unfortunately, people still need something to carry their shopping in. The good thing is, that in Australia we’ve already introduced measures at the stores where single-use shopping bags are no longer allowed. And there are actually large fines for retailers who still use them.
Many people believe the natural solution would be to buy reusable cotton tote bags that you see for sale in the supermarket. Actually, although they don’t contain any plastic, most cotton tote bags have a much greater carbon footprint than that of a plastic bag, due to the factories in which they are made, and the transport that it takes for them to be moved from poorer countries, and onto our supermarket shelves. A study from the UK Environment Agency even suggests that one cotton tote bag has the same footprint as about 131 plastic bags.
So what can you do? Re-use your shopping bags that you get at the supermarket. It’s that simple. Or you can always get your imagination working and make your own shopping bags out of old clothes that you don’t use anymore.
4: Tampons and Pads – Reusable Cloths and Menstrual Cups
Since tampons and pads are only single-use sanitary items, they have a rather large carbon footprint, and often can’t be biodegraded. Aside from this, they can also be pretty expensive, and those prices really add up.
A great alternative to single-use sanitary products is reusable cloths. They can be washed and reused, and you’ll never have to buy pads and tampons again. You may also want to try menstrual cups, which are a keen favourite of many women living sustainably.
5: Plastic Toothbrushes – Bamboo Toothbrushes
Like other hard plastic products, toothbrushes are very bad for the environment, and can’t even be traditionally recycled. These can be easily swapped out for bamboo toothbrushes, which are not only durable, but they’re also completely biodegradable, meaning they’ll go back into the earth one day.
6: Packaged Food – Unpackaged Food
It can be quite tricky to buy unpackaged food in the supermarket, as almost everything seems to come in unnecessary plastic packaging. That being said, a lot of healthier foods come without plastic, and there’s almost always a plastic-free alternative to the food you’re buying. For example, you’ll often find bags of onions wrapped in plastic, exactly next to loose onions. If this is the case, always try to go for the unpackaged version.
7: Disposable Coffee Cups – Travel Mugs
If you’re a person that likes to always grab a coffee somewhere on your way to work, you could be causing unnecessary harm to the planet by buying too many single-use coffee cups. Try upgrading to a reusable travel mug, which you can take with you to the coffee shop, and ask for it to be filled up.
8: Doggy Bags – Bring your own Tupperware
Nobody likes to leave unfinished food in restaurants, and so bringing a doggy bag home with you seems like a reasonable solution. But of course, all that plastic creates more waste, which is the opposite of what you want. Bringing your own Tupperware to a restaurant with you means that you’ll never have to feel guilty about taking a doggy bag home.
9: Plastic Straws – Reusable or Paper Straws
Since seeing distressing images of sea creatures being injured and harmed by plastic straws, many people have switched to reusable alternatives. Some popular products are metal or glass straws, however you may also want to try single-use paper straws.
10: Plastic Cutlery – Reusable Cutlery
Instead of buying heaps of harmful plastic cutlery to eat with, try using the metal or wooden cutlery that you have at home. This seems like a pretty obvious one, but if you go for picnics or eat ready meals at work a lot, there’s a chance that you might resort to using plastic knives and forks. Try your best to remember to bring your own cutlery from home next time, and you’ll be well on your way to living sustainably.
Rubbish recycle and rubbish reuse is imperative if we want to take care of our planet. Do what you can to help and the future of the world will go a long way!
Let Cheapest Load of Rubbish Help
The team at Cheapest Load of Rubbish are strong believers in sustainable living and recycling. That’s why we take care to recycle wherever possible. Our team are dedicated to helping Sydneysiders live sustainably while removing all of your rubbish quickly and efficiently, taking the time to hand sort all of the rubbish we collect to dispose of your rubbish as responsibly as possible.