Winning The War On Waste At Home

The amount of waste sent to landfill has always been a concern to me. 

The first significant change for our household was when we started recycling our food waste via the green organics bin. However, after watching the first series of the ABC TV’s War on Waste we focussed our attention on reducing, reusing and recycling plastics, in particular reducing single use plastics. We have more plastic in the world than we can deal with. Even if a plastic item can be recycled, it doesn’t mean we can use as much as we want. Energy and valuable resources went into its production and to dispose of plastic items after a single use is crazy. If it ends up in the wrong place it takes hundreds of years to breakdown, or worse, pollutes our waterways and oceans. 

Tips on winning the war on waste

  • “Waking up to waste” is an important first step in awareness. Take more notice of what you are buying, how you are buying it, and whether you are putting things in the right bin
  • Make full use of a kitchen caddy, compostable food scrap bags, and your green organics bin.  For us this has been the easiest change to make and has had the biggest impact on landfill waste. 
  • Motivate and educate yourself on why we need to avoid, reduce and reuse. 
    • Follow Ecolateral online and read the blog
    • Connect with groups like Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Radelaide and Zero Waste Adelaide on Facebook
    • If in doubt whether an item is recyclable check out the SA Government’s Which Bin search tool. Remember that recycling rules may vary from district to district but this tools provides a goodd general guide. 
    • Take a tour of your local recycling facility and landfill site. In Adelaide KESAB offers tours of Wingfield and the mountains of landfill are eye opening. 
    • I can’t recommend enough the value of watching Seasons 1 & 2 of ABC TVs War on Waste and visit their iView page to watch the Extras videos.
    • Follow someone blogging their waste journey

It is important to remember that what works for one household may not work for another. We all have different budgets, time constraints, resources, levels of energy etc. So don’t judge others or feel like you’re not doing enough yourself.

 

 

Guest blogger Karen Murphy writes about living more sustainably and reducing waste in the home Karen Murphy is committed to winning the war on waste. She is a moderator of Adelaide’s own Facebook group Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Radelaide and regularly writes about reducing waste in the home and how to live more sustainably. She has generously shared her knowledge here as a guest writer. 

 

How Reducing Food Waste Is Good For Your Waistline

When it comes to watching your waistline watching your household waste could be the perfect place to start.  Reducing food waste can mean better health outcomes for you and your family, not to mention the planet. There is definitely a relationship between healthy eating habits and the amount of waste we produce.  So for my family we like to eat lots of fresh fruit and veggies, make most of our own meals and snacks, minimise processed and takeaway foods, and avoid bottled drinks. This helps us keep our waste to a minimum.

By shopping as close as possible to the source of the food we eat we support local (and often, small) businesses. It is easier to minimise or avoid pre-packed items and use your own bags or containers.

What you can do:

  • Start using reusable mesh or compostable bags for all your fruit and vegetable purchases and try to cut down on pre-packaged items whether they be in soft or hard plastic. Those on polystyrene trays should be avoided as they must go to landfill.
  • Commit to reducing your meat and dairy consumption by one to two meals per week. Some of the environmental effects that have been associated with meat production are pollution through fossil fuel usage, animal methane, effluent waste, and water and land consumption. The 2019 IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found that industrial agriculture and overfishing are the primary drivers of the extinction crisis, with the meat and dairy industries having a substantial impact.
  • If you do eat meat shop at a local butcher and ask for your purchases in compostable snaplock bags (you may need to provide your own roll) or BYO containers. Avoiding pre-packed meat will make a big difference to your plastic and smelly landfill waste.  A compostable bag goes straight into your benchtop kitchen caddy and can also be used to contain any bones or trimmings before going into your green organics bin.
  • Search for ‘Bulk Food Shops <your city>, find your local and start shopping. Switch food items that you currently purchase packaged, e.g. nuts, dried fruit, grains, seeds, to buying using BYO containers, bulk food bags, fabric or paper bags and store in repurposed jars.
  • Try to avoid products containing individually packaged items. Where packaging can’t be avoided, purchase the greatest amount that you will use before the expiry date, look at a more concentrated version (that will last longer) or try using less.
  • Purchase a water filter to eliminate the need for bottled water and flavour sparkling water with natural juices like lemon and lime.
Guest blogger Karen Murphy writes about living more sustainably and reducing waste in the home Karen Murphy is committed to winning the war on waste. She is a moderator of Adelaide’s own Facebook group Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Radelaide and regularly writes about reducing waste in the home and how to live more sustainably. She has generously shared her knowledge here as a guest writer. 

How to Have a Sustainable Holiday Season

The end of year holiday season has the potential to be one of the most unsustainable periods of the year for households. Guest blogger Karen Murphy shares some of her best ideas for ensuring you can reduce food waste and have your most sustainable holiday season yet.  

In our household we celebrate Christmas and we love to fill the holiday season with thoughtful, sustainably sourced & ethical gifts, delicious food and memory making. We make it a point to say no to all of the plastic and landfill waste that fills many bins at this time of year.

Here are my TOP 22 ideas for having a sustainable holiday season

  1. I love the giving of experiences and there’s something around town for everyone: beauty treatments for mums; theatre tickets; virtual reality session at Untethered VR; Tree Climb; or a Luxury/Gold Class cinema experience. The list of possible experiences if you take the time to brainstorm.
  2. When it comes to physical gifts, head to a Christmas market or look on-line to find local shopping options (in South Australia check out the Shopping in SA page on the SouthAustralia.com website) and support a local producer with your purchases.
  3. Ecolateral Stores (click for locations) have a wide range of zero waste and fair trade gifts like coffee cups for on the go, stylish drink bottles, lunch wraps or grab some reusable silicone straws and recycled paper pencils for kid’s stockings.
  4. If you don’t have time to head out to the shops then consider giving an electronic gift voucher. Most stores now have that option. You can find Ecolateral’s gift vouchers here, with the added bonus that vouchers can either be emailed electronically or printed on recycled paper. image of three gifts wrapped in linen cloth in the style of furoshiki
  5. Look for gifts with minimal packaging and add rechargeable batteries and charger if batteries are required.
  6. Get creative when wrapping, using things like a tea towel, scarf, pillowcase, reusable bags, Furoshiki wrap, or MYO (Make Your Own) fabric bags. You could even MYO tshirt bags like this YouTuber did (just use a recycled tshirt rather than buying a new one!)
  7. MYO treats or purchase from bulk food stores and reuse a jar. You’ll find heaps of decorating ideas on Pinterest. Alternatively you could gift your treats in a reusable stainless steel tumbler with a bow rather than cellophane.
  8. Want something different for the table this year? Fall in love with Op shopping or organise a swap meet with friends.
  9. In my family, rather than buy gifts for the adults we play a Kris Kringle game. This year the purchase has to come from an Op Shop, so I think this should generate some interesting steal opportunities and plenty of laughs!
  10. Shop bought Bon Bons would have to be one of the most wasteful Christmas purchases, with their excessive packaging and cheap plastic contents that almost always end up in landfill. This year to decorate our table I have made fabric Bon Bons and Reindeer Jars filled with bulk food treats. If you can’t sew, create a craft activity for the kids and make some covered in their artwork, the grandparents will love them. Alternatively save the paper wrappers and rolls from your Who Gives A Crap toilet paper. The Gift Edition provides bright holiday season covers and they make for easy to assemble bon bons. 
  11. Don’t let your extra food scraps go to waste, feed them to your FOGO (Food & Garden Organics) bin. Using a kitchen caddy is the easiest way and you can collect one at no cost from some Local Council office (in participating council areas).  Diverting food waste from landfill is not only the best solution for the environment but also helps with increasing landfill costs.  It is double the cost to send a bag of food waste to landfill verses the FOGO (Food Organics Garden Organics) bin.
  12. When you’re out and about during the holidays, plan your trips to minimise waste and overloading public bins. Take water and snacks, pack re-usable coffee cups, cutlery and straws and if there are no recycling or organic bins where you are, take them home to your bins so they don’t end up in landfill.

    You can also plan ahead during this period to make positive changes in the new year
  13. Pick three food items that you currently purchase packaged in plastic and switch to buying using BYO containers, fabric/paper bags.  Ecolateral has many options including Bulk Food Bags with clear windows so you can see what is in them, a Eco Shopping Starter Kit, and produce bags made from recycled drink bottles. As you get the hang of it, add to the list each month.  We now have over 25 pantry items, nuts, dried fruit, grains, seeds and more, that are purchased in this way and stored in repurposed jarrs.  You will be amazed at how many things can be purchased in this way and how easy it is.
  14. Switch to ‘refilling’ your cleaning and personal care products. Dishwashing liquid, laundry liquid/powder, bathroom and toilet cleaners, disinfectant, hand and body wash are just some of the wide range of products you can purchase re-using your own bottles and containers.  I love to fill up at Ecolateral Magill, but there are other shops around that offer refill services, you just need to seek them out.image showing racks of bulk refill products in the background and dry body brushes hanging in the foreground
  15. Avoid plastic when purchasing fruit and vegetables. Start using reusable produce bags or compostable bags for all your fruit and vegetable purchases and avoid pre-packaged items (especially those in polystyrene).
  16. Make meat shopping zero waste. Start shopping at your local butcher and ask for your purchases in compostable bags (you may need to provide your own roll) or BYO containers.  Avoiding pre-packed supermarket meat will make a big difference to your plastic and landfill waste.  A compostable bag goes straight into your kitchen caddy and can also be used to contain any bones or trimmings.
  17. Give your recycling a health check. Go online to East Waste’s whichbin.com.au and read their Recycling Tips, also taking note of the things that are not accepted.  You could add to your recycling efforts and collect something you haven’t previously, valuable aluminium and other metals for example.
  18. Start recycling something that is not collected kerbside. For example, soft plastics can be taken to some local supermarkets for recycling through RedCycle. Dental products, writing instruments and beauty products packaging can be dropped off at Ecolateral Stores for recycling through Terracycle (visit GoEcolateral.com.au/recycling for full details on accepted recycling streams).
  19. Take the ‘Less to Landfill Challenge’ by putting  your landfill bin out for collection only when it is either full or smelly.  See how long your household can go and see if you can extend the period each time.
  20. Spread the word. Chat with neighbours about redirecting food waste via the FOGO bin and share the other changes your household has done to reduce landfill and recycling waste. 
  21. Don’t forget to follow East Waste on social media or My Local Services app for more Christmas, New Year and holiday waste saving ideas. And be sure to follow Ecolateral and Reduce Reuse Recycle Radelaide on Facebook. 
Guest blogger Karen Murphy writes about living more sustainably and reducing waste in the home Karen Murphy is committed to winning the war on waste. She is a moderator of Adelaide’s own Facebook group Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Radelaide and regularly writes about reducing waste in the home and how to live more sustainably. She has generously shared her knowledge here as a guest writer. 

Join the #LesstoLandfill Challenge

We are doing the #LesstoLandfill Challenge in our house at the moment, so we only put our landfill bin kerbside when it’s either full or smelly and so far it has not seen the kerb this year. I would love other households to join the challenge, to see how long they can go and if they can extend the period each time.

Start by paying more attention to what you’re putting in your landfill bin. Is it really at the end of its life, or could it be reused, repaired, rehomed, recycled or even avoided? Look at everything as a resource and the idea that we want to keep this resource in use for as long as possible.

Secondly, check that you are using all possible recycling paths. Send food and organic waste to the green bin, soft plastics to REDcycle, container deposits to a recycling centre and all accepted items to your kerbside recycling bin. The South Australian government’s ‘Which Bin? Ask Vin!’ campaign is encouraging us to check that we are doing things right. Did you know that electronic items, batteries and light globes don’t go in landfill bins? Visit the new website at www.whichbin.sa.gov.au to find out where these and other items go. Ecolateral stores in Adelaide also act as a collection point for a number of recycling programs for products they sell as well as some hard to recycle items.  

Take a look at the things you are buying and start making some product switches. Replace single-use/disposable products with reusable ones and look for packaging that is either reusable, compostable or recyclable.

Imagine the difference if everyone made an effort to reduce their landfill waste and only put their bin out for pickup when needed. The reduction in fuel, carbon emissions and truck wear and tear would be significant. It would also result in a cost decrease to the council through lower collection and landfill levies, savings that could be directed towards other community initiatives.

It’s important to remember that the waste we put in our landfill bins is not sorted, it’s compacted and buried at landfill sites that are expensive to manage and negatively impact the environment. It’s crazy to think that we are burying our waste like an ostrich buries its head in the sand. I encourage every household to join the challenge, it’s amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to it.

If you’d like to join the #lesstolandfill challenge head over to the #LessToLandfill website and register.

Guest blogger Karen Murphy writes about living more sustainably and reducing waste in the home Karen Murphy is committed to winning the war on waste. She is a moderator of Adelaide’s own Facebook group Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Radelaide and regularly writes about reducing waste in the home and how to live more sustainably. She has generously shared her knowledge here as a guest writer. 

 

Introducing Sustainability in the Workplace

SUSTAINABILITY ARTICLE FOR THE WEEKENDER HERALD BY LIDDY DOLMAN  FEBRUARY 2014

‘INTRODUCING SUSTAINABILITY IN THE WORKPLACE’

When speaking to people about sustainability I find there are many who are living rewarding, sustainable lives privately but are reluctant to introduce their sustainable practices in the workplace for fear of becoming known as a ‘Tree Hugger’ or worse, a ‘Green Nazi’ – a term used, in jest I must say, on my daughter while she enthusiastically attempted to introduce environmental practices in her workplace.

If you work in a medium to large organisation and you are not aware of a sustainability plan currently in place, it may be an idea to speak to management about setting up a ‘Green Team’. A ‘Green Team’ is generally an informal group of staff, including management if possible, whose task it is to educate themselves and their colleagues about environmental issues, assess the sustainability of the various practices in the organisation and develop an action plan to help the organisation improve its overall environmental performance. It may be helpful to enlist the help of a Business Sustainability professional in the initial setting up and development phase of the team to ensure its long term success.

Let’s just have a look at some of the simple things that you can tackle in most workplaces that are not costly to implement, in fact can save money, and can help to improve your workplace’s environmental performance considerably.

  • Include Business Sustainability on the agenda for all internal work meetings
  • Introduce a recycling bin system – check out www.ecobin.com.au
  • Improving Energy Efficiency – what is left on when no one is in the workplace approximately 110 hours per week?? – Place signs at light switches to remind staff to turn off lights when the space is not in use, etc.
  • Assess the purchasing of all stationery – recommend the most sustainable solution for paper, pens and other stationery requirements – check out www.ecoofficesuppliers.com.au for some great ideas
  • Re-ink (Cartridge World) or recycle (Officeworks) all print cartridges
  • Use both sides of the paper wherever possible – can save many reams of paper (trees) per year
  • Introduce a food waste management system in the staff room eg: Bokashi System
  • Switch to re-usable coffee cups and water bottles
  • Encourage management to enlist the services of a Business Sustainability Assessor to provide a comprehensive assessment of the workplace including recommendations

Get the small wins on the board to start with and then, reach for the stars. The planet and your boss, will thank you.

Next edition – Living with high temperatures – simple tips to cool down

Visit me at Ecolateral 411 Magill Road St Morris or visit www.ecolateralshop.com.au for more info on sustainability.

How to Help Others Take the Sustainability Path

SUSTAINABILITY ARTICLE FOR THE WEEKENDER HERALD BY LIDDY DOLMAN  JANUARY 2014

‘HOW TO HELP OTHERS TAKE THE SUSTAINABILITY PATH’

What inspires me at Ecolateral every day is discussing environmental issues and the overall topic of sustainability with our customers in the shop, the pupils at a school talk, the visitors to a festival we are participating in or the members of a like-minded association that we are involved in.  Sharing knowledge is a powerful tool in our efforts to build sustainable communities and we can all take part.

Leading by example is of course the most important thing you can do to encourage others to take the sustainability path. Share your knowledge with family and friends about the benefits of your actions without seeming like you are lecturing or judging their points of view.

Become involved in local groups who are working towards improving the environment and sustainability eg:

Encourage a number of achievable sustainable activities at your children’s school, your workplace and any other activity that you are involved in eg:

  • Introduce the Bokashi Food Waste Management System at the local school or workplace.
  • Encourage the introduction of a recycling bin system in the workplace – contact www.ecobin.com.au to find out more.
  • Put forward a proposal to workplace management highlighting the benefits of setting up a ‘green team’ to develop and implement a workplace sustainability plan and offer to assist in the process.
  • Invite your family and friends to a fashion swap party, a growing trend in the eastern states.
  • Show off your gorgeous organically grown tomatoes to encourage others to have a go at growing their own.

The unprecedented growth in electronic media has provided a powerful platform to share environmental information that encourages thought and discussion. Use it to display new products you have found that provide you with a solution to an environmental need that may motivate others to take action. 

I heard a sentence recently that resonated with me that I felt could be used in many situations but works perfectly for this topic. “We are all teachers and we are all learners, so share what you know with others and you might just be rewarded by discovering something new yourself!”

 

Next edition – Introducing Sustainability in the Workplace

Visit me at Ecolateral 411 Magill Road St Morris or visit www.ecolateralshop.com.au for more info on sustainability.

A Vegetarian Diet – How and Why?

SUSTAINABILITY ARTICLE FOR THE WEEKENDER HERALD BY LIDDY DOLMAN  DECEMBER 2013

‘A VEGETARIAN DIET – How and Why?’

Einstein once said, “nothing will benefit human health and increase human chances for survival for life on earth as much as evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

There is a plethora of information about the health pros and cons of a vegetarian diet to confuse even the most intelligent people amongst us. However, there is enough written about the growing rate of cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes 1 and 2, osteoporosis etc. in nations that consume high levels of animal products that it certainly requires some discussion.

The following facts are very sobering if you look at the sustainability issues around farming animals for consumption.

“It takes less water to produce a year’s food for a pure vegetarian than to produce a month’s food for a meat eater” – John Robbins, Diet for a new America

A third of the world’s land suitable for growing crops is used to produce feed for farmed animals. Fact Sheet Vegetarian Society

Farming of animals caused more emissions (18%) than the world’s entire transport system (13.5%). Fact Sheet Vegetarian Society

Concern for the poor treatment of animals in ‘factory’ farms, live export of animals and in slaughterhouses around the world has also been the catalyst for many to eliminate meat, and for some all animal products, from their diets and clothing choices.

The first question people ask when told in conversation you are vegetarian is, “how do you get enough protein in your diet?” That one is easy: nuts, legumes (lentils, red beans, chick peas, soy beans), oats, seeds, pasta and tofu all provide a good level of the protein we need in our diet for good health.

Green vegetables provide various levels of Vitamin C, B Group, Iron, Folate, Vitamin K, Omega 3 and Minerals, and so the list goes on.

Websites, books and societies are ideal for gathering information on how to achieve your nutritional requirements on a vegetarian diet.

The number of fantastic vegetarian cook books on the market and growing number of vegetarian restaurants is indicative of the increase in the awareness of the negative aspects of consuming animal products.

A great way to start is to eliminate meat from your diet on just 2 days a week and start experimenting with the numerous and fabulously tasty vegetarian meals available.

Designing your Sustainable Home – The Key Considerations

SUSTAINABILITY ARTICLE FOR THE WEEKENDER HERALD BY LIDDY DOLMAN  OCTOBER 2013

‘DESIGNING YOUR SUSTAINABLE HOME – The Key Considerations’

So you have decided to build a new home, an exciting prospect and one that holds so many possibilities.

In this age of rising energy costs and resource depletion issues, it makes sense to make sustainability one of the important objectives on your list of criteria for your new home.

Sustainable homes require intelligent design, well thought out and detailed specification and a builder who is on the same page as your designer in respect to sustainability.

The key considerations are: Choosing your designer – This is the most important decision you will make so take the time to get it right. Do your research on Architects/Building Designers who specialize in sustainable/energy efficient building design. Short list and interview 2 or 3 and select a designer who is in line with your values and philosophies on the subject of sustainability. Orientation – Where possible, follow the principle of ‘living areas to the north and sleeping areas to the south’ Construction Materials – The choice of materials has as much to do with the thermal qualities and their environmental lifecycle as it does aesthetics so select materials that provide you with the right balance of all three. Insulation – It goes without saying that insulation of the roof, walls and flooring is an important factor in the thermal performance and ultimate comfort of the home. Zoning – Open space living may appeal to your aesthetic sensibility but balance that out with the challenges of heating and cooling the spaces. Ventilation – Configuration of the rooms and intelligently placed windows and doors can provide the ventilation required to greatly reduce the need for mechanical cooling devices during those hot summer months. Shading – Encourage your designer to take a holistic approach to the design of your home to incorporate the outside shading opportunities to improve the thermal performance of the building. Glazing –  Would you willingly toss 30 percent of your energy dollars out the window? Surprisingly that is how much of a typical home’s heating and cooling is lost through its windows and doors. Put it on your list of queries for your designer. Heating and Cooling – This part is easier if you have addressed all the other key considerations successfully. Do the research and talk to the professionals with your acquired knowledge to find the right solution for your needs.

There is so much more we could discuss on this subject, but only so much space. Come and speak to us if you are keen to find out more.

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