singe-use disposable coffee cup
Jan 08, 2020
Posted by: Daniel Walker

10 simple things you can do to help the environment

Everyone has a role to play in helping the environment and being more sustainable. If everyone did just one extra thing or decreased a bad habit, the world would be a much better place for our future children. Below I have listed what I think are 10 simple things you can do to help the environment today. I have specifically chosen these things because they can be done with little effort and little to no money invested.

 

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How you can help the environment today

 

1. Pick up rubbish every day

 

Rubbish can be found almost anywhere you look, it could be plastic bags, food wrappers, bottle caps, aluminium cans or plastic bottles. By picking up rubbish as you walk past it and disposing of it correctly could make a huge difference. I have managed to incorporate this great habit of picking up trash into my everyday life. Every day I like to pick up bottles and cans and dispose of them in the return and earn scheme. If you live in any of the participating states or territories you can claim a 10c refund on all eligible aluminium cans and glass and plastic bottles you return.

The return and earn scheme was introduced in NSW because each year more than 160 million aluminium cans and plastic bottles are disposed of incorrectly in NSW. This problem is compounded by the fact that plastic bottles were the fifth most found item worldwide during the 2019 annual International Coastal Cleanup.

At the time of writing this, more than 2.9 billion eligible bottles, cartons and cans have been returned since the scheme was first introduced in NSW in 2017. About one in two adults in NSW have participated in the scheme, reducing the number of containers reaching landfill by about 57 per cent.

 

2. REDcycle your soft plastics

 

Another great initiative that everyone in Australia can take part in is taking all eligible soft plastics to your local REDcycle bin at supermarkets. The REDcycle program collects all types of soft plastics like plastic bags, silver-lined chip packets, cling wrap, frozen vegetable packets and bread bags. The soft plastics are then used to create new products like outdoor furniture, signage, bollards and outdoor decking.

 

3. Don’t let your cat or dog out

 

domestic cat hunting

 

Something that I don’t seem to see a lot of people online talking about is the effects that cats and dogs have had on Australian native animals, which are vital to Australia’s ecosystems. However, this is not just an Australian problem, cats are the second most invasive species in the world behind rodents, followed by dogs in third. It’s really important to not let your cats outside and to always make sure your dogs are safely contained at home and leashed at all times when out and about. Here in Australia, many native reptiles, mammals and birds have had huge reductions in their numbers because of feral and domestic cats and dogs.  In total, cats in Australia alone, both domestic and feral, kill 3 million mammals, 2 million reptiles and 1 million birds every day.

Dogs and cats are by nature instinctive hunters, if they are given the opportunity to hunt, they will. The best way to avoid this is to keep your cat inside at all times and to make sure your dog can’t escape.

 

4. Create a small garden

 

sprouting plant

 

Possibly one of the easiest things you can do is to plant a garden. Whether you create one in your front yard, back yard or on your small apartment balcony, a garden is a great thing to do. There are many benefits to starting your own garden. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere and they create food for both humans and for animals. By growing your own foods you can lower your carbon footprint, save money, avoid foods wrapped in plastic and rely less on farmers and supermarkets to provide you with all your foods.

Starting a garden doesn’t have to be hard. It also doesn’t require a large area, you can grow a lot in a small space. The great thing about starting a garden is there are no limits as to what you can plant. Incorporating a lot of native plants alongside a mix of foreign flowers will attract vital pollinating insects like endemic Australian bees and native birds. And planting your favourite fruits, vegetables and herbs means you will have access to delicious produce all year round.

To get your own garden started you can purchase all your seed packets from one of our very favourite eco stores, BioMe. They stock everything ranging from staples like tomatoes and carrots to flowers like marigold, sunflowers and nasturtium.

 

 

5. Start composting food scraps

 

Food waste and food scraps can be extremely deadly to the earth’s atmosphere. When food is placed in the regular garbage it doesn’t decompose properly. Foods can create more methane gases than cars when they break down in the regular trash. To prevent this from happening a good idea is to turn that food into compost. There are many different ways you can start composting your food scraps, whether you live in an apartment with no yard or if you do have your own backyard space there is a method for you. To get started, Biome has you covered with a range of different composting systems.

I’ve written more extensive articles on composting methods, why you should compost and how you can start composting you can read them here:

 

6. Conserve water

 

We can all do more to reduce the amount of water we are using. Water is a limited resource and is vital to our survival. Water is used daily for so many different things. This makes it an easy thing to start with when you want to help the environment. You can do a range of different things like taking shorter showers, filling a cup of water when brushing your teeth, using greywater on your gardens and washing your car with a bucket instead of a hose.

I have previously written a list of 15 different ways you can save water at home. All of the things listed can be done without spending any money. You can read the article here:

 

7. Bring your own coffee cup

 

keepcup reusable coffee cup

 

Bringing your own coffee cup, or drinking your coffee inside the cafe in a mug is a great way to cut down waste. Here in Australia 2.7 million takeaway, coffee cups are disposed of every single day. This adds up to approximately 1 billion coffee cups each year. That is a lot of unnecessary waste. To combat the problem we should all have a reusable cup and use it as often as possible, or simply stay and drink our hot beverages in-store.

Both Kayleigh and I have a reusable coffee cup and we recommend you also investing in your own one. You can purchase a reusable cup from Biome, they have a huge range of different brands that come in all different sizes and designs.

 

Recycling coffee cups

 

singe-use disposable coffee cup

 

As great as it is to bring your own cup there are times when it is not possible. Sometimes there is a lack of time to drink in-store. Other times you just simply forget your reusable cup, I’ve been guilty of this on many occasions. While I don’t necessarily like the thought of using takeaway cups, unfortunately, it does happen from time to time. Luckily there is a great initiative from Closed Loop called Simply Cups. The aim of Simply Cups is to collect as many coffee cups as possible so they can be recycled. The coffee cups are used to produce outdoor furniture and roadside kerbing.

To get involved, simply return your coffee cups and lids to a participating business. Two large chains selling a high volume of coffee, 7Eleven and Muffin Break are leading the way. Other cafes and businesses like McDonald’s are running trials in a few select restaurants. Since the program was first implemented in Australia in May 2017, more than 9 million coffee cups have been diverted from landfill. There is a long way to go, but it is one small solution to a major problem.

We will avoid takeaway coffee cups as often as we can but if we do consume from a disposable coffee cup we will most definitely hold onto them and take them to one of these coffee cup recycling stations.

 

8. Consume less meat

 

Cows are an extremely resource-heavy animal so eating less beef means you can reduce your carbon footprint in many ways. Cattle produce methane gases which are much more potent than carbon dioxide. The land required for cows to roam and to produce huge amounts of food they consume is large and also has its own carbon footprint.

Cutting meat out of your diet for even just one day during the week will make a huge difference.

I previously wrote an article on how you can reduce your meat consumption, you can read it here:

 

9. Use less nasty chemicals for cleaning

 

Many cleaning and personal hygiene products contain harmful chemicals and/or microbeads that enter our water supply, can kill organisms and ultimately enter into our food chain. Many consumer laundry detergents and personal hygiene products contain chemicals like Nonylphenol ethoxylates, bleaches and dyes, which can all be toxic to marine life.

Scented laundry detergents and scented air fresheners may also damage air quality in and around your home. Some of the most popular brands and products contain known carcinogens like acetaldehyde and benzene.

To combat this problem it is important to start purchasing natural, eco-friendly products. We recommend Biome for all your natural, eco-friendly personal hygiene products. Biome sells all kinds of natural products like skincare, hair products, makeup, deodorants and many more.

 

 

We also recommend buying products with natural ingredients from companies like Lush and buying natural eco-friendly cleaning products from brands like Koala Eco.

 

10. Use less power

 

Using less power at home is a really easy way to help the environment out. Electricity in the home is produced from many sources, including burning coal, wind energy, water and solar. Unfortunately, in this current time, burning coal is the most common way people here in Australia get their electricity, so the more electricity consumed, the more fossil fuels used.

To help the environment out we can all reduce the amount of power we use. Simple things we can all do are turning power points off when not in use, turning lights off in rooms we aren’t using and installing energy-efficient appliances and lightbulbs. During the hotter months rather than turning the air conditioner to the coldest setting, set it to around 24°C or 25°C. In Winter the same rule applies, don’t set the air conditioner to the warmest setting, dial it back about three or four degrees. Other things include using a clothesline to dry wet clothes and using eco settings on all appliances.

 

There are so many things you can do to help out the planet. We would love to hear about the different ways in which you are doing your part. Let us know in the comments below what you do so that we can also implement them in our own daily routines.

 

You may be interested in these other sustainability articles:

 

Daniel Walker - Author

Daniel Walker is an Australian landscape photographer, blogger, outdoor enthusiast and travel addict originally from western Sydney, now residing in Melbourne, Victoria.

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