Resolutions / Wellbeing

The most impactful sustainability changes that you can make

Sustainability is a journey, not an instant change. Becoming more eco-friendly and taking steps to be more mindful of our environment is something that - for many of us - is a process. Don't judge yourself too harshly and celebrate small wins. Any step you can take towards a more sustainable future is a positive one.

In honour of Earth Day on April 22, we're celebrating April as Earth Month. Here are some things that you can do that will have the biggest impact towards being more sustainable today. You'd be surprised at how small some of these changes are.


1. Switch your electricity provider to a green energy provider - they're the same price

It only takes 10 minutes and it won't cost you more.

Two years ago I switched to Diamond Energy which is one of the most sustainable energy companies in Australia. It actually ended up cheaper than my current provider. Greenpeace recently pulled together The Green Energy Guide which breaks down all the nitty gritty so you can choose the best and greenest option for you. Giving your money to a sustainable business helps to empower that business to grow and continue its good work. It also helps to stop funding unsustainable energy practices.

Why is this so impactful: 75% of greenhouse emissions are caused by fossil fuels (coal, petrol, gas). Additionally 21% of greenhouse emissions can be specifically traced to heating, cooling and lighting buildings. If many of us move away from coal power in our homes, we can reduce this significantly.


2. Minimise your food waste - use your freezer

A third of the world's food is thrown away or wasted.

From a climate perspective, this is a two-fold problem. When an apple is thrown in the bin, we waste the water and resources required to grow that apple. But now that apple will be producing greenhouse gases as it decomposes in landfill.

Utilising your freezer to minimise what goes in the bin makes a huge difference. Freeze your leftovers, Freeze ripened fruit for smoothies and cakes, freeze raw meat, freeze cooked meat. You can even freeze herbs.

Why is this so impactful: Agriculture is driving almost 90% of deforestation. Deforestation reduces our ability to remove carbon the from the air. 25 per cent of the global land surface is used for grazing livestock. If we eat all the food we produce rather than throwing it away, would could reduce our consumption of these resources by a third.


3. Buy less

Every single item comes with carbon footprint. T-shirt required thousands of litres of water to grow the cotton, then petrol for the machine that harvests and transports the cotton, electricity to power the manufacturing facility and more petrol to transport that t-shirt to a store to be sold.

The act of choosing to NOT buy something is one of the most radical acts in our fight to protect the Earth. Of course, we need to clothe and feed ourselves with the essentials. But next time you're considering buying a new dress or shoes that you know you'll only wear once, consider whether this is something you really need. Or whether you might be better off leave it on the shelf

Why is this so impactful: One t-shirt requires 2,700 litres of water, enough to nourish a human for 900 days. Manufacturing new products is one of the most resource intensive things we do as a species. Additional humans produce 2.24 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste annually. Reducing how much we buy minimises our use of resources and our production of waste.


4. When you are shopping, try vintage

When my last tan belt died and I knew it was time to replace, I decided to try Depop first. I wanted something very high quality, likely from a luxury brand. I didn't want to buy another cheap item that I'd have to throw in the bin in just a year. I ended up finding a vintage Gucci belt that had had two previous owners. It was still in near perfect condition.

There are so many good reasons to shop pre-loved clothing. It's more affordable, it reduced the demand for new items and it reduces the chance that pre-loved clothes will end up in landfill. Australia is second highest consumer of textiles in the world - per capita. So, buying preloved clothing actively helps reduce waste. On the flipside, another huge way to help is to sell your old things too. If you have pieces that feel like they could have another life, platforms like Depop, Vestiaire Collective or even eBay make it easy to find a second home for your preloved goods.

Why is it so impactful: Shopping preowned items eliminates most of carbon footprint associated with new purchases. There are no extra resources (beyond what was used in the original production) used, other than the petrol required to ship it to your house. Additionally, the average Australian throws 23 kilos of clothing away per year, in fact 80% of unwanted clothing ends up in landfill. Shopping preowned items keeps them out of landfill



5. Ditch the unboxing experience - opt for products with less packaging

The same principles as "buy less" apply here. Anytime you can avoid unnecessary packaging, you're doing the world some good.

Buy loose tomatoes instead of the ones in a pre-packaged bag. Put your apples straight into the basket instead of grabbing a plastic bag to hold them in. Avoid beauty products that have multiple layers of cardboard and plastic casings.

Finding ways to buy less packaging is one of the best and easiest ways to cut down on waste. It means you're consuming less, thus reducing the need for new things to be made - and the associated carbon footprint. It also means, less rubbish ends up in landfill. Generally, the packaging associated with groceries, beauty products and clothing ends up in the bin, its often not recyclable. Looking for ways not to buy it at all is always best.

Why is it so impactful: Packaging materials are often plastic and plastic is made from fossil fuels. Overuse of plastic is a key contributor to the 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions attributed fossil fuels. Also, small plastics like produce bags are a huge killer of sealife.


6. If you can afford it, switch to an electric car

It's not possible for everyone, but if you can, it makes a big difference.

Every year, a typical passenger emits 4.6 metric tonnes of carbon via their vehicle. In fact, a transition to electric vehicles will be an essential part of meeting any net zero targets.

Why is it so impactful: Transportation is a big contributor to greenhouse gas production (a fifth of total emissions) as most vehicles like planes, ships, cars and trucks rely on fossil fuels for power. Petrol-powered road vehicles (trucks and cars) account for the largest part of that contribution, around three quarters.

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