How Can You Reduce Your Waste?
In East Gippsland, we throw away over 21,000 tonnes of waste into landfill each year.
It’s not good for the environment and wastes precious resources. All waste materials represent an investment of water, energy and natural resources for example coal, oil or trees. When disposed to landfill, all of the resources and embodied energy used to make them is lost.
Landfilled waste also threatens natural habitats, and contributes carbon emissions by producing methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes 21 times more to global warming than carbon dioxide.
Before you buy an item or throw one away, think about the 4 Rs – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Refuse - Buy products not packaging! Refuse to purchase products that use excessive packaging and materials, particularly single-use plastics like plastic bags and plastic straws.
Reduce - Reducing what you buy and prevent waste being created in the first place is the most effective way to lessen our impact on the environment.
Re-use - Using items over and over in their current form or for another purpose is the second most effective way you can reduce waste. Bring your own reusable cup for your morning coffee and reusable bags for shopping – you can even find reusable produce bags that are much better for carrying fruits and vegetables than the flimsy plastic ones!
Recycle – Make full use of the recycling services we and other organisations offer to make sure resources do not end up in landfill. For example, you cannot recycle household batteries or mobile phones through your kerbside bin/skip bin or trailer, but they can still be recycled. Take your household batteries to the Bairnsdale Landfill or Aldi Supermarkets for recycling, and drop your old mobile phones into Mobile Muster bins located at Shire Service Centres in Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance and Orbost.
Donate your clothing and household items rather than throwing them out
Local charity stores and OP Shops will be happy to receive your pre-loved goods, one persons trash is another one's treasure! Remember when donating that goods must be in good condition, clean, in tact and worthy of resale. For information on how to donate through these stores, please contact them directly. Do not use charity disposal bins as a way to get rid of waste, it is a heavy burden on these local stores, which are largely volunteer run.
This article on the Interior Philosophy's blog lists charities and organisations in East Gippsland who would benefit from your donations.
Limit your packaging and food waste
You can reduce your waste significantly by being mindful of the amount of packaging on the foods you buy. For example, one large container of juice instead of six small containers, buying unpackaged fresh fruits and vegetables, and making your own healthy muesli bars at home instead of a box of individually wrapped bars.
Did you know? Household waste bins contain 35% food waste, and the average Victorian household throws out approximately $2,200 worth of food each year!
You can reduce your food waste by:
- Finishing your leftovers - Leftover food can make quick and easy lunches for the next day or can be used to create tasty new meals. Check the Love Food Hate Waste website for recipes.
- Keep portion size in mind – Take note of how much you and your family eat at meal times, if you always have too much left over, make less food.
- Store your food effectively – Use good quality airtight containers for your leftovers, write dates on them so you know when they need to be eaten by, keep them at eye level in the fridge so you don’t forget about them, and freeze items you know can be frozen to last longer.
- Plan your meals - Making shopping lists can help prevent impulse purchases and buying things you might not need. Plan meals in advance and stick to your list while in the shops. You’ll see the difference in your hip pocket as well as what you throw away.
- Home Composting - Composting is an easy way to dispose of green waste, reduce household waste and create food for the garden. You can purchase a compost bin from hardware stores, nurseries, online, or make one yourself. If you don’t have space for a compost bin, try a bokashi system .
- Worm Farming - Worm composting is a method for recycling food waste into a rich soil conditioner. Worm farms can live outdoors or indoors, and are a great option for schools and offices. Worm compost will provide nutrients for your plants, and help the soil hold moisture.
Did you know? Junk mail makes up six per cent of all paper used, equating to 240,000 tonnes of paper per year. We could fill 8,640 Olympic swimming pools with the water used to produce a year’s worth of catalogues!
You can say no to junk mail by:
- Putting a ‘No Junk Mail’ sticker on your letterbox - these are available from most hardware stores
- Registering on the Australian Direct Marketing ‘Do Not Mail’ register. This will stop you receiving mail from any businesses you do not currently deal with. Registrations only relate to ADMA member companies so it may not stop all unwanted promotional mail.
- If you want to stop receiving mail from a specific business, contact the business directly and advise them to take your name off their mailing list.
For more tips and inspiration to simplify your home and reduce your waste, check out:
Gippsland Unwrapped: A blog written by Gippslander Tammy Logan about her family attempting a zero waste lifestyle. It is full of information and advice on minimising waste and supporting local business.
The Rogue Ginger: A blog written by Erin Rhoades, a Melbournian attempting to live a plastic free and zero waste life. The blog discusses plastic free alternatives to shopping, cooking, makeup, cleaning and travel.