Three ways to be an environmentally conscious house
Outside of making sustainable energy choices, there are a few easy steps you can take to make a big difference to your household’s environmental footprint.
When it comes to choosing what’s right for your household, there are three areas to consider:
• what you choose to buy
• your daily habits
• what you do with the things you don’t need
Becoming a conscious consumer
The next time your family needs a new item, ask yourself: “is buying new our only option?”. While we might not always be comfortable popping next door to borrow something, there are community and council organisations that can help.
Locally you might find toy, book and tool libraries where you can hire what you need. There are also repair cafes which help you to salvage items by fixing or upgrading them. If you’re not sure what’s in your area, start by checking with your local council online or in person. Another idea is to search for local area Facebook groups that you can get advice from.
If you do end up needing to make a purchase, check if you can get the item second-hand first. Places like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and charity stores often have near-new items for sale. If you decide to buy new, where possible look for good quality items that won’t need to be replaced in a hurry or thrown into the bin quickly.
Creating ‘green habits’ together
Sometimes it’s difficult to see how small actions add up to larger change when you’re making good choices for the environment – and it can be even tougher to explain to kids why you’re making these changes. A hands-on approach involves children and gets everyone thinking about the day-to-day choices we make.
35% of the average Aussie household bin is food waste. If you have the room – even a balcony or windowsill can work – try creating a garden as a family. The highs and lows of growing plants is a great way to teach environmental concepts to kids. As a bonus you might even get a healthy, homegrown snack out of it too!
If your kids respond to systems like star charts, consider introducing one for environmentally friendly behaviours like recycling, reusing containers and bottles and not wasting food.
To help kids understand the bigger picture, look for community events like clean-ups or tree planting days. Again, your local council and Facebook groups are great places to find events.
Finding better ways to deal with waste
Of course, the best way to avoid household waste is to reduce how much of it you create! Meal planning means you’re only shopping for what you need and don’t end up throwing half of your veggies in the bin.
When you do have bits to throw away, composting turns scraps into useful fertiliser. If you don’t have an outdoor area or are worried about maintaining a larger compost system, a bokashi bin may be for you.
You’re probably already sorting your common household rubbish into recyclables but what about bigger or more unusual items? Have a look at the services provided by TerraCycle who specialise in recycling the “non-recyclable” like coffee capsules, pens and plastic gloves.
Local collection programs like hard rubbish are a good way to get rid of larger items, but don’t forget to look for avenues where you can sell or donate items in good condition. You might just save a neighbour from having to make a new purchase of their own!
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