Green living has never been more important. Scientists believe this decade will decide the future of the planet and us as a species. There is only so much waste we can produce, so much carbon dioxide we can release into the atmosphere, before the air becomes overly saturated by unbreathable gases and the Earth warmed to temperatures beyond which the human body can endure. Worse still, our actions destroy entire ecosystems, decreasing the chance for life other than ours anywhere on the globe.
If this sounds like the stuff of science fiction it’s only because we’ve lived with this warning since the beginning of the industrial era, when we first began to burn coal and produce crude oil. The future we were warned about is nearly here.
Luckily, we’re still in a decade where we can make changes, and reverse much of the damage we’ve already done. And while it seems like our individual actions don’t amount to much, consider that the average Kiwi throws away 159 grams of plastic a day.* That’s over 807,000kgs of waste produced by our country daily!
We’ve already proven we can go green by banning the plastic bag, with the bottle next in line. But finding green ways to reduce waste isn’t always so obvious. Here are a few tips for reducing waste in your life.
Disposable coffee cups.
While they appear to be made of cardboard, takeaway coffee cups are actually coated in thin plastic, to keep the liquid in. To avoid adding to landfills try to take your own coffee cup or travel mug with you. Whilst glass, ceramic or metal, with natural rubber hand grips, are best for the environment, even having one plastic travel mug you reuse will help cutdown what ends up in rubbish tips.
A great way to avoid staining your teeth, straws are a hard thing to give up. If you’re struggling to ditch the straw, investing in a metal, bamboo, silicon or durable plastic straw could be the solution for you. Alternatively, you could buy a bunch of edible rice or plant based straws, if you don’t want to be forever washing a reusable one. Whatsmore, edible straws are a good way to stay eco and have something to chew on at the same time!
It’s hard to find an immediate solution here, because so many foods come in takeaway containers. However, if you bring in your own cutlery or invest in tupperware containers, you can always ask whoever is serving you to avoid the plastic.
Cut-out individually wrapped packets.
A lot of food is overly packaged, bundling smaller portions or individually wrapped items in a larger plastic wrap. If you can avoid plastic when shopping we recommend you do - but if not, go for items that only use one layer of plastic wrap, to reduce overall wastage.
If you need plastic for whatever reason, try to find items that promote recycled plastic, whether a pair of sunglasses, a belt buckle or toothbrush. You can also find compostabile items a lot of the time - party plates you can chuck in with the compost are a solid way to avoid both dishes and landfills!
Easily one of the most disposable plastics, gladwrap is only ever good for a single use. Tupperware is a way around this problem, but if you’re struggling to find the right sized containers consider a washable cotton based wrap, which you can use to seal in the freshness of your food time and time again.
Reusable bread bag.
While our shopping bags in New Zealand might be reusable, it’s easy to overlook the amount of plastic we put in them. If you can, try buying fresh bread at the counter, instead of wrapped plastic, and take along a cloth bag with you to wrap it in.
We may think of yoga mats as a one-off buy, but in actual fact most yoga mats are replaced after a year. This is because, even if they don’t tear, plastic mats soak up a lot of sweat and grime, so they quickly become not so fresh. Investing in a yoga mat made of natural materials, such as cork, hemp, jute, bamboo or even natural cotton or rubber could be a better way to go. All can be cut up and used around the house - cork, hemp and jute even make good compost, once you’ve done with them!
Eartha is a sustainability community, dedicated to finding ways to reduce the amount of waste we all produce. Everything we sell is chosen with care, to help look after our planet and to promote wellness and spiritual health. We’re particularly passionate about yoga, which combines all three of our core interests. So we’re launching with a range of cork mats, to promote a better, more sustainable yoga practice. Have a look at our range here.
Works citedMcDonald, Liz. “New Zealand to ban a raft of single-use plastics by 2025”. Stuff. June 28th, 2021. URL: https://bit.ly/3bo2mE0