Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Green is the new black

I'm a bit of a greenie at heart, and lately I've been reading all sorts of blogs about living a greener and more sustainable life. There is so much information out there, it can be quite overwhelming.

So gradually, I've been taking a mental note of what I do that impacts the environment and produces unnecessary waste or wastes unnecessarily - and thinking of small ways I can change all that. Consistently and achievably (so I continue doing it).

Here's what I came up with:

Waste/r:  Take-away coffee cups!

An obvious one. I'm including it for statistical impact.

I have 1 take away coffee every work day.
1 paper cup per day, 5 days per week, 48 work weeks per year = 240 cups per year. I'm 30 now. If I work another 30 years in my life that's 8400 paper cups. That is a lot of everything. A lot of trees. A lot of chemicals. A lot of transporting the cups. A lot of landfill.

Solution: Eco cup. I now have a fabulous Lock & Lock eco cup, which I take to work every day and then wash out with the rest of my evening dishes. Too easy. It would have taken more effort and probably more resources to make - but if I'm careful it should last me at least 5 years if it doesn't break. Hopefully longer.

Saving: at least 7200 paper cups! 

[Picture: Eat Me Daily, The Beta Cup Challenge to Create Recyclable Coffee Cups by Ann Marie Awad.]

Lads, skip to the next bit. Period talk coming.

Waste/r:  Pads and tampons!

Have you ever looked at a pad in the morning and thought, what a waste, there's only a tiny spot or nothing even came out! I'm a lady. I cycle every month for 5-7 days, let's round it to 6 per month. 13 cycles per year. I've had my period since I was 14 or 15 I think (I can't remember). Let's say 14. I probably use 7 pads per cycle (mostly at night time and around the house). That's at least 91 pads per year. If I keep cycling until I'm (what is the average?) 52, that's another 22 years of using pads, which is another 2002 pads in my life.... *sigh*


These things are amazing. They're basically non disposal pads right? Too easy. They clip around your nickers like padded wings, but without the stickyness, with a press stud. Made from flannely cottony fabric, they're so soft in your knickers (far, far more comfortable than disposables), and with all the pretty fabrics you'll be excited about that time of the month. 

Before you freak out, two thoughts: we don't always opt for disposable nappies - and it's really no different to washing a pair of nickers you accidentally leaked onto. They come with instructions on how to wash, it's all very hygenic and easy to do. You just need an empty icecream/yogurt tub to soak in cold water, then you chuck in with the rest of your laundry!

They come in different designs and different absorbencies. I got 2 to try initially but have gone back for a few more. At approx $7 for liners, $9 for super thin...right up to $17.50 for supers - and lasting 5 years if you treat 'em right - they're incredibly cost efficient and will save a lot of space on land fill.

NB: I am currently working up to trying Diva Cups. Not 100% sold on that yet.

Saving: at least 2002 pads!

Waste/r: Paper towels.

Every time I go to the loo at work I use paper towel to dry my hands - 2 sheets actually because 1 just doesn't cut it. I go to the loo alot, maybe 4 or 5 times during the work day. 8 sheets per day, 40 sheets per week, 1920 sheets per year. If I work another 30 years that's 57600 sheets for the rest of my working life, potentially.

Solution: Dry my hands on my clothes, flick dry, or use a towel (there's one in the kitchen or I could BYO hand towel). 

Saving: 57600 sheets of paper towel!

[Picture from Discard Studies blog, Debut Guest Post! Friedman’s “Washing Up” by Robin Nagle. Thank you Robin it's a great pic!]

Waste/r: Flushing.

Again, I go to the toilet a lot. That's a lot of flushing and a lot of toilet paper.

Solution: Use less paper. If it's yellow...let it mellow, etc. This is something you can only really enjoy if you either live alone or with a partner. (Sharehousing and letting it mellow ain't cool.)

Saving: Potentially hundreds of litres of water.

Waste/r: Bottled drinks, in particular water.

Have you ever stopped to wonder how much you're paying for bottled water? At $3 for 400ml that's $7.50 per litre! Also the bottles really mount up. I'm talking all bottled drinks, but in particular water. We are so lucky we have beautiful water that comes right out of our taps. And yet I find myself thirsty, and looking for the nearest store I can buy water. Crazy!

[Picture: theage.com.au Battle of the Bottle by Rachel Browne.]

Solution: Stainless Steel Eco water bottles. They look great, they're BPA free (not that I know what that is but it sounds good...something to do with chemicals found in plastics)...and they last. You buy one, then you refill it over and over. Saving heaps of water bottles.

Saving: I'll be saving $7.50 per litre of water in the future, as well as hundreds of plastic bottles.

[Picture: Eco News, Research shows bottled water consumption slows by David Twomey.]

What do you do to cut down on waste?  

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