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Eco-friendly living, sustainable living, green living, mindful living, zero waste… What do they all mean? Where do I even start with an eco-friendly lifestyle?
To be mindful about what we purchase, consume and dispose of.
To do as much as possible to mitigate our carbon footprint and prevent further harm to our environment.
Here at Flora & Fauna, we’re extremely passionate about our wonderful environment and doing everything we can to protect it – so, we’ve put together a beginner’s guide to getting started with an eco-friendly lifestyle. Remember, small changes make a big difference; we hope you find something useful!
Before we get started, it’s important to identify why you want to start this lifestyle.
A great philosophy to go by is that education + awareness + compassion = meaningful action. You can’t create meaningful action without these three things.
There’s no point trying to change your habits if you’re fairly uneducated about a certain issue. For example, let’s talk about plastic pollution in the ocean.There’s currently 8 million pieces of plastic entering the oceans every single day and approximately 51 trillion microscopic pieces of plastic in the ocean; roughly the same weight as 1345 adult blue whales! 40% of all plastic produced is used in packaging, and two-thirds of ocean plastic pollution comes from land-based sources, e.g. littering in cities and beaches.
Okay, so now you know that plastic pollution is happening. You may start to notice the sheer amount of unnecessary plastic packaging in your supermarket, or the amount of disposable plastic that you use per day: water bottles, coffee cups, bags, cutlery, containers…all made of plastic. But what happens when all my plastic ends up in the ocean?
Without a sense of compassion or empathy, beginning an eco-friendly lifestyle is difficult. With the example of plastic pollution, it’s estimated that over 100,000 marine mammals such as dolphins, turtles and seals and 1 million seabirds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually. We see heartbreaking images of beautiful marine life entangled in nets, choking on plastic bags or starved to death due to plastic consumption. So, what can you do about it?
Meaningful Action = Long Term Change
Through education, awareness and compassion, you can look at your own habits and start making some changes. In regard to plastic pollution, aim to bring your reusable bags to the supermarket for the next week. Simple, right? The week after that, take yourwater bottlewith you and use a KeepCup for your morning takeaway coffee. Once you’ve implemented more changes to your lifestyle, you can encourage others to do the same! A quick tip – don’t try to do everything at once! Small changes often translate into long term habits.
So, now you probably have a better idea as to why you want to begin this lifestyle. What are some of the things you can do to be as eco-friendly as possible?
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE
Don’t purchase anything beyond what you need. Simple in theory, but not so much in practice. Yet, it’s an integral part of living an eco-friendly lifestyle; less consumption means less waste. Question everything you buy! Think about where and how it was made, how much you’ll use it and what will happen to it when you dispose of it. One easy win is fruit and veg. We saw a ridiculous picture of an avocado cut in half and wrapped in plastic and being sold that way. Need we say more!
Invest in some good quality reusable items to reduce your disposable plastic waste. Reusable water bottles and coffee cups are the perfect companions to your busy day! This Green + Kind Eco Box is another great way to get started with reusable items; it has two coconut bowls, a wooden cutlery set, two stainless steel straws and eight produce bags.
Anything made from thick plastic, wood, metal, cardboard, glass and electronic e-waste all have recycling options. At places like Coles and Woolworths, you can recycle soft plastics in REDcycle bins. Visit the War On Waste website for lots of helpful recycling tips. Empty beauty tubes, bottles, makeup packaging etc can be sent back to Flora & Fauna via our recycling program! For more info, read here.
As consumers, we have the power in our hands. Before you buy a product, find some information on how it was made, where the ingredients/materials were sourced from and whether the company has a bad track record. This applies to fashion, makeup, skincare, cleaning products, furniture, appliances and electronics. Here are some general purchasing tips:
Buy second hand- Reduce your textile wastage and ditch the throwaway culture!
Ditch disposables- Replace your hairbrushes (when worn out), toothbrushes, storage containers, cotton buds/pads and menstrual items with eco alternatives. Think of it as a sustainable makeover! You’ll find everything you need on the F&F website.
Say no to unethical companies- Avoid companies that test on animals, use non-vegan ingredients/materials or have a bad track record with workers’ rights. Flora & Fauna is B Corp Certified; a new type of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems!
Support transparent companies– Companies that do good exist because of your support and contribution! With a little prior research, you can decide whether a company aligns with your code of ethics.
Get creative with what you have– repair or upcycle what you already own. It’s about giving new life to something that you would have previously discarded. There are so many great ideas out there – start Googling!
Did you know that Australians throw out $8 billion worth of edible food per year? This number would be drastically reduced if we were smarter about how we approach food! Try to source locally grown food from markets to contribute to your community’s economy while decreasing your carbon footprint. Cook from home as often as you can and grow your own fruits/veggies and herbs, if you are short on space window boxes work really well. Bring your own food to work/school in a reusable food container, it’s a great way to cut down on plastic (and unnecessary spending!) For food scraps, try composting! These Urban Composters are a great way to reduce the amount of perishable food sent to landfill.
Reducing your meat and dairy intake is the ‘single biggest way' to reduce your carbon footprint – by up to 73%! For every 100g of beef produced, 105kg of greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. Crazy, right? A study by the University of Oxford found that even the lowest impact meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental harm than the least sustainable vegetable and cereal growing.
Remember, an eco-friendly lifestyle is a journey. Do the best that you can! Education, awareness and compassion are the keys to creating meaningful change. Look inward at your own beliefs and habits, then act upon what you can do externally. Good luck!