Look, I’m not pointing any fingers (Sharon) but we’re all to blame for putting our big ol’ grubby human footprint on Australia, and even though none of us live forever, our kids’ kids’ kids’ kids’ kids’ kids will all still have to live here, so we need to start doing a teensy bit more to help clean up after ourselves.
Don’t worry, I see you using those flimsy paper straws at fast-food restaurants, and most of us know not to just piff our rubbish out the car window, but there are a few more things we can do that honestly require almost no effort at all.
No really, it’s more of an effort to make small talk with the cashier for three seconds while you wait for your card to get approved. (Pro top: smile at them awkwardly and then think about how awkward you were for the rest of the day, that’s what I do.)
We chatted to our good ol’ pal Pip Kiernan over at Clean Up Australia to get some little tips and tricks that all go towards giving Aus a little polish and shine.
1. Say goodbye to balloons
Okay, I thought I’d start with the hardest one and work my way down to the easiest because this, for me, will be the biggest challenge. I love balloons. I use them for every occasion. Birthday? Balloons. Funeral? Balloons. Caught cheating with your partner’s best friend’s older cousin? You betcha – balloons.
“Balloons and other soft plastic waste in oceans are 32 times more likely to kill seabirds than hard plastic waste,” Pip mentions, also citing a recent Australian study that claims latex balloons didn’t degrade in the slightest after 16 weeks in all forms of water and industrial compost conditions, despite being marketed as ‘100% biodegradable’.
I love balloons, but if I’m blowing them up for every occasion under the sun, lock me up in bird jail because the birds are angry.
2. Stop “wishcycling”
I’d personally never heard the term ‘wishcycling’ before Pip said it but now that I know what it is, I feel a pang of remorse as I’m once again guilty of doing this in the past.
Wishcycling is essentially the act of putting whatever you can into the recycling bin, regardless of whether it’s recyclable. See, in my mind I was all, ‘Well perhaps they can recycle it and I just don’t realise,’ but I was wrong. Putting non-recyclables in recycling can actually contaminate the genuinely recyclable items, essentially ruining it for everyone.
Pro tip? Read what’s actually written on the lid of your recycling bit. And remember that sometimes in order to recycle best, we have to recycle less.
My sincerest apologies for giving you whiplash from reading the word ‘recycling’ 4000 times? Moving along.
3. Don’t be so uptight about wearing the same clothes more than once
Fast fashion is increasingly becoming a problem and once again, I’m not pointing any fingers, but I don’t think it helps that online, people are seemingly wearing a different outfit every day of the year. That’s impossible unless you own Paris Hilton‘s closet – I saw it on her cooking show, it’s huge.
Anyway, no one needs to buy clothes for 365 days of the year. I still own shirts I bought from an op shop in London (brag) seven years ago, and not even I thought corduroy would come back in…which it did. These styles just go around in a circle, so stop chasing that circle.
The problem with fast fashion is that we’re buying 60% more clothing and keeping them for about half as long as we did 15 years ago, and in the process we’re giving so many of our clothes away in record time. The places that receive them are getting overwhelmed and the clothes become trash quick-sticks.
“It is estimated that only 15% of our donated clothes are resold within Australia, the rest are sent to landfill or overseas to developing nations,” Pip confirms.
4. Think before you leave the home
I tend to lose things quite frequently. Phones, wallets, minds, keys, I’ve had to replace them all upwards of three times.
It’s 12, I was lying. I’ve had to replace them all 12 times.
The point is, I’ve now created a mental checklist that I have everything on me before I leave the house, so if you’ve got a bunch of reusable items, chuck them on the list too: phone, wallet, keys, coffee cup, metal straw to down a White Claw without moving your jaw.
See? It just rolls off the tongue. No more disposable coffee cups for you, fancy pants.
5. Get involved
Alright, this one is by far the easiest because there could also be a little something-something in it for you, and we all know that the one thing people value the most above everything else, is themselves.
Clean Up Australia has joined forces with Play For Purpose to throw a raffle with the sweet, sweet first prize of $250,000. My god, that’s a lot of zeros.
The tickets cost 10 bucks a pop which is less than a pint of beer (bloody capitalism, I think?), and I’ll let Pip take it away from here: “$5 from each ticket sold goes directly to empowering Australians to take positive action for the environment. Clean Up Australia provides free resources and materials to communities, schools and youth groups all year round, supporting Aussies everywhere to clean up, fix up and conserve the environment.”
Alternatively, you can get involved directly with Clean Up Australia by joining one of the dozens of programs and initiatives they run, so definitely check that out here if you’re sick of being a little slob (Sharon).Image: iStock / Lighthousebay