The War on Waste - how to make your home more sustainable

September 2022 in

The War on Waste – how to make your home more sustainable.

Australia is one of the most wasteful countries anywhere in the developed world. According to the 2017 ABC documentary, War on Waste, we generate 52 mega tonnes of rubbish per year, and are ranked fifth highest for generating the most municipal waste in the world! In order to reduce these alarming statistics, and to save ourselves from drowning in our own rubbish, we all need to make changes in our homes, and to how we live.

But thankfully, it’s not all bad news. Aussies everywhere, who are passionate about sustainability and the environment, have already started signing up to fight in the war on waste. You too can help create a cleaner and greener community from the comfort of your home. It’s all about learning the four Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle.

If you haven’t already started, here are some simple ways you can make your home eco-friendlier.

Organise your recycling.

Small collective actions make a big impact when it comes to producing less waste in your household. Why not create a compost and/or worm farm for food scraps, like vegetable and fruit peels, tea bags, coffee grinds and eggshells which you can use in your garden? Also educate yourself on what you can and can’t put into your rubbish and recycling bins and locate them in convenient spots – not way out in the garage, or around the side of the house where you know spiders lie in wait and you won’t want to venture out in the dark.

Don't waste food!

Australians throw out an estimated 25% of the food they buy. So think about whether you really need all of the things you’re buying for your kitchen. Instead, try to plan meals ahead of time so you only purchase what you need, freeze leftovers, and get creative with new recipes to use what’s left in the fridge. And set yourself small goals, for example, no shopping for a week, or only buying perishables when you can see the back of your kitchen pantry.

make do and repair things when you can.

It’s also very tempting just to throw out items from around your home when they break or play up, but the consequence of such convenience is the ever-growing landfill it produces. Instead, why not look at how you can repair items and extend their lifespan? Mending and repairing things can be really satisfying. Or, if you’re not the handiest person in the world, why not try a repair centre like your local Men’s Shed before you abandon something to the rubbish bin. They repair broken items for people, run workshops on how to fix things, and also collect unwanted household items and find new homes for them.

Minimise plastic and packaging around the home.

Avoid plastic where possible and look at more sustainable alternatives for use around the home. For example, why not use glass jars to store things in the fridge? They make perfect leftover containers, especially if you’re avoiding using plastic. And while you’re at it, try swapping out cling wrap for beeswax wraps and re-usable containers to cover food. And of course, avoid single-use plastics like straws and plastic water bottles.

Change one space at a time.

Look around each room in your house and see how you can reduce its environmental impact, beginning with the kitchen. Start by selling or giving away old appliances you no longer use, which take up space that you could put to better use. And if you have a cupboard groaning with platters you rarely use, consider giving them away too, and instead make do with a few lovely ones that you treasure.

The bathroom and laundry are next. Buy your shampoo in bulk, or better still, buy it from grocers that allow you to bring your own containers. Use soap, not shower gel – that’s one less bottle. Laundry powder can also be bought in bulk, and again, use grocers that will let you bring in your own container.

Out and about.

Always take a reusable coffee cup when you buy your morning cup. Try a Keep Cup, or simply take a coffee mug with you. Many cafes will fill a normal coffee mug these days. So try this with your local barista.

When shopping, also spend some time considering how often you accept packaging when you don’t really need to and come prepared. Try to shop at places that encourage you to bring your own bags and containers and carry a fold-up bag in your handbag or keep bags in your car. The trick is remembering to take them with you. This will help ensure you only buy what you need and encourage you to plan better.

Establish a veggie garden.

There are many benefits to growing your own fruit, vegetables, and herbs. It’s healthy, saves you money on groceries, and there’s great satisfaction in eating food you’ve grown yourself. Regardless of where you live, there are many ways you can integrate a veggie patch into your living space – from planting vegetables into your existing garden, to vertical planters, pots and raised garden beds.

To get started, identify where you’d like to set up your veggie garden. Look for an area that gets a generous amount of sunlight each day, is near a water source and has good soil. Then consider what you’d like to grow (based on what’s in that season) and how you’d like to lay it out. A visit to a local nursery should help you get all the right tools and advice to help make it happen.

Install your own rainwater tank.

Put rainwater to good use, save water, reduce stormwater runoff and cut down your mains water use by installing a rainwater tank in your home. Available in a wide range of sizes, materials (metal, plastic, fibreglass etc.) and styles (freestanding, custom etc.), you’ll be able to find the right type of tank for your yard and needs. Rainwater tanks for outdoor use are among the most common and easiest to install. This sees rainwater used outside for tasks like watering the garden and washing your car. Talk to your local council to ensure you don’t need any approvals or if you’re eligible for a water tank rebate.

Make your home more energy efficient.

Making your home more energy efficient will not only help the environment and cut back on your carbon footprint, but it will also save you money on your energy bills. There are many ways, small and large, that you can do this including:

  • Choosing energy-efficient appliances;
  • Installing insulation in your roof and walls;
  • Double-glazing windows;
  • Using heating and cooling wisely, such as closing doors and shutters to keep in heat when it’s cold and keep spaces cool when it’s hot;
  • Practicing energy-efficient habits, for example, having shorter showers, turning off lights when you’re not in a room, using short cycles on the dishwasher, and hanging clothes outside instead of using a dryer; and
  • Using solar power where possible, for example, a solar hot water system.

So many Aussies are already helping us win the war on waste. From your kitchen to your garden to your garage and your purchasing decisions, even the smallest individual changes you make to your habits will lead to a dramatic reduction in how much waste you produce. And we’ll all be the better for it.