Tread Lightly

“They just don’t make things like they use to”, I mutter to myself all too often and I thought that was my parent’s era that couldn’t get over that one. But everyday I become more astounded by nothing lasting and how we have all happily accepted this ‘disposable’ lifestyle that is clearly costing us a bomb.

Our desire to have ‘new’ and to keep up with the latest technology along with our coffee culture that produces endless disposable cups and coffee pods are all adding to our extraordinary waste problem. Waste is not just bulging out of our limited landfills and polluting our natural environment, but we are now dealing with deadly toxins being released into the environment through e-waste disposal.

Waste management

We throw things away but you can see there is no ‘away’

Sue Williams, documentary maker of Death by Design screening at the Environmental Film Festival on 6 October, explores the impact of this constant upgrading of our iPhones when Apple releases a new model every 2 years (iPhone 7 was released this week). Getting caught up with having the latest when the current mobile still works is again adding to our growing waste problem. The documentary shows piles of e-waste being burnt, releasing lethal toxins like lead and cadmium. Shocking stuff.

Although my other half Simon may seem like a Luddite in this digital age (or just tight) as he carries around his iPhone 4, he doesn’t see the point of upgrading when this phone works almost perfectly fine. He even dropped it in the sink full of water the other day but got it working again. They don’t make iPhones like that anymore! So there is something to be said about fighting the urge to follow the trend, as it will help reduce our waste problem as well as save some bucks.

I was inspired reading about sisters Melati and Isabel Wijsen in the Good Weekend on 3rd September. They live in Bali and when they were 12 and 10 respectively they started a campaign to reduce the island’s growing rubbish problem. It was so bad there that US surfing champion Kelly Slater was quoted in the article from a tweet he made in 2012, “If Bali doesn’t #DoSomething serious about its pollution, it’ll be impossible to surf here in a few years. Worst I’ve ever seen”. Clearly when we throw things away, they actually don’t go away.

Single use plastic bags

Single use plastic bags causing terrible pollution problems world-wide

Three years on and the sisters have been successful at making Bali a single use plastic bag free zone and they are now going international with their Bye Bye Plastic Bags campaign. I want to be just like them when I grow up!

I’ve reflected on my own behaviours and I’m far from perfect but I know I’ve made lots of changes to date. I will endeavor to make even more as I continue to build my awareness of the growing problems our lifestyle habits are causing. What I have learnt and put into practice so far that is really doable by all of us is:

  1. Conscious Purchasing – Asking myself ‘do I really need this’ and making better environmental choices about my purchases. I’m even down to purchasing toothbrushes made from bamboo. Instead of my old toothbrush ending up in landfill where it will take an eternity to breakdown, I now use my old toothbrushes for kindling to start my fire.

Biodegradable toothbrushes designed by an Australian company

  1. Reuse – So many things have been replaced with disposable options. The best way to deal with this is by refusing to use them and instead opt for reusable shopping bags, coffee cups, water bottles…the list goes on. Even Simon’s iPhone 4 was a ‘hand-me-down’. Better to reuse where you can than buying new.
Plastic Bag Free

Reusable bags help eliminate polluting plastic bags out of your shopping experience

  1. Compost – Don’t send precious resources like food and garden waste to landfill. Start composting or get yourself a worm farm and manage your own waste on-site, helping your garden to flourish.

Food waste from Christmas can be composted into garden gold

When looking for inspiration to write this blog, I took my dog Wally for a walk through Cornish Hill, in Daylesford. On my travels I enjoyed the rubbish free, pristine environment as well as good conversation with local folks I crossed paths with along the way. We are very lucky here but we can’t ever lose sight that we too could end up like Bali.

Just remember gang – less is more.

Until next time…..Michelle