Here are some frightening statistics. Australians use over 10 million plastic bags a day, and 85% of soft plastics from bags and packaging ends up in landfill. Australia is also ranked fifth highest in terms of generating the most city-based waste in the world, and our waste is growing at double the rate of our population, with over 52 megatonnes generated in our country every year!
But we can all do our bit towards curbing the ‘war on waste’. Here are our top 5 tips for effective waste management in your home.
#1 – Re-think
One effective waste management tip you can employ in the home is to use things you own until they are either finished, unusable or broken. Then when it’s time to replace them, ask yourself whether you really need another. If the answer is yes, then try and opt for a more environmentally friendly alternative.
Buying items in bulk, long-life items or concentrated products can not only help reduce packaging waste, but it uses less energy to transport, which can therefore save on natural resources. You should also re-think your decision to buy cheap, disposable products. Instead, choose high quality items that will not only work for longer, they’ll save you having to contemplate the best way of disposing of them in the future.
When it comes to electrical items and white goods, do your research and try and choose products with a greater life expectancy. The Queensland government’s Equipment Energy Efficiency (E3) program can assist consumers with improving the energy efficiency (and therefore environmental awareness) of a range of equipment and appliances, and their Energy Rating app offers sound advice and can help you with your purchasing decisions.
#2 – Reduce
Another one of our useful waste management tips is to reduce the amount of packaging that you both purchase and use. Try and avoid grocery items in pre-packaged containers, purchase items in packaging that is readily recycled, and most importantly, say no to plastic bags! The majority of these little nasties end up in landfill and many of them in our oceans. Thankfully, the Queensland government’s plastic bag ban comes into effect on July 1 this year, which will mean retailers are no longer able to supply lightweight, single-use plastic shopping bags to consumers.
However, plastic ‘barrier bags’ (the ones that are available for use with perishable foods like fruit), will still be available. Pre-plan your grocery shopping and substitute these for reusable bags like cotton, string and ‘green’ bags, and place cold items in reusable ‘freezer’ bags that can be easily stored in the car boot and used again and again.
Another smart way of reducing waste is to say no to disposable coffee cups (buy your own re-usable one), and to refrain from buying bottled water. Plastic water bottles are a huge waste of both energy and resources, so always carry a refillable bottle with you (in the car, at home and at work), and top up when you need to.
#3 – Re-use
The term ‘re-use’ can be defined as recovering value from an item to avoid reprocessing or re-manufacturing it, and many believe it provides greater savings in terms of resource consumption than even recycling. In terms of methods of waste management, there are a range of items that can be re-used from books and clothing to furniture, tools and appliances. Second hand stores and garage sales are particularly useful when it comes to either buying or selling items for re-use.
Jars, bottles and takeaway containers can also be re-used and are a great alternative to disposable wrappings, and things like rechargeable batteries and multi-use items like hankies (rather than tissues) can help reduce waste and also landfill.
#4 – Recycle
Yep, the big one. Recycling. In terms of methods of waste management, using those multi-coloured bins we all have in our backyards is one of the easiest, most effective ways of reducing waste. Acceptable items for our yellow-topped recycling bins include paper, newspapers, milk and juice cartons, aluminium cans and glass bottles.
Kerbside collections are also a great way of recycling unwanted ‘stuff’ – the Brisbane City Council offers annual services across the city, with collections held on specific weeks for different suburbs. Check out the website for more information on how to download their app where you can sign up for free alerts.
Or there is the option of heading to your local resource recovery centre where you can offload bigger items, whether they be of the general or green waste variety. Local councils also offer a variety of recycling and waste services, and drop-off options for items like batteries and toxic materials.
Have a lot of green waste you need to get rid of? The BCC’s green waste bins are also an effective waste management tool, and acceptable items include leaves, branches, prunings, flowers and grass clippings. An even better option for green waste is composting. Creating an effective composting system is actually a lot easier than you think, and even the most basic system will not only enrich your garden, but help the environment as well. Or what about a worm farm? Worm farms not only create valuable fertiliser, they are also a great way of disposing of organic waste like kitchen scraps and a great environmental project for the kids as well!
#5 – Re-educate
Finally, an important component of dealing with and reducing waste is about re-education. Most of us are aware of the basics of recycling, however we also all lead busy lives so often forget about its importance in terms of looking after our environment. Effective waste management starts at home, so make sure you and your family are committed to sorting your rubbish properly, and trying to purchase products that are environmentally friendly.
Re-education is also relevant in our schools and work places. Support school recycling systems, educate your children about responsible litter control, and become properly informed about the potential for both waste minimisation and recycling.
Need an effective waste management service that’s bigger than a bin? Get in touch with the experts at Cutters Skips today on 0417 644 901.
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