Climate change has been a hot topic lately. Being in Sydney during the bush fires I’ve been witnessing it first hand and it’s really terrible. I’ve noticed some differences between Australia and the US right of the bat.
In Australia you mostly air dry laundry and many people don’t even own a tumble dryer. I don’t think I’ve seen a single paper towel in homes/residences, only dish towels. Plastic straws and bags have almost been completely eradicated. In my almost three months here I think I was only served a drink with a plastic straw once. Most stores have additional costs if you need a plastic bag at check out. Refillable water stations are everywhere, especially by the beach, and businesses don’t scoff if you ask them to refill your bottle.
I’d like to think that I do my best to do my part in reducing my carbon footprint as much as possible, but I decided for the next month to actually track it. You may think what difference can one person make? Isn’t it better to start taking steps than none at all? I saw a post on Instagram the other day that said if every American skipped meat and cheese one day a week for a year that impact would be taking 7.6 million cars off the road. That’s huge! Over 7 million cars off the road if we don’t eat meat or cheese 52 out of the 365 days a year?! Count me in. One person’s choices may seem small, but change has to start somewhere. Minimizing your plastic use and taking small steps to being more plastic-free does make a difference.
Here are some small steps anyone can take:
Water. I’ve been using a refillable water bottle for years. I drink a ridiculous amount of water daily so if not for the earth this makes sense for my wallet. I misplaced my water bottle for a day last week and felt totally lost. Don’t worry I bought a new one ASAP.
Straws. You can carry around your own reusable straw or at the very least opt out of a straw when ordering out.
Reusable bag. One of my last minute adds while packing for Australia was a reusable canvas bag that I got for free at an event. This has actually become my most worn daily item. I bring it to the beach, grocery shopping, activities, etc. It’s always on me.
Coffee cup. Single use coffee cups are usually made of paper, but the top is almost always plastic. I finally invested a reusable cup while in Manly.
Cars. I obviously don’t have a car here in Australia and I try to walk as much as possible. If I can’t walk I’ll use public transportation (bus or trains). I’ve been avoiding using Uber unless it’s super late, I have luggage, or I’m riding with someone else.
Week 1 Eco Tracking
Sunday – I finish coconut yogurt I had in the fridge for breakfast and unfortunately it was in plastic container, but I had it before I started this tracking so I’ll give myself a break. I walk next door for a coffee and it’s my first time using my new cup. I take the bus, ferry, and then trains to my hotel. This evening I went out to pizza with my friends, but I had a vegan (pumpkin) pizza. No meat or cheese for me today so that’s my contribution to the 7.6 million cars off the road (above). I turned down plastic cutlery with my dessert.
Plastic use – coconut yogurt container.
Monday – I’m flying to New Zealand today. I use a plastic bag I have from home to pack some wet clothes. I also take the travel size toiletries from my hotel. At breakfast at the airport they serve me a plastic knife before I had the chance to tell them not to, but I use my reusable coffee cup. On the flight I’m served water in a plastic cup and I reuse the same cup for my refills. The flight also had headphones for use and they came in a plastic wrap. I didn’t have meat today, but I did have cheese.
Plastic use – plastic bag, knife, cup, and wrapper.
Tuesday – plastic gum wrapper and finished some travel size toiletries. No meat but I did eat cheese.
Wednesday – finished travel size shampoo. No meat.
Thursday – finished milk container, tooth paste tube, finished shower gel, straw/plastic top with smoothie during lunch, and Kinder egg/toy.
Friday – plastic fork at dinner, but it was marked as “eco friendly.”
Saturday – same plastic fork (well not the same fork, but we went back to the same shop so had the same brand of forks) from fish and chip shop that is marked as “eco friendly.”
I think Week 1 was pretty good. I was really conscious and tried to avoid as much plastic as I could. All the bottles and food I already had so using them up was a priority. I find that when you’re traveling that’s the hardest time being consistent in anything – healthy eating, working out, being eco friendly, etc., but really that’s not an excuse because the planet isn’t taking a vacation.