Five small changes that have a big environmental impact

Do you want to do more to protect our precious planet but don't know where to start? Do you feel that life is too busy or that it takes too much effort to make any impact?

You're not alone, but making a positive environmental impact need not be hard. Here are five things you can do right now that, over time, will make a big difference.

1. Use a reusable coffee cup

Contrary to popular belief, in many council areas, takeaway coffee cups cannot be simply popped into the recycle bin*. Standard take-away cups are lined on the inside with a plastic film, making them notoriously difficult to recycle. Recycling streams are often contaminated by supposedly ‘compostable’ or ‘biodegradable’ cups and lids. The problem is, to compost these cups, you need to wait for the paper to break down and then pick out the pieces of plastic – and really, who has time for that? It's a problem that needn't exist! Doesn't it make a whole lot more sense to use a reusable cup? Haven't got one? We can help. Pop in to our Yarraville shop to see our full range of Keep Cups and Frank Green cups.

*Do check your local council guidelines though, as each have different technology available to process waste.

2. Choose un-packaged fruit and veggies

And the best way to do this is to shop at your local green-grocer where veggies are stacked in lovely piles, free from plastic and styrofoam. Better yet, take along your own reusable produce bags. You can easily make your own from light mesh fabric, or buy some ready-made bags. Our favourites are Fregie Sacks. Vote with your feet. Choose un-packaged produce. 

3. Hold off on the phone upgrade

It's the end of your 24 month contract and you've just got an email from your phone service provider offering you a shiny new phone and a new contract for you to sign. STOP!!! Is your phone still working? Yes? Well, I'm going to just say it as it is... You do NOT need a new phone.

"But it's got such a nice camera! Why can't I have it? WHYYYY!?" I can hear you whining. 

Here's why... Many components of mobile phones are toxic! Arsenic, lithium, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury and zinc are all found in that little pocket warmer of yours. These poisonous substances can leach from decomposing waste in landfills, seep into groundwater and contaminate the soil. Metals build up in the soil, can then enter the food chain and make people sick! 

But it's not just the dumping of mobile phones that is problematic. The production of new mobile phones contributes to climate change by using up energy and virgin materials which release greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. It is estimated that up to 90% of these greenhouse gases can be saved by recycling materials from mobile phones. So... think before you upgrade. And if you do really truly need a new phone, find a responsible way to dispose of your old one (we can help you there!) and think about sourcing a second hand phone.

4. Buy higher quality, less often

Say no to cheap, poorly made, fast fashion. Figure our what suits you and choose items that are made locally, ethically and with good quality materials. These items may cost you more, but if you buy something once and use it for years, it's actually really good value. 

'If you buy a fast fashion $4 T-shirt, there is a greater cost, what you could call the true cost when you take in to account production and disposal? One striking fact according to WWF is that it takes 2,700 litres of water to make one cotton T-shirt, that’s enough for one person to drink for 900 days.' (Via @abctv's War on Waste.) 

You could also shop second hand! We are constantly amazed at the beautiful clothes that are donated for us to sell in our retail shops. Even designer threads and brand new clothes! 

5. Don't let your e-waste end up in landfill

Where do you send your computers, printers and cables when they're no longer useful? It's a tough one because you can't just pop them in the recycle due to the fact that they're made up of multiple materials, many of which are toxic. We were so disturbed by the amount of e-waste ending up in landfill or being sent overseas to third world countries, that we started our corporate collections service. We deliver cages to be filled with all sorts of office waste, we then collect the waste and find the best possible solution for all the items. No need for sorting, we do that for you. It's all part of the service. Businesses feel good about paying us to take away their waste because, not only do we deal with the waste responsibly, we provide employment and training to refugees and other people who have faced disadvantage and other barriers to employment. 

So there you have it, these are not difficult changes to make, but they definitely make a big impact for people and the planet. We'd love to hear what changes you're making for a more sustainable future.