Opportunities for Impact
After seeing the film 2040 recently I wanted to share small, positive ways we can all have an impact on our beautiful planet. This helps me (and I hope you too) to realise that although there is a lot of negativity right now about the future of the environment, we can be part of the positive change!
Tips for an Eco-Christmas!
Eek, it can be super hard to be environmentally friendly at Christmas - wrapping paper, food waste, tinsel, plastic toys for the kids... but as you're already amazing shoppers buying local, ethical, handmade, here are a few other tips to make Christmas a bit more eco-friendly.
1. Either source a sustainably grown Christmas tree or buy a good artificial Christmas tree that you can keep forever!
This is pretty self-explanatory, avoid buying trees that are cut down willy-nilly or buy once buy well an artificial tree.
2. Think about gift wrap
A good plan is to use gift bags or boxes that you can then reuse or brown paper that is recycled and can then be recycled again. Or use newspaper - get the kids to paint on it, or fabric and wrap them Japanese style!
3. Recycle everything
Gift wrap, Christmas cards, packaging from toys/batteries, wine bottles... have the recycling bin as empty as you can in advance ready to load it in!
4. Use eco Christmas crackers/bon bons, or just don't have them
Can we all agree we don't need the crap in bon bons - I don't need a plastic whistle, a key ring, a weird little figurine - they will be in the bin within minutes and then found in some poor turtle's belly in the future. Just don't do Christmas crackers or go eco!
5. Don't use disposable plates/cutlery etc.
I know washing up is annoying, but think of it as a bonding experience! Just don't use those plastic plates, plus how much nicer is food served on crockery (handmade ceramics if possible, hehe).
6. Source local and sustainable food
Choose food for your Christmas lunch that is in season! We are so lucky in Australia this is the ultimate fruit season so go to town on the mangoes, cherries, stone fruit. Make sure your seafood is sustainably sourced and your best bet is to go to markets to buy locally grown produce.
7. Buy once, buy well
This is the approach I think we should take all the time, but how much would we all rather one lovely, beautifully made gift than 5 crappy ones. Of course there is a bias in this as I run a values based shop, but I think buying one quality piece is always a better idea.
A concept that is discussed in the film 2040, but which took me a little time to grasp is Carbon Sequestration, another way of saying this is Carbon Dioxide Removal. This is essentially ways of reducing CO2 pollution by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and reversing global warming. AMAZING right, what an incredible thing to be able to do!
Now it gets a bit tricky here, more than my speed reading, new baby addled brain can understand. There are concepts such as post-combustion capture and many more that I'd need a scientist or geo-engineer to explain to me.
Suffice to say there are biological processes we can support that don't seem to have any ill effects, but are very positive, and can remove CO2 or greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Here is my very basic understanding of some options:
1. Peatlands or Wetlands - they store more carbon than forests and if then drained and burned release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Therefore they must be cared for and managed carefully. You can read more about it here and here, this is an area that The Climate Council has been looking at, and you can support them here.
2. Reforestation (planting trees!) - so basically from what I understand trees suck the carbon out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis and store it in their leaves, bark, trunk, roots - we just then have to be careful not to burn dead trees or leave them to rot as that re-releases the carbon. There are SO many organisations that plant trees to sequester carbon and renew soil and all other kinds of positive environmental processes. Here are a few - trees.org, one tree planted, trilliontrees.org.au and many more!
3. Seaweed/seagrass farming - by farming seaweed and seagrass in a similar way to trees they take carbon from the water to grow their roots and leaves. It is very confusing to me but you can read more here, and donate here!
I will continue my sequester carbon series next week as there is more to explore, but we can start with these three today and then I might need Nick to explain the others to me...
Plastic Reduction and Recycling
I think we all know that we have a big plastics problem the world over right now. It's hard because plastic is an amazing thing - it keeps things clean, contained, in portions... I think as a parent to young children plastic just makes life so easy - nappies, food pouches, snack food packets, oh the list goes on!
But of course the creation of plastic is problematic - requiring so much oil, and then the fact that it is so bad for the planet - slow/impossible to break down, it ends up in waterways and oceans, killing wildlife and we're eating it every day because of the way it ends up in our food supply, scary!
So, there's a myriad things we can do to reduce our plastic use - reusable nappies, keep cups, bamboo straws (or no straw), buying in bulk, water bottles etc.
There are now things you can buy to help catch micro plastics in your laundry from polyester clothes that release micro plastics - I don't have one yet, but will definitely get one!
Also, we have just got good at this, you can recycle lots of plastics now that can't go in the normal council recycling. An organisation called Red Cycle from Melbourne does just this and they helpfully have drop off points for your plastics all over Australia, including at supermarkets.
So now each week when we go to the supermarket to do the shopping (counter intuitively often buying more plastics...) we drop off all our soft plastics in the bins provided and the supermarkets then send these onto Red Cycle. We are now also doing this for the shop soon.
Obviously, the best thing to do is to drastically reduce our plastic use - and to ask companies to reduce their packaging. But when we do consume plastic, at least there is an option to reduce the harm, and make more things from these disposed plastics!
As hard as I have tried (I've watched Costa Georgiadis show me multiple times) I can't seem to build a proper compost heap, so instead we use the local community compost hub. In Brisbane this is pretty easy, you can collect a compost bin from your local city councillor, and then on the Council website there are links to community compost locations.
In some towns, cities and areas my basic research shows that the local council actually collects compost with rubbish, which is amazing!
But the best thing I found was a site called ShareWaste which is basically a site for people who want to compost and a place who want your organic matter for their compost heaps, worm farms or chickens! So good! Or you can donate little bits of money ($4) to help them do more.
So why is composting important, what does it do? Firstly it keeps organic matter out of landfill this frees up space and it stops the creation of methane gas that happens when organic matter is in an airless environment. It also enriches the soil and reduces the need for chemical fertilisers when compost is used. And it encourages the production of beneficial bacteria that breaks down organic matter and is so good for soil and good soil is the lifeblood of the planet!