We are a family of 4 and, like so many other families, we work hard to cut back on our waste. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed, trying to think of fresh ideas and new ways to improve. I decided to approach Crystal, a NW Tasmanian local. She runs her own inspirational Facebook page, that chronicles her own family’s journey and offers help and advice for those (like me!) who need it!
Crystal lives on the North-West Coast of Tasmania with her husband and two daughters (aged 7 & 4). She is a Social Worker and currently works for a private company as an EAP counsellor 1-2 days a week. The rest of the time she is a stay at home mum. Even though she is vegetarian, her husband and daughters are meat eaters. A keen cook and baker, her eldest is finding the latest sugar-free creations a little hard to deal with. Crystal is an active member of a local brass band, playing the Baritone Horn. She is a beach lover, bush walker, yoga enthusiast, keen gardener and musician.
She also engages in a zero-waste lifestyle.
I think I have always tended towards a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, but I have ramped it up in the last couple of years. This is partly due to overall improvements in my health. For many years it all seemed too hard (especially the thought of using non-disposable nappies for my girls). I started with simple things, like recycling, buying in bulk, using reusable shopping bags, not bagging all my fruit and vegetables (e.g. bananas) and taking a water bottle with me places.
It wasn’t until around 2015 that I saw a clip on Facebook. It was about Erin Rhodes – “The Rogue Ginger” – and how she fitted an entire year’s worth of rubbish into a glass jar! I was so inspired and I guess you could say that’s where my plastic free journey really began. I started following Erin on Facebook and then Plastic Free July as well. Following these Facebook pages I started to discover just how terrible plastics are for our environment. I was horrified by images of dead birds, cut open, with stomachs full of plastic rubbish. The more I learn, the more determined I become to reduce my use of unnecessary plastics, and plastic pollution.
Tips for families:
Most importantly – it’s not actually that hard to start.
Following a Facebook page or group can be an easy way to start (I like to think my page, ‘Going Plastic Free – NW Tas’ is a good one). By following a Facebook page you can find out about the strategies others are using, and get motivated and inspired. Also, you won’t feel alone on your journey towards a plastic free life.
Then, start to look at what you are throwing away each week. Pick one thing at a time and ask yourself;
When starting out:
- Can it be recycled? (Plastic packaging can be taken to the supermarket)
- Can it be composted? (Set up a compost bin in your garden)
As you become more comfortable:
- Can it be reduced? (Buy a big pack instead of individual serves)
- Can it be avoided altogether? (Avoid pre-packaged food completely)
Sharing and creating a community:
I think that sharing what I’m doing is really important. Alone my actions are small, but if I can inspire others, together we can make a big difference. That’s why I started my Facebook page ‘Going Plastic Free – NW Tas’ last October. I now have 50 followers and reach up to 350 people on some of my posts. What I love most is when people notice that I am doing things a bit differently and ask me about it. I have complete strangers stop me and ask where I got my produce bags from. The staff at the bakery have commented on how great it is that I bring my own cloth bag for the bread. I am asked about the beeswax wraps I use when I take a salad or plate of supper to a function. Hopefully, if nothing else, I’m getting people thinking.
Impacting the wider community:
I know that many of our actions are shaped by society. But I also know that individuals can shape society too. When I watch someone put bananas into a plastic bag, or drink from a takeaway coffee cup, I sometimes feel frustrated. But I think, if I can see them, they can notice me, doing things differently.
I am encouraged by what I see on social media and on TV. I’m not the only one thinking about this stuff. I just aim to get a few more people thinking. I don’t think there is an end to this journey and for me that’s really exciting.
Further tips for recycling
It’s important to spread the word and ensure people are aware, recycling is not the whole solution. It is the last option before landfill. However, there are ways to make recycling of waste more effective.
- Check out http://www.redcycle.net.au and find out about recycling soft plastics at the supermarket.
- Leave paper loose (don’t put it in a bag or tie it up with string).
- Put the lid and ring seal inside milk bottles and then rinse and squash.
- Tin cans – put the lid inside and squash and put the paper label in recycling separately.
- Collect metal beer bottle tops in a tin can, then squash top shut.
- Collect aluminium foil into a big ball and put in recycling bin (e.g. Easter egg wrappers).
- Recycle batteries, light globes and paint at the local refuse center.
- Find out about recycling E-waste. More than just a mobile muster.