Keeping Australia clean after Clean Up Australia Day
Have you ever wanted to participate in Clean Up Australia Day but you miss it each year? Madeline Sheehan takes you through ways you can make a difference to Australia’s environment every day.
With the first Sunday of March creeping up on us, we are once again reminded to keep our country clean on Clean Up Australia Day. This is not only an opportunity to participate in events near you, but to educate ourselves a little more on a topic we can never know enough about.
Waste has severe and detrimental impacts on ecosystems, human health, and contributes to climate change; so, why should we dedicate only one day a year to such an important task? I’m here to discuss five budget-friendly ways you can reduce waste every single day.
1. Make the most out of your fresh veggies
According to the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, food waste is responsible for 3% of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. Why not get creative with your food scraps? Try saving your veggie scraps and make your own stock! Just boil them with some salt for about an hour, strain your stock and freeze into containers for future use. Afterwards, you can put your scraps into a worm farm or a compost bin. Not only is compost good for your garden, but it also reduces methane production from your food scraps.
2. Rotate the food in your fridge
Have you ever dug through your fridge to find a mouldy block of cheese and leftover takeaway you don’t remember having? OzHarvest dedicated an entire campaign to forgotten fridge food and it’s easy to see why: things often get forgotten at the back of the fridge, not to be seen for months. Learning to regularly rotate my fridge was the best thing I ever did. Such a simple task is easily overlooked. This means you aren’t accidentally buying things you already have, and you won’t waste things that would otherwise be forgotten. You could even discover a fun new recipe you haven’t tried before!
3. UNSA’s Free Food Friday:
According to OzHarvest, about 70% of the 7.6 million tonnes of food wasted each year is entirely edible. Luckily, UNSA has partnered with OzHarvest to bring you Free Food Fridays; Every Friday at 9 am, students at the Callaghan campus can pick up free bags of groceries that would have otherwise been wasted. This is a great opportunity for those on a budget who want to help eliminate food waste.
4. Use shampoo and conditioner bars
My absolute favourite finds of 2021 were shampoo and conditioner bars – they are literally ‘soap’ bars for your hair. Like many others, I was sceptical at first, but when I found out how much water and packaging can be saved and how economic these bars were, I knew I had to try them. These bars last forever and often come with recyclable cardboard packaging – your wallet and the environment will thank you!
5. Recycle your soft plastics
Whether it’s because of your budget or due to product availability, purchasing products packaged in soft plastic is sometimes unavoidable. Although plastic waste can have severe impacts on the environment, unavoidable plastic waste is not a lost cause. Luckily, programs like REDcycle allow us to easily recycle our soft plastics ensuring they are kept out of the environment. So far, over 900 million pieces of plastic have recycled, which can be used to create footpaths, fence posts and more.
We even have spots on campus where you can find soft plastic bins!
While Clean Up Australia Day is a great opportunity to act on the country’s waste problem, the real difference starts with reducing the amount of rubbish we produce in the first place. Although this may seem like an overwhelming task, the list of strategies above are a good start. If you can, use this list to challenge yourself and find other ways to reduce waste in your life. But overall, just do what you can: one small change is better than no change at all.