As flagged in my previous post, Australia has had a devastating summer with hundreds of bush fires burning across the country. While I have not been directly impacted by an actual fire, it has nonetheless been a stressful time. It’s pretty clear that a climate-change-induced-dry-summer has resulted in these fires being much worse than they would have otherwise been, and its forced me to stop, think and reflect. The question that’s been on my mind a lot lately is: Am I doing everything I can to reduce my carbon footprint and help the environment?
While I have always been one to turn off the lights when leaving a room, have short showers, ride my bike where possible and recycle paper and cardboard, it’s no longer the early 2000’s when this stuff was deemed revolutionary. It’s 2020, and there’s always more to be done. I read somewhere that when you are feeling hopeless or helpless, which I sometimes do with the state of the world, the best thing you can do is do something.
How I plan on doing something is implementing two sustainable practices I’ve learned more about this past year; worm farms and recycling soft plastics. While I would love to install a rainwater tank, solar panels and heck, live off the grid, I know I can’t do everything, especially when I’m renting. For now, I’ve found setting up two ‘other’ bins in my kitchen to be an easy way to do my bit.
Other Bin # 1 – Compost for a worm farm
Late last year I reached a point where I was tired of throwing my fruit and vegetable scraps in the rubbish bin. I decided it was time to start composting, and in turn reduce my carbon footprint. With the help of my own compost-savvy mother, I have set up a worm farm in my own backyard. While my housemates and I are a mere two weeks into this new venture, I am already feeling satisfied that my banana peels and veggie scraps are being put to better use.
The practice of keeping a worm farm is as simple as collecting food scraps in the kitchen in a small compost bin, and taking them outside to a worm farm roughly once a week. Once the worms have chewed through enough soil and food, they produce ‘worm juice’. This in turn creates a great fertilizer, to turn your garden green and leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, just like the worms probably felt when they were producing that juice (it’s their pee!).
There are heaps of resources on the internet which can show you how to make your own worm farm, and how it benefits the environment. Sustainable Gardening Australia is a good place to start.
Other Bin # 2 – Soft plastics
Keeping with things I was tired of throwing in the rubbish bin, I have started to collect what are known as ‘soft plastics’. This means any plastic that can be ‘scrunched’, including bread bags, frozen food bags, biscuit wrappers and other soft food packaging.
In Australia we are lucky to have a soft plastic recycling program called redcycle. This program collects soft plastic and turns it into recycled-plastic products such as signage, benches and outdoor gym equipment. According to their website, the redcycle group has collected enough pieces of soft post-consumer packaging to circle the world over three times. How incredible is that?
If you are wondering where to take your soft plastic, there are redcycle drop off stations at supermarkets across the country, and you can find your closest one by visiting the redcycle website. With a few close to my house, I’ve got no excuse to be throwing plastic into the main rubbish bin.
If there’s one thing I can say about having a worm farm and collecting soft plastics, is that it really is easy. Once you are set up, the routine will fall into place and you’ll forget a time when you didn’t have these ‘other’ bins in your kitchen. With a few small steps, you too can be on your way to reducing your carbon footprint and making a positive contribution to our planet’s future.