Eco-Friendly Living: Reducing Waste

The average Australian produces nearly 650kg of waste per year. In order to reduce this amount, we need to think about specific ways to combat mindless wastage. I started to cut down on unnecessary plastic around a year ago; I realised that my laziness and ignorance was excruciatingly damaging to the environment.

So, who generates the most waste?

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Not surprisingly, highly developed nations account for 44% of the Earth’s waste. The United States, China, Brazil, Japan and Germany are the leading trash generators.

Thankfully, Australia isn’t in trouble. The U.S, however, produced about 228 million tonnes of waste in 2006; a figure that climbed to 254 tons by 2013. China (with a population around four times larger than that of the U.S.) is close behind, with 190 million tonnes of waste per year.

It comes down to the awareness of the individual and the small changes that can make the biggest difference. Here are some tips that you can implement into your daily life:

Number One – Reduce your daily waste.

One of the easiest ways to reduce waste is to use reusable bagswater bottles and coffee cups. This step requires little to no effort.

  • Reusable Bags: Woolworths is currently giving out 3.2 billion lightweight plastic bags per year. Keeping reusable bags in the back of your car can ultimately reduce a massive amount of waste in the form of plastic bags. These reusable produce bags are also super convenient for fruits and veggies.
  • Reusable Drink Bottles: Worldwide, nearly 3 million tonnes of plastic are used to bottle water every year. Simply buying a stainless steel drink bottle allows you to refill and wash your bottle regularly – think of all the plastic bottles you’re saving from going to landfill!
  • Reusable Coffee Cups: Believe it or not, paper coffee cups can’t be recycled properly. 500 billion disposable coffee cups are produced globally each year. Australia uses 1 billion of these, and 90% end up in landfill. These KeepCups are the best way to reduce the waste from your morning coffee.
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@sustainabilityoverselfies – Onya Reusable Produce Bags

Number Two – Avoid buying for convenience.

According to Food Wise, Australians discard up to TWENTY PERCENT of the food they purchase. Crazy, right? On a slightly larger scale, Australians waste FOUR MILLION tonnes of food per year.

  • Cooking at home: Our food waste is rising at a rapid rate. One of the best ways to reduce waste is by sourcing whole, local ingredients to make your daily meals. Wherever possible, buy in large quantities to avoid excess waste.
  • Avoiding single-use items: Disposable utensils, individually wrapped items and single-serve containers are simply crafted for a quick fix or convenience. Take five extra minutes in the morning to pre-pack your lunch – you’ll save money in the long run.

Number Three – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

We’ve all heard it. Sometimes we forget, and that’s okay.

  • Reduce: Avoid unnecessary purchases! Buy only what you need.
  • Reuse: My pantry has changed drastically since I started reusing glass jars. Start with pasta, grains, nuts etc. – over time you’ll put anything and everything into cute jars. Trust me.
  • Recycle: The big one – and by far the easiest to follow. Recycling is an important factor in conserving natural resources and greatly contributes towards improving the environment.  Many materials can be recycled, such as paper, plastic, metal and glass. Did you know that around 66 percent of energy can be saved by producing plastic products from recycled plastics instead of virgin materials? Think twice before you throw out that tub of yoghurt.

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The reality is that we, as individuals, truly have the power to make a change. Through being mindful of what we consume/purchase, each one of us can play a part in saving our planet.

Thanks for reading,

Liv x

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For The Love Of Meat?

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“I had no idea that there were any environmental factors that were damaging in meat production”

“It’s disturbing”

“No one thinks about that sort of thing”

“That picture is far from the supermarket”

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These were some of the responses after witnessing the extent of land clearing for cattle farming in central Queensland, Australia. Approximately 40 football fields worth of land are cleared for cattle grazing, every single hour.

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Matthew takes to the street to ask people some questions. Were you aware of land clearing? “Somewhat. But not to that extent.”

Food critic and gourmet farmer Matthew Evans takes a fresh look at Australia’s insatiable appetite for meat, and what it is doing to the environment, our health, and the animals themselves.

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Watch Here – SBS On Demand.

SBS’s For The Love Of Meat (episode 3) follows a single cow through the process of grazing, rapidly growing and being carved up for cuts of meat. Along the way, Evans finds out some shocking facts about how damaging beef production is to the environment.

Worldwide, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the average person consumes 34 kilograms of meat per year.

This following stat shocked me.

In Australia, the average person consumes 90 kilograms of meat per year, thus crowning Australia as the second largest meat consuming nation on the planet (behind the USA).

So what exactly is our love for beef doing to the environment? Well, it isn’t good. Firstly, more than half of Australia’s land is used for grazing livestock. That’s an insane amount of land being used for our lazy day BBQ’s and weekly dose of spaghetti bolognese.

Most of the debris from land clearing is burnt, which has consequently doubled Queensland’s greenhouse gas emissions since 2011. Not good. Furthermore, 600 Aussie animal species are suffering as a result of extensive land clearing. Okay, still not good. Lastly, due to the spread of cattle grazing, polluted streams of Queensland are leading to the demise of our oceans, but more specifically, our already suffering Great Barrier Reef. Definitely not good.

However, there are some viable solutions to the growing concern of animal agriculture sustainability within Australia. It all comes down to simple education and a willingness to change our habits.

Solution One. Lead a more plant based diet.

You’ll notice that I put ‘more’ in italics. This is because for many people, cutting out meat entirely isn’t an option. But, there is no excuse not to try. It’s not about cutting it out entirely, it’s about being aware of the process and reducing our overall intake (at least to match the average of the rest of the world, come on guys).

Here are some quick stats from the CSIRO Animal, Food and Health Sciences Research Centre.

Lentils and bread produce 1kg of greenhouse gases (GHG’s) for every 1kg of product.

Chicken, 3kg of GHG’s for every 1kg. Pork, 6kg for every 1kg.

Lastly, Beef produces a whopping 25kg of GHG’s for every 1kg produced.

This takes into consideration all parts of the process. So, you can see that cutting out weekly portions of meat will make a difference.

Solution Two. Nose to tail philosophy.

Ever heard of it? The nose to tail philosophy basically encourages the utilisation of the whole animal. It urges us to respect the deceased animal’s life, which echoes the Native American practice of hunting buffalo in a sacred manner to feed a whole tribe, while wasting little of the animal in the process.

Some of the most in demand cuts of beef are also the smallest parts, such as rib eye and scotch fillet. From a 500kg cow, roughly 4kg’s of rib eye is produced. That’s a crazy amount of waste when the majority of the other parts are ignored, such as the liver and kidneys, or offal. Interestingly, Nutritionist Karen Inge believes that offal contains a higher amount of iron, zinc and essential vitamins compared to the actual flesh.

Again, it’s about eating smart and eating for the planet. I believe that as a society, we are quite disconnected from where our food comes from, especially meat. If we all took some time to educate ourselves and consider the long term implications, we may be able to reverse some of the incredibly damaging effects of animal agriculture.

Please watch Matthew Evan’s For The Love Of Meat. You won’t regret it!

Thanks for reading,

Liv x

Climate Change. Where To Begin?

Ah, climate change. The topic that many Australian politicians can’t seem to grasp.

Last September, Liberal National Party senator Ian Macdonald told the federal parliament that Australia’s children have been “brainwashed” about human-induced climate change, which he described as “a fad or a farce or a hoax” and “farcical and fanciful”.

Don’t even get me started on One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts.

Just for fun, I’ll include a quick video. It features Professor Brian Cox and Malcolm Roberts on a Q&A episode focussed on climate change.

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I remember watching this particular episode one night with my sister. I was completely shocked and somewhat furious. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it’s hard to accept one’s opinion when it blindly contradicts a mountain of research led by esteemed scientists and activists.

I personally believe that it is the responsibility of any Earth dweller to be educated on ways we can help to improve our home. This involves coming to terms with some harsh realities, and even some consequences.

Collectively, we are beginning to acknowledge that our dependence on fossil fuels – that has been harming our economy and environment for decades – must come to an end. The question today is no longer why, but how.

Therefore, for this blog post, I’ll be sharing with you a few of my favourite documentaries, talks and YouTube videos that will give you a better understanding of the topic.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.

How could I not include Cowspiracy? It’s quite easily the most life changing piece of work I’ve ever witnessed. Directors Kip Andersen and Keeghan Khun investigate the alarming rate at which animal agriculture is destroying our planet. The best thing about this documentary is that Kip Andersen, the leading man, is just an ordinary guy.

Determined to find the truth, he followed his curiosity. It led to the project gaining worldwide success, as well as the help of executive producer and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio. Available on Netflix.

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Kip Andersen – Sacred Space Project.

Chasing Ice.

Chasing Ice is visually stunning. The documentary follows James Balog and his team on the Extreme Ice Survey installing cameras within the world’s rapidly melting ice glaciers. The best thing about this documentary is seeing the team’s whole process; the struggles, the disappointment, and the achievements.

It’s inspiring to witness the team overcome so many technical problems and malfunctions to produce one of the most renowned climate change documentaries of all time. Watch trailer here.

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Chasing Ice.

Johnathan Foley: The Other Inconvenient Truth.

Fact: Animal agriculture covers 40 percent of Earth’s land. This TED talk explores the complex relationship between global environmental systems and human civilization. Dr. Foley analyses devastating changes in land use, ecosystems and resources around the world. This TED talk is rich in facts, diagrams and detailed maps to show how animal agriculture will destroy the planet as our population rises.

It’s an eye opening view of how our insatiable (and growing) love for meat is quickly becoming an unsustainable practice that ultimately needs to change. Watch here.

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Jonathan Foley at TEDxTC, 2010.

In another blog post I’ll show my favourite documentaries and YouTubers who inspired me to go vegan. Because, essentially, leading a plant based lifestyle will help curb the growing consequences of animal agriculture, thus mitigating the effects of climate change and reducing our carbon footprint!

Thanks for reading,

Liv x