When I moved to England I quickly learnt that single use plastic bags were well on the way out. All big retailers in the U.K. are required by law to charge for that type of plastic bag. Although it was never a big fee, it became something I was mindful of and I quickly purchased reusable carrier bags, one of which I ended up using on almost a daily basis. I became so attached to that one bag, it made its way back to Australia with me…
There are different laws in different states relating to plastic bags in Australia, all but one (New South Wales – where I live) will have banned the single use type bags by the end of this year.
Before I moved to England I tried diligently to cut back my plastic bag use… but when they’re free and readily available you find yourself still acquiring them at a rapid rate. My time in the U.K. was long enough, that I got into a routine of taking my carrier bags with me. I’m happy to say it’s a habit that’s stuck since returning to Australia.
The other little change I’ve started incorporating into my life, is using a reusable coffee cup. Last year a documentary series in Australia shone a light on the problem your standard disposable coffee cup creates. It stuck with me and I felt immensely guilty about all the coffee I’d consumed in those plastic lidded paper cups.
I was given a reusable coffee cup through my work a number of years ago. It sat on my desk gathering dust and I’d always forget to take it with me whenever I wanted a coffee on the run. When I unpacked my boxes of ‘work stuff’ a few months back, I pulled out the reusable cup and was determined I’d make more use of it. It’s still early days, but so far so good. I’ve run out of work a few times to grab a coffee and then run back in to grab my cup when I’ve realised it’s not in my hand… but like in England with the plastic bags, I think the habit is starting to stick.
Both are only little changes, but ones I’m really glad to have made. Sometimes environmental problems can feel overwhelming – how can one person make a difference? I think though, if everyone makes just a small change, it does add up.
From next month my local council will begin an organic waste recycling initiative. We’ll have a normal rubbish bin, a recycling bin and a bin for food and organic waste. I can’t wait for the new bin system to get underway and it’ll be another way to make a small difference.
Have you made any little changes in your life to be more ‘environmentally friendly’?