This article forms part of our inaugural Agency Challenge For Change initiative. If the idea of living more sustainably is important to you, but you're stuck on where to start, then this is for you! Stay tuned as we deliver you insights and actionable tips across food, fashion, travel, and the workplace over the next four weeks, so you can make a real difference, while still living your best life.
We all want to do our best for the environment. But with the endless amount of news and tips being thrown our way it can be overwhelming to know where to start.
So today, we’re breaking it down into the simplest of swaps that you can enact right now. They’ll immediately make your home and lifestyle more sustainable, so you can sleep a little easier tonight.
#1 Give Cling Wrap The Stick
This is a super easy one that you can do straight away. Do away with nasty cling wrap and sandwich bags and look for a more sustainable version in beeswax products.
According to Be An Unfucker, "1 million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans." Let's all stop contributing to that nasty statistic in favour of wrapping up your food in something that's nature-friendly, and totally cute.
You can buy beeswax wraps in a range of sizes that will cover all of your bowls and containers, and even wrap your sandwich. A couple of local options include Bee Wrappy, Honeybee Wrap and Bee Green Wraps. Prefer something slightly sturdier? These Onya Sandwich Wraps are killer.
If you can't afford those, you can pop your half chopped up veggies, sandwiches and leftovers in the food containers you likely already have sitting in your drawers.
#2 Discover The Delicious World Of Plant-Based Eating
We're definitely not going to tell you to cut meat and dairy out of your diets for good; heck, we love a good cheeseburger as much as the next person. But, it'll make a huge impact on the planet's health, as well as our own, if we cut back a bit. And, though it might come as a surprise to some, it won't affect the enjoyment of your taste buds.
From the most delicious vegan cheese sauce we've ever tasted to the Beyond Burger which is so realistic some vegos can't even hack it, the plant-based world is buzzing with delicious options. Even Magnum has joined the trend.
If you're keen to give it a whirl, this climate-friendly diet suggests swapping one meal a day for a plant-based alternative. Why would we do this? The hard facts say that animal agriculture is the second leading cause of global warming, it contributes to 14.5% of the world's greenhouse gasses (that's a lot of cow farts), and is a whopping contributor to biodiversity loss thanks to the sheer size of land required for farming practices. On top of this, 17% of Earth's fresh water is being drunk by livestock or used to make feed.
Looking for delicious recipe ideas? These guys are our go-to. Otherwise, hit up some of the best vegan-friendly establishments in your city.
And when you are consuming meat and dairy, make earth-friendly choices by opting for grass-fed meats from smaller, local farms, and small-batch milk from nearby dairies.
#3 Shop Local
Rather than consuming imported ingredients that have been frozen and flown in from far-flung destinations, know where your food is coming from and support local growers and producers as much as possible. Check out your local farmer's markets or simply read the "product of" labels when doing your weekly shop. Those oranges are going to taste way better when they are in season, anyway.
Be sure to keep an eye out for fruit trees and community verge gardens on your neighbourhood walks too, often you can score a lemon or two to squeeze over your avo toast. Ripe Near Me lets you discover which of your neighbours is happy to share their fresh bounty.
#4 Swap Binning Leftovers For Composting
The fact of the matter is throwing your food scraps in the bin is smelly and a waste. Here's one for the office suggestion box: ask your boss to install a compost bin in the office kitchen.
If they're looking for a good system to get a compost started, tell them to take a look at the range of options from Bokashi. Or better yet, get them to sign up a local compost collector like Compost Collectors in Melbourne and have them take care of the hassle. Easy!
#5 Opt For Naked Produce
This one's a no brainer and something we wish supermarkets would get on board with, but alas, we must once again lead by example. Say no to buying bags of apples, mandarins and spinach suffocated in plastic and bring your own reusable produce bags to a. buy the exact amount you want and b. save the environment.
#6 Ban The (Plastic) Bag
It was excellent when Australia's major supermarkets banned single-use bags, but the "reusable bags" they're selling for an additional 15 cents aren't much better. Stock up on planet-friendly bags made of hessian, cotton or recyclable materials and keep at least one on you, in your car and at your desk at all times. It'll save you from doing the embarrassing avocado juggle on your way back from lunch runs.
#7 Use A Reusable
If you're not using a reusable coffee cup already, you need to start today. There are a range of options in the space including those from KeepCup, Frank Green, Sttoke, Joco, or even just take a mug from your office kitchen to the cafe. Loads of cafes offer discounts when you bring your own cup, think of the savings.
#8 Clean Up Your Coffee Habit
We all love a coffee to get us going in the morning, and if you're not into spending $4 plus for a flat white at your local cafe you're probably throwing a mug under a Nespresso machine.
The usual pods you buy in the store aren't able to be put in your recycling bin, and usually means you'll have to carry them into the store you bought them from to be recycled. Something most of us probably wouldn't end up doing, so, of course, they end up in landfill.
#9 Take Your Own Container
Many of us are used to bringing our reusable coffee cup to the cafe, but did you know loads of cafes and restaurants will pack your takeaway order straight into a BYO container? Yes, it might feel a little awkward the first few times, but you'll walk out feeling smug as hell and soon enough your friends will follow suit.
And why stop there? Pack yourself a little lunch-time kit with a knife, fork, spoon and reusable straw so you never have to use plastic cutlery again. Or buy this set made of bamboo for the ultimate light-weight snacking companion.
It's cool to care for the environment, ya'll.
#10 Cool Your Meal Delivery Jets
This one is tricky for all of us, but the fact is, food delivery services aren't super environmentally friendly. Firstly, there's the petrol emissions. Then everything usually arrives in plastic with more plastic cutlery and serviettes than you really ever need.
Cutting back on takeaway is hard, especially when we're all super busy, so alternatives include walking to the local cafe to pick up your lunch in person (preferably bringing your own container) or ordering pizza. If the cardboard box is mostly clean it can be recycled, and if not it can go in the compost. Plus, Friday pizza lunches in the office make for a pretty good way to end the week.
#11 Say No To Straws
We've all seen the horrifying images of turtles with straws stuck inside them, so next time you're at the bar order your drink sans-straw. It's as simple as that!
Apparently Australia uses more than 10,000 straws a day (see: Be An Unfucker) to do what our lips were made to do naturally. If you simply must use a straw, grab a stainless steel one and bring it with you everywhere you go.
#12 Follow The 5 Rs
Refuse, reduce, re-use (or repair), recycle and rot—in that order. By making this your mantra, you will make a huge impact on the world.
Want to commit to going plastic free? Here's where to start.
In early 2020, Urban List will be launching an always-on Sustainability vertical, serving up ways to live a more sustainable life without sacrificing the things you love most. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know more.
Image credit: Annika Kafcaloudis, Honeybee Wraps, Onya and Frank Green.