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Protecting Our Earth Starts With You

by Justine Crowley about a year ago in Sustainability
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It is our responsibility. Little things make a difference.

Protecting Our Earth Starts With You
Photo by Kasturi Laxmi Mohit on Unsplash

As our oceans cover a whopping 71% of our planet, it only makes sense that our bodies comprise of 70% water. Our mother earth is not isolated in a vacuum from us. Then again, the current climate change crisis that is making heads, is no doubt awakening us.

There are times where people may doubt that their efforts in reducing their carbon footprint will not make any difference. Yes it does, and more than any of us will ever begin to appreciate. No different to how little seeds one day grow into some blossoming flowers; our contributions (no matter how little) are enhancing mother natures smile, day in and day out.

In the spirit of gratitude for this beautiful earth, yours truly has come up with many simple, and some less obvious ways on the little things that we can all do in protecting our mother earth, and ensuring that this land of plenty is fit for generations to come. These ideas for the Wave Makers content are presented in order of brainstorming, as opposed to importance.

By Irina Iriser on Unsplash

Who knew that our daily financial decisions give us power as to where that money goes. Socially responsible banking is a thing, and banks like Bank Australia make their customers shareholders, and none of their profits are invested in dirty fossil fuels. Yours truly has an emergency savings account with this bank, and it is nice to know that the money made on this money is going to socially responsible causes. Many banks in Australia (and it could be true in your home country) are notorious for supporting fossil fuels for energy consumption.

Cleaning the home does not need to be toxic either, with hand made cleaning products, where you need none other than items such as natural lemons, water, vinegar, and bicarb soda to name. You save money, and less chemicals are used during this process; therefore friendlier for your lungs and liver, and for the earth. There are an abundance of tutorials on YouTube as to how this can be done.

Burning candles at home promotes relaxation, and at the same time you are using up less electricity, hence saving on your power bill. Furthermore, when electrical appliances (fridge aside) are not used at home; yours truly ensures that all power points are switched off, and nothing unused at the time is plugged in. During Earth Hour, all lights are switched off. The trusty candles save the day yet again. Even better, the jars can be reused to make your own candles.

By Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

Used glasses, boxes, and plastic bottles and packaging is also recycled. Many high rise apartment buildings have separate boxes for putting such items in garbage rooms, and if not, then local councils usually provide separate bins for such recycling initiatives.

Who doesn't love a bit of caffeine every now and then? That trip to the barista is better when you bring your own reusable keep cup for take away coffees. If you are lucky, some cafes (they are called Responsible Cafes in Australia) give you a small discount for bringing your own cup. There was a promotion at a nearby mall, where free coffee was available for a week upon bringing your own keep cup (or even your own mug) to participating cafes. It felt retro like, and so good for the environment. That is one less plastic lid and/or cup landing into the ocean, and perhaps killing a vulnerable animal.

By Luke Porter on Unsplash

During lockdown periods thanks to the pandemic, bringing your own keep cup was not an easy feat. In Australia, thankfully there are tubs where you can recycle any used coffee cups and plastic lids from takeaway coffees. That is what yours truly did during the two months of lockdown back in 2020. Otherwise it was fine to go without coffee during that time.

The next best thing is to enjoy your barista made coffee as a dine in customer, and that way your cup, saucer and spoon is washed in bulk at the end.

When out and about, it is fashionable to bring your own reusable water bottle, instead of buying a new plastic water bottle every time you are thirsty. You also save money, and you reduce the use of plastics that are not necessarily BPA free. Therefore your liver will thank you once more.

By Estera Nicoi on Unsplash

If yours truly needs to drink something like a milkshake, then using a paper (as opposed to a plastic) straw is the way to go. Even better, a reusable metal straw does the trick. Same with yoghurt spoons where possible. If you can drink without a straw, then even better.

If you love your nuts, bicarb soda, cereals, flour, tea leaves and chocolates to name; whole foods markets such as The Source Bulk Foods, Naked Foods and Scoop Wholefoods provide a more cost effective way of purchasing these products, where you only scoop up what you will use, and thereby reduces wastage. Even better, these items are scooped into a recycled paper bag, and you only pay for what you need. This is a nifty user pays system, and some of the loyalty programs are better than the supermarket ones. A win/win for the earth.

By Tianxiang Jee on Unsplash

It is fun using reusable shopping bags when out grocery shopping, and these days these bags can be purchased at an affordable price, with a variety of different fashionable designs available. Single use plastic bags are banned at shops in Australia. To avoid being charged for every time you need to purchase a shopping bag; remember to pack your reusable one.

Qantas is an Australian airline that allows passengers to carbon offset their trip. In other words, make your trip carbon neutral for the sake of the environment. This option only costs a few dollars extra for short flights from Sydney to Melbourne, or you can use up a small chunk of your Frequent Flyer points.

If you are after the newest smartphone, you are in luck. You get paid a decent sum of money for recycling your old, unwanted phone through phone banks like Mobile Monster. You can do the same for unwanted jewellery items, whether gold, silver, diamond, sapphire or platinum to name. Otherwise, you can always sell any other unwanted items on sites like eBay and Craigslist, or donate to charity, instead of throwing in the bin.

When it comes to getting rid of unwanted clothes and shoes, fashion chain H&M will exchange your unwanted clothing items for a 15% off voucher, where they recycle these clothing items, as part of their conscious collection.

Putting any rubbish in the bin is common sense, yet how common is common sense? People (unfortunately) do litter. Count how many cigarette butts you see on the streets, for example. Upon having participated in a few park and beach clean up projects, you will be surprised to notice how many paddle pop sticks, straws, salt and pepper sachets, balloons, plastic straw wrappers and chewed bubble gum to name you pick up in a short space of time. Lucky these items did not land into our precious oceans, and if they did, imagine those items being swallowed up by sharks, fish and whales to name? It is mind boggling. There is a company called Take 3 that encourage people to pick up three items they see, whether in the oceans or otherwise, to then put in the bin.

By Sai Charan P on Unsplash

Spay and neuter your domestic pets. That way less animals end up going to the pound and being euthanised. Only buy an animal if you are prepared to deal with the responsibilities of having a kid for 20 years. Yours truly is also an advocate for only buying beauty products that are not tested on animals, and that still smell premium and divine. Brands like The Body Shop are a force for good when it comes to climate change, and other environmental issues.

Thanks to the pandemic, we are all familiar with having to wear face masks, either by choice or mandated by the relevant Government. It is a shock to see masks going to waste (even the reusable ones) on the pavement. Yours truly saw a fair few while walking 13,000 steps (on the day of writing this) in a city that currently has zero cases of community transmission of coronavirus. It is understandable that disposable masks are needed while working (easier to breathe in), and at hospitals; yet for the sake of mother earth - it is better to invest in a few reusable masks, and thankfully they come in some beautiful designs. Yours truly purchased her comfortable reusable masks on Etsy. That way you are also supporting independent creators in their work, rather than the big boys.

By Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

On the pandemic, some food for thought in relation to supporting our environment can be a cause for strong debate on the issue. Being a conscious 'Wave Maker' - yours truly believes that the pandemic was due in part to the way us humans have been wasteful to mother earth, and by abusing the environment in the past. Consider the COVID-19 Pandemic a wake up call. I am sure this pandemic has woken us all up to the core, emphasising the need for climate change for the better, and in doing all of the little things within our power to protect mother earth, and this gorgeous planet of ours, that we all have a privilege of calling home sweet home. Thereby some of our freedoms have been sacrificed as a result, yet on the flip side the pandemic has been responsible for some of this wastage, with the ramping up of disposable face masks, as well as disposable plastic hand sanitiser bottles, and (my pet peeve from my retail experience) surgical gloves.

By the blowup on Unsplash

The use of disposable surgical gloves at work during the pandemic was a massive wake up call for me. When I had to serve a customer one praline from the cabinet (or more than one at a time, for gift boxes or otherwise); prior to the pandemic I was able to safely use a reusable felt glove that lasted an entire shift, and sat discreetly in my apron pocket. Come COVID-19 however, and disposable plastic gloves had to be used as part of infection control, which I came to understand, however there was a but. I was (and still am) disgusted with the number of disposable surgical gloves I had to use each shift. If the cabinet got cleaned out, there goes half a box I had to use up. If a customer only wanted one praline, then a fresh glove had to be used. That, and wearing a disposable face mask (where some would fall apart after ten minutes) felt wasteful. As a result, I am thankful that my IT job (and being a writer) is not wasteful like this, together with having to throw out product that was out of date.

In putting this piece of writing together, all of the above strategies are constantly used and applied by me on a daily basis. As a result of the pandemic, my values have shifted immensely, where I am now super conscious of the effects of my actions on mother earth and its natural environment. The pandemic has made me realise that we once lived in a tremendously wasteful society.

The decluttering movement (anything that does not spark joy) was a revolution, to the point where our garbage processing areas/landfills were unable to cope with the abundance of 'stuff' and unwanted material possessions that were put to waste. Therefore if we are mindful and present when we are out shopping, we will only come home with what we need in the first place. If an item is on sale, and do you not need it, then it isn't a good deal.

By Chelsea Gates on Unsplash

When you engage in work that you are passionate about, you work for the sake of it, and not because of the money, or to fill a void. When you need to fill a void, you spend more money. The more money you spend, the more your carbon emissions go up. Just spend less. The pandemic has also taught me that we really don't need that much, in terms of stuff or money. Buy less, and only buy quality. After all, you get what you pay for. Cheap is definitely nasty.

The buck starts with us, and the buck stops with us when it comes to protecting our environment, and being mindful as to what ends up on our oceans. If we think about the consequences of our actions, we will make wiser choices. If we look after our material items, they will last longer, and that is a win to our pockets, as well as to the earth. It feels good to engage in all of these actions, because then we will live in a healthier world. This is what we want, and therefore it is logical to focus on what we want. We cannot change the past, yet we can look to the past for guidance. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Reflect. Be a wave maker, a force for good.

By Noah Buscher on Unsplash

If you love our earth, then please heart this article. Cheers.


About the author

Justine Crowley

UX Designer/Internet Moderator/Content Creator/Book Author

Insta: @justysinuxdesign

Lives in Sydney, Australia. Loves life.

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