Here are nine small eco-conscious behavioural changes I’ve made in my world over the last few years, as a minor contribution to the health of the greater world.
These aren’t revolutionary new ideas, just some small commitments to regular habits. I also strongly believe that it’s not helpful or attractive to have a self-righteous attitude about our conservation efforts – let’s share ideas and support each other to make small, conscious changes.
I try to buy commonly-used goods in bulk and store them in jars and reusable containers. The Source Milford offers a discount for bringing in your own containers, on top of a loyalty programme. The staff are friendly and helpful. I feel like a kid in a candy store whenever I walk into their spotless, well-displayed shop.
Took an empty laundry liquid container to The Source, and had it refilled with a lovely organic product. Lemon Myrtle laundry liquid is natural with no harmful chemicals, plus it smells incredible. It’s not a cheap way to go, but so far I’m happy with the results and glad to be using a product that’s free of nasties. Next I’ll be taking my olive oil bottle to The Source when I run out!
As an avid reader, I have been a sucker for the latest book releases and Whitcoulls Top 100 charts, treating myself to a new purchase if I didn’t have a minder to drag me out of the store. I have a kindle which is a convenient and cheaper way to manage a library, but the multi-sensory experience of reading an actual physical book can’t be beaten. Also, I love to share my books around with friends.
Earlier this year, when I realised how easily I had walked into a store and purchased the latest book by a favourite author, I made a new commitment to myself – no more buying new books. I went out the next week and applied for a new library card (my previous one had lapsed after about 20 years of inactivity). I now have a new routine of walking to the library to return and check out books, and I even (SHOCK HORROR) have gone on the waiting list for books I want to read! Ordinarily, I would have purchased a kindle version from Amazon in under a minute. Bygone are the days of instant gratification; welcome to the days of patience and appreciation.
Investing in products that will last a lifetime and not break down is often a good thing. A toothbrush is not one of these items. I’ve been subscribing to Toothcrush for over a year, and get a fresh new toothbrush in my mailbox every month. This eco-conscious bamboo toothbrush subscription is affordable and more sustainable than the plastic kind. “Using 12 Toothcrush brushes creates 18 times less environmentally damaging waste than buying 4 plastic toothbrushes from the supermarket.”
It took me a bit to get used to using soft bristles, but not as long as I thought it would. My teeth and gums love the gentler treatment! It’s super convenient to have them delivered each month, and I always look forward to seeing what colour comes next (it’s the small things…).
5. FOOT POWER
My first company vehicle purchased when I went freelancing is powered by my feet (and thighs and glutes and lungs). I love hopping on my scooter and hooning around my local streets. Not so much fun in the wet when the foot brake doesn’t hold. Also it’s pretty hard to carry stuff and hold onto the handles, but it’s fun going downhill, faster than walking, and better than taking the car unnecessarily.
This wee Keep Cup is the bearer of precious liquid goodness. Previously I had tried to not use disposable coffee cups too often and would coffee-in when possible, but now I use my Keep Cup as much as possible. I’m quite disgusted when I look back at how many disposable coffee cups I went through years back when I was working at an office. That changed when I bought a coffee machine at home, but now I feel much better about my coffee drinking habits (which I’ve tried to reduce to two per day – I embrace my addiction…).
I basically suck at keeping plants alive, and the only thing that thrives in my garden is rampant mint. But sprouts I can manage, and boy are they yummy. I was given the sprout trays as a gift, and buy the seed packets from garden centres. They are super low maintenance and delicious in wraps, scrambled eggs, and stir-fries.
I’ve been making kombucha for a while now too, and my favourite flavour is blood orange, made with three earl grey teabags and one blood orange tea bag. Sometimes I’ll add lemon wedges or chunks of fresh ginger after the fermentation process for different flavouring. The kombucha in the pic is brewing with a delicious fragrant lime from my uncle’s tree. Sometimes my scobies get a bit out of control, so hit me up if you want a share in the scoby love.
When I was travelling in Japan back in 2005, my friend gave me a lovely pink and orange bag as a gift, which was a new product at her business, developed by a Swedish designer (if I recall correctly). It was basically a resilient reusable eco-bag that we know and love today, but I hadn’t seen one before then. I carried it with me all the time, over-stuffed, for many years.
Now I’m a regular bag-lady and often carry bags within bags when I’m out and about, trying to avoid the plastic-bag-carrying walk of shame when reusable bags are forgotten. If I end up with plastic bags, I repurpose them as much as I can.
Also, to be quite contrary, I actually don’t like carrying stuff so whenever it’s appropriate I just fill my pockets with the stuff I need!
In 2014, my area was fortunate to be part of the Auckland Council organics collection trial. It was a total game changer for rubbish disposal. We were supplied with a small bin to keep under the kitchen counter for food scraps and other organic refuse, lined with compostable bags, and a larger bin for weekly roadside collection. At that time, my area was still using the orange council bags for rubbish collection, but without the issue of food scraps decomposing between collections, the orange bags would take a lot longer to fill. I use tons of tissues during the week so I’m really glad the tissues can be composted rather than filling up a plastic bag.
This new system saves money and reduces landfill – win-win! Recently our old, smaller recycling wheelie bin has been converted to a rubbish bin which is a plus for not needing the orange bags anymore.
The Auckland Council have reported that during the three-year trial, nearly 500 tonnes of food has been diverted from landfills. With such a successful outcome, hopefully they will roll out the organic rubbish collection nationwide.