Through the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s estimated that over one-quarter of the world’s population has been restricted to spending time within the limits of their home, including entire cities, states and even countries. Through this process, many activities we might have previously considered ‘high-importance’ have gone out the window.
Sustainable living is one area where we simply can’t afford to lose our drive. Whilst these are unprecedented times, it’s important for us to keep up the momentum as we build towards a future where we live in balance with nature.
As one of Australia’s leading environmental behaviour change organisations, we pride ourselves on helping Australians live environmentally friendly lives and we won’t let this virus stop us from doing so. So, here’s Planet Ark’s top tips for living sustainable in a viral new world.
- Get your green thumb out
Australians are seemingly already turning to the backyard, as sales of vegie seeds and seedlings have been sent soaring in recent weeks as people around the country look to start, replenish or revive their home vegie patches. But vegetables aren’t the only plants that can be fulfilling to grow. There are all kinds of ways you can look at growing something at home, including training vines to grow up a surface or starting a succulent garden.
If you’re looking to start a vegetable garden or planter box at home, take the time to do it in a way that is sustainable beyond the current situation. Start small and instead of buying up seeds, tend to your space, prepare your soil and aim to start growing a few plants or vegetables. If you’re getting little ones involved, look through our gardening tips for kids.
- Make sure you’re recycling correctly
With the majority of Australians spending their days at home for the foreseeable future, household waste is almost certain to rise. Instead of letting it get the better of you, take the extra time around home to put good systems in place that will help you now and in the future. Find out exactly what your local council accepts in kerbside recycling, work out a space to store your soft plastics to return to REDcycle drop-offs when visiting the supermarket and, most importantly, keep recycling to the best of your ability. Look out for the Australasian Recycling Label on packaging and while shopping – it’s the only evidence-based recycling label that shows you which bin to put your packaging in.
For more information on recycling or to find options for e-waste, textiles and other difficult-to-recycle items, visit www.recyclingnearyou.com.au.
- Start composting
According to findings from the National Food Waste Baseline announced in 2019, Australian households produced about 2.5 million tonnes of food waste in the 2016-17 year. So what can we do better? Having your own compost bin, compost heap, worm farm or Bokashi bucket is a cheap, rewarding way to recycle your food scraps and garden cuttings. Worm farms can be kept in courtyards, balconies or even inside if space is limited, and many councils and community gardens provide online composting and worm farming resources to help you get started.
For more information on composting and dealing with food waste, check out Planet Ark’s info page on food scraps.
- Get creative with DIY projects
Extra time at home provides us with a fantastic opportunity to exercise some creative flair and try being more circular at home. Creative reuse and recycling are key elements of any circular economy and there’s no reason we can’t get amongst the action during our time indoors. Check out Planet Ark’s Reuse Hub for ideas and tips to get you started, as well as information on collaborative consumption.
To become even more involved in the circular economy, check out our Recycled Products Directory and start buying back the materials you recycle to close the recycling loop!
- Connect with nature in new ways
There are so many ways nature can help us through challenging times. Planet Ark research shows time in nature enhances and grows the key areas in life that Australians consider the most important for a fulfilling life – health, happiness, learning, relaxation and relationships. Whilst getting outdoors other than your own backyard is a bit tricky at the moment, this time gives us the opportunity to explore other means of connecting with nature and widening what it means to us.
Check out some of these options:
- Take a virtual trek through Everest Base Camp, The Galapagos Islands and The Great Barrier Reef with Google Maps.
- Get involved in citizen science through projects such as birdata or the Australian Museum’s FrogID.
- Keep the kids busy with nature activities. Planet Ark has a number of educational resources to keep kids learning, engaged and connected with nature.
- Set up a sustainable workspace
Now that the distinction between home and office is all but gone, it’s time to make sure you are doing the type of sustainable activities you would do in the office at home. Simple things like putting aside printer cartridges to be recycled, choosing high-quality recycled office paper, and setting up extra recycling bins for items like soft plastics and batteries.
Furthermore, research has shown exposure to plants in the office has a positive effect on workers by boosting mood and productivity. The use of wood has also proved to have similar effects. Even if you’re sitting at the dinner table or crammed into a study nook, incorporating house plants and wood (especially if you can see the grain!) around you can help you get through the day more effectively.