A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at https://www.travelwithirenke.blogspot.com
Published June 1st 2018
Connecting with nature and the environment is important for the planet and the soul. There are many ways we can be 'green' and do our bit to sustain the earth and its ecosystems whilst spending time with family and friends. Some listed here may be familiar to you and some may be new to you.
Trees Glorious Trees - they provide us with so much
National Tree Day, co-ordinated by Planet Ark, is Australia's biggest environmental event where you plant a tree or shrub. Taking place at the end of July, it's a chance for you to do something positive for your community and surroundings. You don't have to be a green thumb as various planting sites will have a supervisor who can advise you on the day. Plants will be provided that are native to the area so there is no lugging around of trees and shrubs for you. They make it easy for you to do your bit and participation is free at most sites. Some may ask for a donation. To find a site to volunteer at simply search your council area, suburb or postcode on the Find a Site page. Hundreds of different planting events will take place in parks, gardens, reserves, bushland and foreshore areas. You're sure to find something not too far from home. Greening your community with trees can be very satisfying with health and wellbeing benefits, education and the knowledge you're providing a habitat for wildlife, amongst other advantages.
A range of other events where you can help include Clean Up Australia Day, World Oceans Day, Earth Hour and National Water Week. Learn more with this calendar of events the government has put together.
Turtles and plastic waste can be a fatal attraction
We need to reduce our impact on the natural environment by choosing wisely in our everyday lives so that our children will have a decent future. Plastic alternatives are out there when it comes to shopping and products we use regularly. The old string bags that your parents or grandparents used in days gone by are now in material versions in major supermarkets. Much better to reuse then choke up Mother Earth.
Our carbon foodprint can be reduced by buying fresh ingredients rather than packaged and processed foods, and using leftover veggies to make a stock or composting leftovers. If you live in an apartment block put together a group community compost out the back or on a rooftop for all tenants to access. Cooking at home more, eating out less in fast food places and not getting takeaway, help enormously.
Bamboo products are a good alternative to plastic items. This natural eco-friendly resource is strong and versatile. You can get a plethora of products that include bamboo cotton buds, toothbrushes, utensils, flasks, drinking straws, sunglasses' frames, and more. Google bamboo products and you're sure to be surprised by what you find. Bamboo also produces up to 35% more oxygen than trees, thus helping to offset carbon dioxide emissions.
Speaking of emissions, leave the car at home and walk or cycle around and to work if you can. Otherwise, carpool if possible. Plan your errands in one trip instead of multiple trips and save on gas.
Paper waste at work and home can be huge so when printing try to print double-sided and if you can't then reuse the blank side and any scrap paper for notes. Recycle your printer cartridges through the Cartridges 4 Planet Ark program. Collection boxes can be found at all Officeworks locations as well as participating Australia Post locations, Harvey Norman and a host of other retailers.
If you have old or broken CD's still, don't throw them out. I've seen them turned into some amazing art. If you're not creative, donate the old ones intact to charity and second-hand stores (same goes for books).
Glass bottles can be refilled but can be heavy to carry around. Instead, use them for sand art or decorate them and turn them into unique paperweights, or a feature in your home or garden. Cut the necks off of plastic bottles and use them to store bits and pieces in the garage, like nuts and bolts. Recycle jars by making jams or a terrarium.
When my son was young we found a lot of household products were also great for reusing in school projects. He created a castle with used milk cartons, cardboard rolls, foam pieces, Paddlepop sticks, etc., surprising me with how good it looked.
Reduce waste when it comes to clothing too. Instead of buying something new, mend the hole in that sock or jumper like those before us did. These days many of us are time poor and it's so easy just to replace something. We can learn a lot from the older generations who never threw away things that could be fixed. If there's clothes that just don't fit or you've grown tired of them then hand them down to family and friends or someone in need. Vinnies are everywhere and will happily take your offloads. There's also the Dress for Success organisation that you can donate work attire to. This enables them to empower women with the support, clothes and tools to get a job and thrive in the workplace, thus giving them economic independence.
You can also do your bit to save the planet's resources by cutting down on water consumption with shorter showers and make sure leaky taps are fixed promptly. Wash your car on the grass instead of the road and use a hand-held hose with a trigger nozzle to water your garden instead of a sprinkler.
If you're used to old habits, go green slowly and build a new habit. Celebrate your achievements and the positive effects they are having. Remember, every little bit counts.