Rubbish getting put out. Photo Renee Albrecht/Gympie Times
Rubbish getting put out. Photo Renee Albrecht/Gympie Times Renee Albrecht

5 things I'm doing to live a more sustainable life

IT'S 2016, and I'm sure we're all aware of how important it is to look after the environment.

Well, I sure am, and I've been on a quest lately to live a more sustainable lifestyle to reduce my (physical) impact on the world.

I'm trying to cut down on my waste, with inspiration from the "zero waste" community/lifestyle.

Here's how I'm doing it.

Things I've already incorporated into my life:

Reusable water bottle

One of the easiest things to do - why buy plastic water bottles daily and contribute to landfill (and dig a deeper whole in your wallet) - when you can just fill up from the tap. I use a glass water bottle, which you may find heavier, but it is great quality and will last a long time. Plus, I like to be able to see what I'm drinking, so opaque metallic ones aren't for me.

Canvas shopping bags

I've had my stock in my car for years now, ready for any shopping adventures. I'm just trying to remember to take them into other shops other than grocery shops, as I ALWAYS remember at the supermarket or grocer, but often when heading into Kmart etc, I think "I'm only getting one thing, I won't need a bag". We all know that's a lie. I must invest in more foldable bags that I can store in my handbag for such situations.


Get rid of the plastic shopping bags. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily
Get rid of the plastic shopping bags. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily Warren Lynam


I'm an avid recycler at home, with a separate bin in the kitchen for each recycling and waste. I've even been known to take something out of the waste bin and make sure it goes in the recycling if someone else has put it in the waste bin by mistake. No biggie. I also send all my used clothing to charity second hand stores (and generally pick up some "new" items for myself there too).

Plant-based lifestyle

To not mention the environmental cost of animal agriculture would be irresponsible of me. Gasp, I've been (mainly) vegan for about two years now - I say mainly because I've made a lot of mistakes along the way and I'll always be honest about that. Not only is a plant-based lifestyle better for your health and for the animals involved, it's also better for the environment. Raising animals for food (including land used for grazing and growing feed crops) now uses a staggering 30% of the Earth's land mass, and (in the United States) 70% of the grain grown is fed to farmed animals. To produce one pound of animal protein versus one pound of soy protein, it takes about 12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuel, and 15 times as much water (Source:

Females and 'that time of the month'

I'm not going to go into detail here, as I don't yet feel comfortable talking about this (NOTE: I should be, a period is a natural occurrence, but I've found there are very judgmental people out there and I don't want to spark an outrage) but as 20 billion tampons and pads are being dumped into landfill each year, I suggest you start googling "reusable menstrual products". I did about two years ago and it was one of the best things I've ever done. I feel both brave and extremely scared writing that.

Things I plan to incorporate from now:

Reusable produce bags

Even though I've been using my canvas shopping bags religiously, when it came to the produce section (where I spend a lot of time, being vegan) I was still using those small plastic produce bags from the supermarket. Why? I was lazy. I've finally gotten my act together and ordered some mesh produce bags so I will no longer have to use any plastic bags in my shopping experiences.

Make sure I actually USE my reusable coffee mugs

I own at least three of these travel mugs, and yet don't use them as often as I should. I'm making a conscious effort to have them on hand and ready to go.

Ditch the makeup wipes and cotton pads

I've done away with the disposable make up remover wipes and have opted for micellar water or coconut oil to remove my make up, but now I'm going to take it one step further by also doing away with the disposable cotton pads, instead investing in so reusable cotton rounds I've found online (Etsy, Amazon) which I can use for both make up removal and for use with toner.


I WILL start buying my produce 'locally'. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News
I WILL start buying my produce 'locally'. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News John Gass

Shop locally

I'm guilty of doing the "hurried shop" and grabbing my produce at Woolies along with other groceries, when I know I could be making another stop at a local fruit and veg shop, or schedule in a visit to the produce markets each week. I'm going to make a conscious decision to do this instead.


While I'm a recycling ninja, my compost bin I enthusiastically bought was used a grand total of two times before I stop using it out of sheer laziness when I became road blocked by trying to find the proper bags for use in the council's green bins. I won't be lazy any more, I promise.


Compostable Bin:RRP $50. Available at
Compostable Bin:RRP $50. Available at Mark Matysiak

Things I would like to do in the future:

Minimise my beauty products and start making my own

I already use a variety of cruelty-free and 'natural' products (NOTE: I love Sukin, among other great brands) but I would like to minimise the amount products I do use, and maybe even start making my own beauty products - there are a million YouTube tutorials out there about how to make your own toothpaste, cleansers, deodorants - you name it.

Stop using my car for quick trips around town

I live fairly close to Lismore CBD, so I'd like to think I could stop using my car for unnecessary trips. I guess time has been important to me, but walking will do me good!

Go completely zero-waste

People like Lauren Singer of the blog Trash Is For Tossers, and Bea Johnson of the Zero Waste Home, are some of my heroes. I aspire to one day be able to live a life at least a bit closer to the zero-waste target. Small steps!

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