By Alison Mitchell, Friend of Willow Park
Most of us know the popular three-word slogan for reducing waste – ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’. It is a testament to the effectiveness of education programs from government and non-government organisations around waste that we see and hear this slogan so often.
It is derived from the ‘waste hierarchy’ that is much broader and asks us to avoid waste as a first preference; recover, reuse or repair (and our local Repair Café is a great place to investigate that option: https://ecoportal.net.au/groups/repair-cafe-albury-wodonga/); recycle, treat and reuse waste by-products such as energy; and send to landfill as the final preference when all other options are not viable.
So how do we avoid waste in this day of excessive packaging? I think it’s easy and my three-word slogan might help: ‘Don’t Buy It’. You may well be thinking – that’s impossible because everything comes in packaging. Yes, it does, but you don’t always have to purchase it.
Let’s think about food packaging. I recall going to a large supermarket deli and asking if I could bring my own container to purchase goods. After a lengthy delay while the manager was consulted, the response was ‘no, sorry, we are not allowed to do that’. The response from the local butcher was quite different – ‘are you allergic to plastic?’. To a degree, yes.
At my local farmer’s market I can purchase food in my own packaging or return packaging for reuse. You can also bring your own packaging for fruit and vegetables to the supermarket and the reusable Australian-made ‘Fregie Sack’ is a great way to do that (see: www.thefregiesack.com.au).
You can even purchase reusable, washable cloth containers for your packed lunch. You might also consider making your own reusable, washable containers from items purchased from a second-hand retailer.
Once you begin thinking about the fact that you are not just buying a product, but also the waste it is packed in, it becomes much easier to consider waste and how to reduce it with each and every purchase. Do you need that item? Can you avoid the waste by purchasing an alternative product or from an alternative retailer? You’ll probably come up with all sorts of innovative and even fun ideas to not only reduce waste, but the number of times you need to put your red and yellow bins out for collection and that’s good for all of us.
Have fun and enjoy the challenge.