Blog: Where do we start?

Published on 21 October 2020


Sometimes people gradually become more aware of the amount of waste in their lives but often there is a ‘light bulb’ moment which opens your eyes. It’s this light bulb moment that spurs you on to make changes in your own life.


I had always been pretty environmentally aware.  In my first job as a teenager in the early 1990’s I refused to give customers in the shop I worked in plastic bags. I was supposed to say ‘Do you need a plastic bag with that? But I would say – ‘You don’t need a plastic bag now, do you? It used to always bring a smile to my mum’s place when she heard that.


My real light bulb moment came though when I started working as an Environmental Officer at a landfill site in Raymond Terrace. I somewhat stumbled into the job so I hadn’t had much exposure to the waste industry. It was the truck, after truck, after truck that came to the facility and unloaded the waste from everyone’s kerbside bins that left me completely flabbergasted. There was so much of it and this was only from one local government area! What about the amount of waste produced in the whole country? The planet? 


It made me so much more aware of the wastefulness in my own life and made me prepared to inconvenience myself in order to reduce the amount that I contributed to the waste stream.


Having my own children some years later has only heightened my awareness. I would love to achieve a truly zero waste lifestyle but, oh gosh, that is challenging, so I just try to do my bit by being a conscious consumer – though there’s plenty of occasions when I have make an unconscious purchase of something that I truly didn’t need. 


These are some of the questions I ask myself when making a purchase. It may seem onerous but it becomes habitual and rather satisfying after a little practice! It also can save you a lot of money.  

Do I really need it?

Will something else perform the task? 
Sometimes this takes a few days at least, so if possible, give yourself time to mull it over.

Can I make it?

Can I buy it in a returnable bottle/container?

Can I compost the wrapping?

Can I buy it in bulk?

Does it come in glass?

Can I buy it in loose cardboard?

Is it possible to talk to the producers and request a change to their packaging? 
This is an important one. The more that people demand to producers and the government that we need more waste free options for buying life’s essentials, the more likely it is that change will happen. Governments and corporations won’t change on their own accord.  Change happens when a social mandate develops to do things differently.

Give it a go. Start asking yourself questions before you make your purchases.

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Where do we start? Join the conversation here.