We are going to explore 6 free things that you can switch to, to help lessen your impact on the environment.
We hear it all too often, that it’s just too hard, or it’s is too expensive to do all this ‘eco’ stuff. For this reason, we thought it would be beneficial to present some free things that will assist you in making the change to a greener footprint without needing to open your wallet.
Here are the six free eco switches that we recommend you try.
- Your Internet Search Engine > ECOSIA
Ecosia is an alternate search engine to Google or Bing that we stumbled across earlier this year. We were genuinely excited to start using it! They pledge a minimum of 80% of their profits to re-forestation all over the world.
The re-greening of the World is going to be a critical factor in our fight against climate change and biodiversity preservation for not only humanity, but also all the beautiful creatures that we share this Earth with.
Personally, we feel there are some big incentives to switch to Ecosia, here are a few; they are incredibly transparent, they publish their financials, are less invasive, are B Corp Certified, have their own solar plant to power their servers, and they plant trees!!! Check out some of their amazing projects here.
As far as a search engine goes, we think that it is pretty good. Unfortunately, at this stage it does lack a little of the functionally of Google, particularly in relation to maps. The current workaround recognises that you need maps and prompts you to select Bing or Google and will then redirect you if it detects your search is map related.
On our mobile devices we have placed the app where we previously had Google, to help change our default googling habit, it is now our go-to search engine. We still have Google for the odd occasion we feel we need it. Every person that switches to Ecosia will assist their search engine to get bigger, better, and of course plant more trees.
It takes approx. 45 searches to plant one tree. There is even a counter to track the number of searches you do. At the time of writing they have planted an amazing 75,814,017 trees. Let’s help them increase that number to one billion.
Over the last 12 months in Australia, Ecosia accounted for only 0.16% of search engine usage. This is significantly behind Google at 94.89% which holds first place and Bing at 3.41%, who are in second place. You can make a positive difference, by changing your googling habits to Ecosing (okay that doesn’t sound right but you get it, right?). These stats were provided by: Global Stats, search engine market share.
Honestly, we think this is a great initiative! A great free way to simply switch an app and add an extension to your current search engine and use your online habit for some green good! Start watching that counter!
- Non-Curbside Recycling
Ideally, we need to avoid plastics and seek out alternatives whenever we can. However, it can be difficult to avoid plastic entirely in the current consumer system.
Below are some recycling options for items that cannot be recycled via council/curb side recycling.
- Soft plastics
A trip to the supermarket will quickly remind you that soft plastics are everywhere!
You can certainly reduce your soft plastic use by using reusable fruit and vegetable produce bags and shopping at a bulk foods’ store. Unfortunately, avoiding soft plastic entirely is near impossible!
Soft plastics are one of the easiest to recycle by simply packing as much as you can into one of the larger bags. You can simply drop it off at Woolworths or Coles, there are collection bins at the front of the stores. The soft plastic is then made into things like outdoor furniture, and bollards.
Further info including participating locations can be found here at https://www.redcycle.net.au/
- Difficult to recycle items
Our homes are filled with many items that at this stage end up in landfill by the millions. Whilst many of the below listed items are not widely recycled and definitely cannot be placed into your curbside recycling there are some new programs that assist.
Terracycle, assists with recycling of some not so easy to recycle products and packaging like;
- Makeup/cosmetic packaging
- Contact lens
These programs are funded by a brand. Sometimes the brand will only accept their own packaging, but often they accept all brands of the relevant waste (ie the oral care program). Not all of Terracycle’s programs are free but many are. Find out more about what you can recycle via their free recycling programs at https://www.terracycle.com/en-AU/brigades
Find out more about drop off points in your area via this map http://www.terracyclemap.com/
- Battery recycling
Unfortunately, batteries are items that the vast majority of the population are not recycling. Quite frankly the battery recycling rates in Australia are appalling! Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI) currently states that a measly 1.6% of batteries are collected for recycling. This is simply not good enough. However, of this tiny percentage that is diverted from landfill 99% is recycled.
Batteries contain valuable resources (ie. Silver, magnesium and zinc) that can be recovered and re-used. The more of these resources that can be recovered the less we need to rely on mining.
Batteries can also contain toxic materials and should therefore be disposed of properly and responsibly. Avoid sending them to landfill where they could end up causing contamination issues and potentially harm wildlife.
Places to recycle batteries include Battery World, ALDI, and OfficeWorks. Battery World accepts all types of batteries, ALDI accept all brands of AA, AAA, C, D and 9V batteries (either rechargeable or non-rechargeable). Many local libraries also have battery collection containers.
It is best not to store too many batteries. But remember if you are storing batteries, then please do so safely and in a safe place out of reach of children. Here is some useful information on battery safety.
Officeworks has recently announced an expansion to their post-consumer waste collection service. This is being rolled out to stores over the next 12 months. The below are now included.
- Pens, Markers, and Highlighters
- CDs and DVDs
Unfortunately, at time of writing there was not a great deal of information available about the new program or when it will reach particular stores. We don’t go through many of these items but we will just place them into a container and take them in once the program is available in our local area.
Avoiding plastic is the best option, but when we can’t or, it has already made its way into our home, the above options can at least reduce the amount that we are sending to landfill or ending up in oceans and be changed into something useful.
Such a simple thing; turning our food scraps into compost is something we can all get on board with.
Ideally, we wouldn’t have any food waste and would eat absolutely everything. We have definitely reduced our food waste quite considerably. To achieve this, we make sure that we rotate through our leftovers, use the freezer, buy more consciously, and buy less. We use our compost bin daily. If you have a garden, even a small one, chances are you already have a home or council compost bin. If you don’t already have one, there may be a cost associated with a council compost bin. In this instance perhaps you have a neighbour that has some space in their home or council compost bin? Many councils provide kitchen caddies and compostable bags free of charge for residents. Scraps can also be wrapped in newspaper and popped straight into the compost. Council compost bins can vary a little depending on the type of facility they have, so please be sure to Ecosia your local council’s website for more info.
- Strive to Become a Minimalist
This one might seem contradictory given that we run an online store. But unless you really need something, don’t purchase it and when you do consume consciously, buy well.
Before you make a purchase, STOP and Take 5. Ask yourself, do I really need this, can I get by without it? If it is not something you can do without decide on a high-quality product that won’t require regular replacement.
This not only costs nothing, but saves money! Become a smarter shopper. We all cave to the marketing gimmicks from time to time and buy things that we can live without, but let’s aim to minimise the purchases that we don’t need to make. When you do truly need something, buy better!
Selecting items that are well made and will last the test of time should be the goal. Consider buying something that can be passed down to other generations. Naturally, quality items are pricier, but if you are spending less on things you don’t actually need, you’ll have more to make better purchases.
We think that there is something to be said for owning beautifully crafted quality things, you cherish them and look after. Many people consuming consciously and not simply on spending autopilot can make a big environmentally sustainable difference. Not just today but for decades to come – the years that our children and grandchildren will be hosts to.
Alternatively, you an also explore the option of purchasing the items you need through op shops and thrift stores. Not only does this save you money on buying products brand new, but also helps cut your carbon footprint. You can review more on this through one of our older blog posts: https://ibuyonce.com/the-lost-art-of-thrift/
- Fitness App – Charity Miles
These guys have an app that basically works as a pedometer, but slightly fancier than the ones we previously clipped onto our belts!
Basically, for each mile (it’s US based) you walk, run, or cycle, it donates money to your selected charity.
It appears this app is for profit however, doesn’t cost the user anything. Revenue raised is via companies who advertise via the app. Basically, during a workout the background image (ie. the advert) sits behind your personal fitness stats. Personally, this isn’t much of an issue, as we largely ignore the advertisements. They are mainly American based companies and so many of the adverts are irrelevant to Australia. If we’re being really critical there are a couple of sponsors/advertisers that we personally don’t support. However, on the positive side, there are some amazing charities that we can support via no cost and by going about our daily routine. The pros definitely outweigh the cons, but feel free to check it out and make up your own mind.
Being US based, means the charities are also US based. There are many charities to select from; we select “The Nature Conservancy” as our chosen charity. These guys do work in many locations around the world and personally we think the planet needs more conservation! They do some amazing work, reading through some of their content and seeing what they are working towards is a good antidote to all the destruction and negativity that we seem to be surrounded by today.
If you’ve never heard of them check them out here… https://www.nature.org/en-us/
- Re-homing unwanted stuff
When we say “re-homing” we aren’t talking about dumping all your stuff at the op shop but, don’t get us wrong we certainly think op shops are an excellent way to reuse but they do have their limitations. If you have items that you no longer need, think outside the box about what else you’re able to do with them. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking…
- Try to re-home it yourself first by asking family and friends if they want/need anything that you no longer do (ie. we are trying to re-home a fridge and a white wine rack but, apparently we don’t know any people that drink enough white wine!);
- Ask a local charity/community group (ie. an animal shelter might make use of an old washing machine, old sheets/blankets/towels, dog kennels, cat crates etc);
- Excess produce can be shared with others (ie. going away on holidays? Maybe you could take any food that will spoil in the meantime to your family or neighbours?
Our recent re-home was our empty DVD and CD cases. We simply approached our local library during one of our visits and they were more than happy to take them for replacement covers for their loaned-out items.
So, get creative and find a home for your unwanted items. Indirectly you will be helping others learn to do the same and overtime you may even score some items that you need yourself.
These are some very simple options that you can utilise for free, to help minimise your impact on the planet.
The biggest take out and learnings from transitioning to the above points is; it is all about habits and routine. Find small ways to change your routines and don’t give up. Make a positive difference to our future and that of the generations to come.
You may not nail all 6 of the above initiatives, but we encourage you to give some of them a good go!
***We are not affiliated with any of the above businesses or services***