Five Everyday Life Swaps You Can Make to Live More Sustainably at Home
Now you're spending more time at home, it's a good opportunity to learn new skills and make lasting changes that are better for the environment and your pocket.
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No one asked for a global lockdown, but here we are. Working from home and practising social distancing has been a successful move to flatten the curve of COVID-19, and it's all been possible because we care about the health and wellbeing of others. We also, no doubt, care about the impact we have on the natural world — and though the negative impacts of being in lockdown may take months to recover, there've been some surprising upsides. The peaks of the Himalayas are visible in some parts of India for the first time in decades thanks to the drop in pollution and New York and Los Angeles have reported lower pollution levels linked to the lack of vehicle traffic. Though these upsides are likely to be temporary, you can make some small but effective changes to your routine to help minimise our collective contribution to the ongoing climate crisis. With support from our friends at Tripod Coffee — who make certified compostable, Nespresso-compatible pods filled with fair trade, cafe-quality coffee — we've come up with a list of ways you can make positive changes while you're living your best stay-at-home lives. Read on for inspiration.
DITCH SINGLE-USE PLASTIC IN THE KITCHEN
Three years ago, KeepCup's co-founder Abigail Forsyth reported a 400 percent increase in sales of the brand's reusable coffee cups, showing that Australians are willing to adapt their daily habits for sake of the environment. Now that your reusable cup is stored away for a while, it's worth looking at your day-to-day cooking and food preparation habits to see if there's a simple swap you can make that's just as convenient but a lot less wasteful. Cling wrap is a good example. National Geographic reported that plastic wrap is difficult to recycle and made from potentially harmful materials "especially as they break down in the environment". A more environmentally friendly purchase is beeswax, which you can get online from Bee Wrappy and Eco Food Wrap — or you can learn to make it yourself. Then there are silicone covers from Byron Bay eco-store Seed & Sprout or Food Huggers, which are handy for half-used onions and citrus, and 100-percent organic cotton produce bags like these ones, which are best for containing loose veggies like green beans, carrots and brussels sprouts. Vegan dish washing blocks also claim to replace three plastic bottles' worth of washing up liquid. And, as you're eating more meals at home than ever before, investing in reusable and longer-lasting kitchen products can save you money in the long term.
START A WORM FARM
According to Foodbank Australia, the average Australian household sends almost five kilograms of food waste to landfill each week. That's a lot of veggie peel that could be feeding a clew of worms. Instead of chucking eggshells, banana skins and unused lettuce leaves into the bin, consider collecting organic scraps and adding them to a worm farm. You can create your own worm farm with a plastic storage bin or oversized food containers — or, if you prefer, you can buy worm habitats online. Order these worms born-and-bred in Australia, and, according to chef and writer Palisa Anderson, as long as you're not overfeeding, overheating, under-watering your worms you're probably doing it right. The main things to avoid are adding too much citrus, bones or meat, and to remember to add carbon, like newspaper and empty toilet rolls (cut into small pieces), to maintain a healthy carbon-nitrogen balance for your wriggly friends. Space is rarely an issue here, so you can start a worm farm even if all you have is a balcony, and the benefits include a rich vermicompost for your soil and worm juice that's a rich fertiliser for your house plants. Find handy maintenance tips from the War on Waste team here.
LEARN TO PICKLE AND PRESERVE
Itching for a new hobby? Instead of buying your favourite brined veggies and preserved fruits on your supermarket dash, learn to do it yourself and you'll come out of lockdown with sweet life skills as well as that beaming glow of someone with enviable gut health. Cornersmith owner Alex Elliott-Howery is the queen of pickling and preservation; she hates to see food wasted and, no matter where you live, you can learn the art of Cornersmith's distinctively flavoured pickled veggies through its online preserving courses. You'll pick up tips for bottling briny cucumbers, pickling beets and creating a jar of sweet preserved pears. There's also courses in tomato preservation in which you'll master passata and additive-free ketchup. Not your first rodeo? Find refresher recipes from the ABC, Bon Appétit and Cornersmith. More of a live, hands-on learner? Book into this fermenting and pickling class via Zoom from wholefood educator Marcea Klein or this one from Sugar-Free Home Preserving author Valerie Pearson via Work-Shop.
SWITCH TO COMPOSTABLE COFFEE PODS
Reaching for the coffee machine between Zoom meetings? Those with a Nespresso machine at home might be looking for a more sustainable alternative to wasteful aluminium coffee pods that can't be recycled. Australian brand Tripod Coffee produces 100-percent certified compostable coffee pods, made from plant-based bio-polymers. It has a Pod-to-Plant returns program that means you can return your used pods to be converted into fertiliser for local farmers, or you can place the entire pod and paper lid in your green council bin, if they accept organic waste. Tripod's fair trade coffee beans are roasted and ground in Australia in an air-tight environment, which means the coffee is as flavourful as any freshly ground blend. Find out more about Tripod's subscriptions and returns program, here.
GROW YOUR OWN HERBS
Step away from the plastic-wrapped basil leaves and pick up a packet of seeds, or potted plant, instead. There's never been a better time to try not to kill house-bound babies, like a luscious row of basil, coriander and parsley. Bunnings, which is practising social distancing and cashless payments across its stores as well as offering a drive and collect service, recommends starting out with coriander, chives, mint and thyme as they're easy to maintain and don't require a lot of space. Basil and flat-leaf parsley grow prolifically, so make sure you have more space and plan to use the leaves regularly. Pick up a small pot and potting soil from your local gardening centre, or order a self-watering one from Mr Kitly, and find a place with lots of sunlight. The Little Veggie Patch has lots of educational resources if you want to track growth or need to order more seed bundles and planters. And once you're all set up, you can start planning pesto and mojito nights to make your evenings at home more fragrant and flavoursome, as well as financially and environmentally friendly.
Tripod Coffee produces Australian certified-compostable coffee pods. Find out more about the range and delivery options, here.
Published on April 28, 2020 by Emma Joyce