Six tips to be green while you quarantine
Now that our homes are the engine-room of the domestic economy, they're also using more energy and water than usual, and generating a lot more waste.
We spoke to ACU’s National Sustainability Manager Mark Doggett for a few tips to stay green while you’re in lockdown.
1. Food waste is likely your biggest source of household greenhouse emissions. It comprises at least half of most landfill bins, so diverting it is an excellent way to cut your personal environmental impact. Slashing food waste starts with planning your shopping so you only get what you need (also a great way to save money). But even with great planning, you'll always have some food waste.
Instead of dumping it in the trash, start your own compost or worm farm – which will use up food scraps and is great for your garden. Compost Revolution is a scheme to offer subsidised home food waste equipment; it's delivered by 35 local councils. It also includes lots of tutorials on managing food waste properly. The tutorials are worthwhile for anyone already attempting to manage food waste at home.
Live in an apartment and no garden? No problem – check out point number six or consider getting a worm farm/garden combo.
2. Save water to help keep dam levels high. You can cut back on your water wastage by taking a shorter shower (find a four-minute or less song to sing in the shower – after the last chorus, you're out). Listen to scientists by using the dishwasher (like you need an excuse). And practise selective flushing by doing so only when necessary (you’ll know when it’s necessary).
3. Think before you reno. Lockdown has lots of us getting to those odd jobs around the house that were once long neglected. Home renovations will likely involve hammers on thumbs, paint on your clothes and ladders you shouldn't climb – but there's no need to add to the trauma by tearing down virgin forest for your timber. Buy timber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC. The FSC sets the world's highest standards for sustainable wood products and you can buy them with confidence.
4. Impulse buy, but ethically. Look, it’s a good to support business. But it’s bad to support bad business. We’re all guilty of using our free time to do a little online shopping, but make sure you’re purchasing products that are ethical. There’s no point wasting your money on junk that’s unsustainable for people and the planet, too.
5. Grow greener vegies. Some of our suburbs, especially those with an industrial past, sit on badly contaminated soil. That's particularly worrisome if you have a vegie garden because heavy metals and hydrocarbon pollutants can find their way into your produce, and then into the body. Macquarie University’s Department of Environmental Science will test your soil for a donation of just $20 and tell you whether there are toxins in it. The program is called Vegesafe, and it's ace.
6. Donate your vegie scraps. If home composting doesn’t appeal, ShareWaste is a community network that matches people who need organic waste for their compost with people who create organic waste. It's Enviro Tinder, really. To participate, you need to register with the site. That enables you to find people near you who want food waste or who have food waste to donate. It does however require interaction with others, so the homepage has a link to COVID-19 advice.
Australian Catholic University (ACU) is taking a range of actions to reduce its environmental footprint. Find out more about ACU.