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Eight Habits That Could Change The World

By Nicola Saltman (Snr Environment Officer, Waverley Council) on December 23, 2014 in Other

With 2014 slowly coming to a close, it can be a great time to reflect, possibly while sipping martinis on the pool deck. This is the time when a lot of us make bold decisions to shed old ways and embrace new habits for the coming year, so when you’re considering your life-changing resolutions, perhaps throw in a few for the sake of our planet. Here are a few simple suggestions…

1. Drink guilt-free coffee – Every year Australians throw away over a billion takeaway coffee cups. Staying only a few minutes in your hand, these little puppies end up as landfill waste for 100 years. So for your next steaming pick-me-up, grab a reusable cup instead, which cafes are happy to fill. Some even provide a discount. They are dishwasher-proof, and make super cool Christmas presents too.

2. Be food-wise – Over half of our rubbish that ends up at the tip is food scraps, rotten food and dinner leftovers. In landfill, this can lead to groundwater contamination and the production of greenhouse gases. Planning a weekly meal menu before you head to the shops can help to cut down on unwanted food that you may wind up throwing out. You can also reuse food scraps to make free compost for your plants – join the 15,000 people in the Eastern Suburbs who are already doing it as part of Waverley, Randwick and Woollahra Councils’ Compost Revolution program. Visit for info.

3. Think trees – Each time a tonne of paper is thrown away in the red bin, 20 full-grown trees go to waste, a fact made even more sad when you think that Australians send 1.9 million tonnes of paper to landfill each year and most of it can be recycled. If you can’t reuse it (think wrapping, paper aeroplanes, origami), chuck it in the correct recycling bin (blue in Waverley, yellow in Randwick). Oh, and whilst on the tree theme, your living Christmas tree can be recycled in the green organics bin after this season’s festivities are over.

4. Bag the plastic bag – Let’s face it, plastic is everywhere. Unfortunately it takes a whole load of resources to make, it winds up in our oceans and suffocates marine life, and it ends up in landfill for centuries. Going plastic bag free in day-to-day activities is easy with proper reusable bags. You can also reuse bread bags for storing fruit and vegies in the fridge.

5. Go native – Polish your green thumb and plant a native tree in your garden or on your balcony. There are plenty of great-looking native shrubs that love our sandy soils, sprout colourful flowers and bring native birds like lorikeets to the ‘hood. Check out the Randwick Community Nursery, which specialises in native and local-friendly plants.

6. Lighten up – Three facts: 1) The UN has touted 2015 as the International Year of Light; 2) Super efficient and long-lasting LEDs are very affordable these days for home lighting; 3) Lights can account for 10-15 percent of your household energy bill. If you don’t have the cash to replace your lights now with energy-saving alternatives like LEDs, just remember to switch off those you are not using.

7. Get cycling – There’s nothing like the freedom of two wheels. It’s about the breeze on your cheeks, no traffic stress and the calories burning away as you pedal. If you don’t ride regularly, summer is a great time to start and get your cycling ‘mojo’ up. It’s a healthy way to commute and it’s also pollution-free. Council runs free bike maintenance, rusty riders and cycling skills workshops. Find out more at

8. Pick up – No world-changing dating advice here, sorry! Just a sweet reminder that loving our beaches, streets and parks means taking your rubbish with you. When in doubt, bin it. Left litter gets into our stormwater system and into our oceans, playing havoc with our heath and the environment. It looks ugly too.

Wishing you a happy and safe festive season.