Waste management is becoming an increasingly important issue in both Australia and the global community. The planet Earth has limited resources and space, and greenhouse gases and chemicals are problematic. In Australia, the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory estimates that landfills alone produce around 2 per cent of the country's total greenhouse gases. The production and distribution of items that end up in the rubbish bin also contribute to greenhouse gas. Australians can reduce their carbon footprints by reducing the amount of things they waste.
Types of waste
Many things end up in rubbish bins, and each of them negatively impacts the environment in its own way. Australians can do their part to reduce rubbish by reducing, reusing, and recycling some of these waste products.
Food waste has a huge environmental impact in Australia. The New South Wales Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the food industry contributes around 23 per cent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. Although production, transport, and retail are responsible for many of those emissions, wasting food contributes to that overall environmental cost.
Food production also involves a lot of water, so wasting food also wastes one of Australia's most valuable resources. Food waste also has a negative environmental impact through waste collection and disposal; every tonne of food waste contributes around 0.9 tonnes of carbon.
What to do
Australians can reduce the amount of food that goes in their rubbish bins through planning. They can make shopping lists in advance and buy only what they plan to eat. They can also avoid spoilage by storing food properly.
According to Environment Victoria, Australians throw away around 200 kg of packaging per year, adding up to 1.9 million tonnes total. Overall, its impact is high; Environment Victoria estimates that those 1.9 million tonnes of plastic, paper, and metal packaging pumps as much carbon into the atmosphere as 860,000 cars. Packaging production also involves important resources like water, oil, trees, and tin. Australians can return some of those resources back to the supply chain by recycling used packaging, but it is better to buy products with minimal or no packaging.
Disposable products such as plastic carrier bags, water bottles, and paper cups are not good for the environment. Their production and distribution creates greenhouse gases. Their disposal also involves transport, which contributes to their overall carbon input.
Choosing reusable items is a feasible alternative. For example, a reusable plastic travel mug takes only 17 uses to break even with disposable paper coffee cups, meaning that a person has to use it 17 times for the energy used in its manufacture and maintenance to match that of lighter paper cups. The travel mug has a lower carbon footprint than disposable cups do after those 17 uses.
Not all products are as green as they seem. Materials such as cotton are resource intensive, so they can take longer to break even with disposable items. For example, a cotton tote bag takes around 131 uses to have a positive impact compared with plastic bags. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that it can take over 20,000 litres of water to produce a single kg of cotton. Australians can choose products made of greener materials like organic cotton or linen, recycled materials, or environmentally friendly synthetic materials.
Electronic items, such as computers, mobile phones, and televisions, are made of important resources such as plastic, titanium, and glass. They can also leach dangerous chemicals, such as mercury, arsenic, and cadmium, into the environment when people throw them away. Australians can help keep electronic products out of landfills by selling or donating old, working items instead of throwing them away. They can dispose of broken electronics and used batteries at electronic recyclers.
Clothing waste is also a problem. Australian households waste as much as 17.7 kg of clothing and household goods per week. Australians can help curb overproduction and keep clothing out of landfills by choosing quality over quantity, donating used clothing, and recycling worn clothing for rags and craft projects.
How to buy reusable products on eBay
If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, choosing reusable products instead of disposable ones can help cut back rubbish. You can find a huge inventory of reusable water bottles, travel mugs, and carrier bags on eBay. To find specific items, use search terms that include the kind of product you want and the material, such as "stainless steel water bottle" and "organic cotton tote bag". You can also include colour and size into your terms or use filters to get specific results.