Australians consume stuff like there’s no tomorrow. We gorge ourselves on meat and coffee, and we wear clothes once and throw them away without a thought. Well, at least that’s what you would think if you read some recent news articles about Australian consumer habits. Are these headlines warranted, and are Australians helping to fight the war on waste?
Clothing and Textiles
Australian’s want their fashion fast and cheap. You can order a dress online and have it delivered next day for less than $50, which is convenient and a great way to say money. However, to have clothes made so cheaply, there has to be a downside. There is usually a less than stellar work environment in India, or China where workers are paid very little for a lot of hard work in often unsafe conditions. The material itself is usually made of man-made fibres because it can be produced on a large scale without huge cost, but these materials don’t break down once they head to the landfill. Cheap garments fall apart quickly or fall out of fashion favour in a season so they cannot be on sold or donated to the charity shop, so they end up in the landfill where they stay as reminders of wild nights out and bad fashion decisions.
How to fight textile waste? Buy Australian made clothing and seek out natural fibres and materials. Think about investing in key pieces rather than a throwaway fashion approach.
Coffee has become a huge part of Australian culture. Most Australians crave a morning coffee from their favourite barista and enjoy long, lazy breakfasts and brunches in trendy cafes which overlook the water. There are even coffee weekends and expos, along with Instagram feeds full of photos of fancy coffees. Industry statistics state that Aussies consume 3kgs per capita in coffee beans, which is alot of caffeine! Most of us grab a takeaway cup without thinking, but this mounts up to hundreds of thousands of coffee cups being thrown away every day, and most cannot be recycled.
How do I reduce the amount of coffee cups going to landfill? Find a coffee shop which uses recyclable coffee cups, or better still, buy your own reusable coffee cup.
Did you know Australia has now overtaken the USA as the world’s largest consumers of meat? It’s true that there is nothing more Australian than a backyard BBQ, or a sausage sizzle from Bunning’s, but how much is too much? Intensive meat farming ravages the land and long food miles for transportation pumps CO2 into the atmosphere, not to mention the stress for animals moved as livestock and exports. Too much meat is also bad for your health.
How do Australians stop their meat addiction? Opt for one day a week meat free, your gut will thank you for it. Also think about where your meat is coming from. Buy RSPCA approved, and ethically sourced meat and buy local where you can to reduce food miles.
It can be scary to think about what we are shipping off to landfill every day and what damage our ravenous consumerism is doing to the land. There are a few simple steps each of us can take to reduce the volume of waste created. Recycle where you can, ensure that larger objects such as white goods are removed and disposed of safely. Use a reusable cup for your morning coffee, have one day a week meat free and choose meat sourced locally and ethically. Finally, choose to buy quality over quantity when it comes to clothing. Once you get into the reduce waste groove, it’ll become second nature and the planet will thank you for it.