Why your coffee habit could be harming the environment and 10 ways you can minimise your impact
Educating ourselves, using our voice and participating in the fight against climate change are some of the most important things we can do in our lifetime. As the debate grows within political realms as to what sort of impact we are having on our environment, we as consumers can play a vital role in making a difference. But what stops many of us from taking steps to minimise our carbon footprint? In many cases, it is the overwhelming belief that one person can’t make a difference.
But how wrong we are!
If growing a vegetable garden or placing solar panels on your roof is not a viable option for you, there are smaller yet equally significant changes you can make to your daily routines. Changes that can be likened to giving the earth a massive hug!
Say no to plastic water bottles
Did you know that Australian’s use an average of 14 billion plastic water bottles, soda bottles and beverage containers a year. Less than half of these soda containers end up in recycling plants, while more than 80% of water bottles end up in landfills or even more alarmingly in our oceans. In case you needed a more concrete number that is 370 million water bottles added to non recyclable waste annually. This makes up an estimated 38% of Australia’s total rubbish volume.
So what can you do? Simply say no to water bottles. Save your pennies and save the environment by investing in a BPA free or stainless steel bottles and carry it with you at all times. With most workplaces, coffee shops and public spaces offering filtered water on tap, there is no excuse not to.
Fix your coffee habit
So you have decided to quit plastic, we commend you. But did you know that your coffee habit could be contributing to an equal amount of waste and pollution? As the second leading source of landfill waste, a makeover to your morning coffee routine could make a vast difference to minimising waste.
Australian’s consume around 50 000 cups of coffee every hour. That means that every time you order a takeaway coffee, you are contributing to the use of an estimated 1 billion takeaway cups, the majority of which end up in landfills each year. That is because many seemingly recyclable coffee cups are actually lined with plastic. For those that are fully biodegradable, Australia’s existing composting facilities simply do not have the means to process this kind of volume effectively.
The solution? Well, it’s quite simple really! Invest in a stainless steel or glass tumbler and take it with you on all your coffee runs. Ask your local café if they are part of the responsible café movement. Receive a discount on your favourite hot beverage for bringing your own cup and not using the cafes.
Add a feel-good factor to your smoothies and protein shakesAs the 12th most common item reported by Clean Up Australia, plastic straws contribute to around 7% of the overall rubbish picked up by volunteers. While they may appear insignificant when compared to plastic bags and other debris, they pose a significant threat to animals and marine life that may ingest them. If you think that your smoothie straw won’t make a difference, then perhaps consider this alarming statistic. Australian scientists Denise Hardesty and Chris Wilcox have estimated that the world’s entire coastline is littered with as many as 8 billion straws.
Say no to plastic straws and opt for a paper option. If you want to minimise your impact on the environment, invest in stainless steel design straw or tumbler and make it part of your handbag repertoire. No shame in your game when it comes to saving the fragile environment.
Break up with plastic bags, but don't go running back to them on the weekends!
Now we know that this one is a bit of a no brainer. Plastic bags are about as outdated as crocs and socks, but truth be told, we all caught out doing a shopping run without our trusted recyclable bags from time to time. What do we reach for in the process? We reach for a heavy-duty bag on offer for 10 cents. While this is a small dent in our pockets, it is a big dent to the environment as these bags are often much thicker and take up to a thousand years to decompose.
Since Coles and Woolworths introduced a ban on single-use bags in 2018, the National Retail Association has reported an 80% drop in the use of plastic bags, which may prompt you to ask whether your occasional moment of weakness really matters? In spite of these laws, Australian's still use 10 million plastic bags every day, with reports suggesting that as many as ten thousand of these still ending up polluting the environment.
Know the difference between 'degradable' and 'biodegradable' packaging when seeking alternatives.
Knowledge is power. Before you reach for a degradable bag at your local supermarket under the assumption that it is the lesser of two evils, learn the difference between degradable and biodegradable.
While degradable plastic bags do break down, they do so into smaller pieces of plastic, making them even more dangerous to animals and marine life. That is because these degradable bags are still made out of plastic and simply disintegrate faster due to added chemicals.
Biodegradable bags and packaging, on the other hand, is made using plant materials and will break down into organic components with no impact on the environment.
If you invest in a cotton bag, make it count.
When choosing how to transport your shopping, also consider the energy that has gone into producing your bags and how often you should reuse them. Cotton bags offer one of the more environmentally friendly options. However, for every cotton canvas bag you purchase, it takes on average 131 times more resources and water to produce than a plastic bag. Once you have invested in one, make it count. Use and abuse it and keep it in your repertoire until it no longer serves its purpose.
Don’t leave your appliances hanging.
If you have a desire to reduce your carbon footprint, switching off your electronics is one of the most important things you can do. That means turning off the powerpoint and not just leaving your televisions and computers on standby. With appliances accounting for around 30% of all energy used by our homes, ensuring we minimise their impact plays a vital role in reducing our carbon output. The same can be said for switching off your lights when you leave the room. If not for the environment, Choice Australia reports that switching off your appliances can minimise your yearly power bill by around 3%.
Show your clothes some love – and the environment while you’re at it!
Did you know that you could minimise your carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 200 kilograms a year just by washing your clothes in cold water? Not only is this gentler on your clothes and colours, but it will also do wonders for the environment by minimising the powder used by your washing machine by as much as 90%.
Aside from opting for a cold cycle, you can also help reduce the impact of water runoff by choosing more environmentally friendly powder and liquid detergents.
Choose products that list all of their ingredients, and look for those that are 100% plant and mineral based. Biodegradable washing detergent options are now easier to reach than ever.
Turn off your taps
A running tap wastes more than 6 litres of water per minute, so you can imagine how much water we spend when brushing our teeth or lathering up in the shower. While it may seem like a daunting task, remembering to turn off your water in-between those crucial moments can make a massive difference to the environment, especially to areas prone to droughts and water shortages.
Consider the little steps that can significantly reduce your water usage. This includes ensuring your dishwasher and washing machine are fully loaded before you turn them on and fixing all those leaking and dripping taps.
Use your voice
One of the most powerful ways to make a change is to demand it from your local government, the brands you purchase from and from your inner circle. Speaking to your neighbours, family and friends and keeping the conversation going is key to bringing the plight to the forefront of people’s minds.
If you think one voice can’t make a difference, let HAPPY WAY be a shining example that it can. Our customers asked and we are now delivering more environmentally friendly packaging, practices and products.
So what is Happy Way doing about it?
If you have been with the Happy Way family for some time now, you will notice a few changes taking place within the company. That is because when our customers talk, we listen and what our customers have been asking for is a move towards more environmentally friendly packaging. The first step in this process has been swapping out all bubble wrap and plastic from our postage with eco-friendly, fully biodegradable nuggets. Made from wheat starch, these loose-fill products can even be added to your garden as compost. How cool is that!
The next step will be testing and sourcing the most ethical, biodegradable packaging for our supplements range. In recognising that this is not an overnight process, we have implemented the simple steps mentioned in this blog post throughout the HAPPY WAY warehouse and office.