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54 ways to start your ‘one eco step’ toward sustainability

The theme for 2018 is ‘One Eco Step’, as the Eco Expo is not about pushing drastic measures but instead encouraging each of us to take just one step toward a sustainable lifestyle.

Join the eco movement at this marketplace buzzing with businesses showcasing innovative products or familiarising the public with their ‘one step’ toward sustainability. Visit the Brisbane Eco Expo

With society’s current focus on being environmentally friendly, earth conscious and sustainability focused, it can sometimes be challenging to know what exactly you can do in your day to day life to do your small part to help the environment. We are encouraging you to take #oneecostep, one (or two!) small, achievable ways you can do your part and make a difference without disrupting your daily life or breaking the bank.

While some people go above and beyond to live a sustainable, eco-friendly life, we acknowledge that that simply isn’t an option for everyone. So, choose a few small, simple changes to your daily routine that can make all the difference to our earth if we all pitch in – we can’t be perfect, but we can be better.

Event initiatives to encourage #oneecostep include free giveaways of native trees, ‘Eco Pledges’, ‘Eco Swag Bags’ for the early-birds, a ‘Chemical-Free’ zone, an ‘Eco Brunch’, plus special guest speakers with sustainability masterclasses, demonstrations and seminars.

The path to worldwide sustainability may be a long one, but it only takes #oneecostep to start! Here’s some ideas for you to try:

Purchasing/ as a consumer:

  • Always carry a re-usable cotton bag. Keep them in your car for impromptu grocery trips
  • If you break something, consider having it fixed rather than buying a new one
  • Check second hand stores and Salvation Army, St Vincent De Paul for items before purchasing new
  • Do your research on brands. If you must buy something new, see if there is a company which uses recycled materials or employs sustainable practices
  • Read your labels – does the product you are buying contain palm oil?
  • Organic food – less chemicals
  • When buying gifts, consider giving ‘green gifts’ ie. Give a houseplant as a house warming gift rather than gifting kitchenware etc.

Reduce your use of plastic

  • Refuse pre-wrapped and packaged vegetables at shopping centres
  • Don’t bag your fruit and vegetables, keep them loose
  • Don’t use straws or invest in a re-useable metal or glass straw
  • Always carry reusable bags and refuse plastic bags if you can carry your groceries
  • Carry a reusable water bottle instead of buying water in single use bottles
  • Say no to disposable cutlery and straws
  • Dine in! Reduce takeaway plastic by taking some time out and enjoying a dine-in dinner (you’ll also be supporting a local business).

Out and about

  • Walk, cycle or take public transport when possible
  • Pick up rubbish when you see it – see the ‘Take 3 for the Sea’ project
  • Make sure you still recycle/separate waste while out and about – if there aren’t the appropriate bins, take your rubbish home with you to recycle, and consider emailing your local council to suggest they provide the bins.
  • Add ‘Refuse’ to ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’. It can be easy to get caught up in accepting freebies while out and about – but if you genuinely won’t use the item being offered (do you have a drawer full of promotional pens that are slowly drying up, unused?) then politely refuse the item.

In the Home

  • Try to only do your laundry when you have a full load (same goes for the dishwasher) and always wash on a cold cycle
  • Line dry your clothes rather than using the dryer
  • Switch older lightbulbs over to LED bulbs. These are more energy efficient and need to replaced less often!
  • If you are purchasing new white goods, seek one which has the best power rating, or first look on Gumtree/Facebook Marketplace.
  • Go paperless. Switch your bills and bank statements to be received by email
  • Switch your appliances off at the wall
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle! Make sure the whole family is on board, and explain what needs to be done to your kids if they are unsure.
  • Try to re-home or donate items which you no longer want rather than throwing it out – just make sure they are in good condition!
  • Buy houseplants. Houseplant’s help filter toxins in the air and produce oxygen. There are plenty of groups and forums online which encourage the buying and swapping of plant cuttings and young plants.
  • Put a “No Junk Mail” sign on your mailbox. Not only will this save you from having to sort through dozens of unwanted catalogues, it also saves the material they are printed on.
  • Buy items like cleaning products in a concentrate to be mixed and laundry powders in bulk where possible.
  • Open a window before turning on the ceiling fan or airconditioner
  • Ensure you are disposing of batteries, ink cartridges, old mobile phones or laptops properly. Use Planet Ark’s Website to find where you can recycle difficult items. Aldo often also has battery bins.

In the Kitchen

  • Switch to eco-friendly cleaning products. Or, if you are willing to take one extra step – make your own!
  • Use old towels, shirts etc. as rags to use in the kitchen instead of paper towels. An old shirt will clean up a spill just as well!
  • Reduce your use of coffee pods and switch to compostable teabags or loose leaf tea.
  • Only use washable and reusable containers to store your food and consider reusable beeswax food wraps to replace plastic wraps
  • You don’t have to commit to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle to reduce your carbon footprint and cut back on meat consumption. Consider going meat free one or two days a week.
  • Many health food stores allow you to bring your own containers to buy items such as honey, nut butters and flours. An added bonus – these items tend to be organic!

Personal Care/ Bathroom

  • As your current products run out, switch to facial cleansers, moisturisers and other skin products that use organic ingredients.
  • Avoid purchasing any products which contain microbeads or microplastics. These are tiny plastics which are often found in facial exfoliants, toothpaste and other beauty products. These end up being washed into the ocean and are consumed by fish – some of which we in turn end up eating! Instead, consider purchasing exfoliants that contain natural nut kernels and natural toothpastes.
  • Consider switching to a toilet paper brand which uses recycled materials
  • Consider switching to reusable and washable or organic feminine hygiene products
  • Replace your disposable razors with reusable ones. They last longer, reduce waste and are cheaper in the long term.
  • Consider using a handkerchief instead of tissues
  • Use a face cloth to remove your make-up rather than using single-use make-up wipes or cotton rounds.

In the backyard

  • Avoid using chemicals and pesticides in the garden or on the lawn. Seek natural alternatives instead.
  • Plant trees and seasonal flowers if possible, which can encourage native bee and bird life as well as producing oxygen
  • Start a compost bin. This can help with food wastage and provide a natural fertilizer for the garden.
  • Plant a herb garden. This helps reduce plastic packaging and food waste from bunches of herbs purchased at supermarkets. Even if you have a small backyard or apartment, herbs can be grown from pot plants or planters.

Fast Fashion

  • Opt for local, handmade products when possible
  • Buy clothes made from natural, degradable fabrics such as cotton, silk, wool and bamboo
  • Mend or alter clothes when possible rather than throwing them out

In the Community

  • Make a mindful effort to shop locally. Whether it is local food and produce, the local florist, gift shop or nursery, buying local counts
  • Start a monthly litter pick up in your neighbourhood.
  • Offer surplus home-grown fruit, vegetables and herbs to other neighbours. You never know what you might get in return
  • Educate your children on the importance of recycling and not littering