TDF spruiking ‘Sustainability‘ – don’t avert (or roll) your eyes just… yet!
After talking support-local and smart-design for a decade, today we launch a new column highlighting great products you can buy, and easy, simple actions you can take to reduce your impact on the environment.
First up, we’re focusing on ditching disposables, in favour of reusable products for your work day.
Here we share the first installment in a new series offering up easy ideas to reduce your waste and environmental impact – honing in on water, coffee, and lunch!
Specifically, we’re recommending a handful of products in each of these categories that replace the need for disposable alternatives, because disposables are a waste of finite resources and present serious waste management problems. What’s more, several of the vessels we’re recommending are made with sustainably-sourced raw materials and are free of environmentally-detrimental chemicals, both in terms of ingredients and manufacturing processes.
The most impressive products in our roundup are also crafted locally, cutting down on freight emissions and supporting local businesses. While it’s not always feasible to produce certain items in Australia, if we purchase Australian-made sustainable, we’re also supporting our local design and manufacturing industries to increase their capacity and expand their offerings!
Mainly, we’ve introduced this series to highlight just how easy it can be to do better, without great expense, effort or compromise on quality or style. We hope it inspires you to replace disposable products with reusables today, for a better tomorrow!
Reusable Water Bottles
Plastic water bottles were first introduced to Australia in the late 1980s, and these days we’re wasting billions of dollars per year on them! It’s not the monetary cost of the product that’s most mind-boggling, though, but the expenditure of resources involved in the water sourcing, bottle manufacture, and transportation.
The fact is it takes three to seven litres of water, and one litre of oil (a little less when the International Bottled Water Association is crunching the numbers yet even much more in other studies) to produce one litre of bottled water. This creates over 60,000 tons of greenhouses gases a year in Australia alone, without even factoring in what happens to the ‘recyclable’ bottles after consumption.
Typically bottles are not recycled properly, If at all, and end up in landfill, taking some 1,000 years to biodegrade. When they are recycled correctly, the vast majority are dispatched overseas to third-world nations to be ‘downcycled’, which in turn leads to more discarded waste and toxic pollution by way of incineration.
What about those new lightweight plastics? Nope, these are just as bad, if not worse for our oceans says The Boomerang Alliance. And it’s really a weak case when you consider that Australian tap water is higher quality and subject to more stringent testing than bottled alternatives.
The best option is a simple one: turn to your own refillable bottle – be it made of sleek glass, sturdy aluminum, reusable plastic, or otherwise.
Retap Glass Water Bottle, 500ml, ($34.95) from Magnation.
S’well Drink Bottle 500ml ($59.95).
Your standard home/office/café drinking glass – conserve your own porter energy by taking a moment to hydrate before heading out. If in urgent need, before you reach for a plastic disposable, put on a smile and ask a cafe owner for a glass from the tap.
Coffee cups are the second-largest contributor to litter waste after plastic bottles, so they demand our attention next.
It’s estimated that Australians use 1 billion disposable coffee cups each year. Melbournians, did you catch the War on Waste’s #BYOCoffeeCup tram packed with 50,000 foam coffee cups? For Australians, that’s just 30-minutes worth; but it managed to make my 5:05pm tram look roomy, for once!
The main issue is that, due to their plastic lining, disposable coffee cups are non-recyclable and do not biodegrade if they end up in landfill, aside from the havoc they can wreak out on open land, and in waterways and oceans.
Any mug in the office – our Robert Gordon old-faithfuls have made many an excursion to our favourite local cafe (who offer a discount for bring-your-own, like all good ones). Just don’t get greedy with the fill level!
Lunchboxes + Bags
Here we have the perfect example of our parents being waste warriors way before the eco-pocalypse was on everyone’s radar!
Packing a lunch minimises your impact in a number of ways: it encourages you to both purchase ingredients and cook in greater bulk, reducing your packaging waste as well as energy use (driving-to-the-shops plus cooking consumption – double points!). If you need some menu inspiration, look no further than our recipe archives.
Once the food is made, there’s the getting it to work safely. Or, if you’re anything like our team, without having it leak all through your much-loved *white* Ladies of Leisure canvas tote or investment A-esque carryall! That’s where these reusable –not single-use plastic nor coated foam/cardboard – marvels come in…
Glass ‘BeetBox’ Lunchbox 850ml ($49.95) from BeetBox – A Melbourne start-up, brought to you by the co-founder of KeepCup!
Stacker + Pod Lunch Box Set ($44) from Seed & Sprout.
Brown ‘Paper’ Lunch Bag ($34.95) from Upcycle Studio.
Insulated Lunch Bag ($34) from Seed & Sprout.
*If you didn’t get around to preparing your own lunch, take any of the above along with you to your local lunch provider.
This story was originally published on The Design Files, September 11th, 2018.
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