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Cultivate waste reduction habits

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The average Australian household wastes more than $1,000 every year purchasing items they never use. So use what you buy, buy less and save.

A 2005 paper by The Australia Institute (Wasteful Consumption in Australia) found that Australians waste over 10.5 billion dollars annually on goods and services that are "never or hardly ever used". The majority of this is food purchased and thrown out (over 5 billion dollars per annum). If you consider the resources (water, energy and money) we are simply tossing out, it's staggering and more than a little tragic. So we need to lift our game and become frugal, humble and respectful consumers of nature's limited resources… and we can pick up that extra thousand as we pass go, every year.

How to do it now!

Some simple ideas to get your creative processes rolling:

  • eat all the fresh and take away food you purchase
  • buy a lunchbox for leftovers and take it to work
  • have a couple of 'clear out the fridge' meals prior to the next big shop
  • plan your meals in advance so you know exactly what and how much you need to buy when you go grocery shopping
  • get better at only buying what you will use
  • pause every time you go to buy clothes, shoes and ask yourself if you have used up the gear you already have and if you really need more stuff
  • pay off all high-interest credit cards and accounts to save on credit interest
  • visit an older relative and ask them how they avoid wasting things (they are often better at it than the younger generation)
  • avoid disposable batteries. Use mains electricity rather than batteries if possible. If not, use rechargeable batteries.

For more help and inspiration in reducing waste check out these resources:

  • Love Food Hate Waste - NSW Government, Environment, Climate Change and Water
  • “Affluenza – when too much is never enough” by Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss, Allen & Unwin, 2005.
  • “Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence” by Joe Dominquez and Vicki Robin, Penguin, 1992.

Why is this action important?

At the core of the environmental issues facing the world today are affluent consumers and their lack of understanding of the environmental and related costs of the things they consume. Being conscious of the social, environmental and financial implications of waste created through our own consumption decisions can better enable you to reduce these impacts – and make the world a healthy, more sustainable place!