Psst! Want to know how to save more than $1000 a year without sacrificing a thing?
Stop throwing away edible food.
Australians discard up to 20 percent of the food we buy – that’s around $1,036 of food thrown away per household each year.
A total of around $8 billion worth of edible food is thrown out by Aussies each year.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
A WHOLE LOT OF RUBBISH
That food is just part of the 41 million tonnes of rubbish we throw out each year – that’s 1.9 tonnes per person.
The food and other rubbish sit in the landfill producing carbon dioxide, methane (which is a greenhouse gas that is a big contributor to global warming) and leachate – a thick liquid that forms when garbage decomposes. If the leachate gets into groundwater it can poison us and the food we eat.
When we talk in terms of cost – $8 billion worth of edible food – that doesn’t even take into account the side costs – use of water and fuel to produce food and fuel used to transport and then store food.
The statistics for plastic are no prettier.
Of the 6 million tonnes of rubbish dumped in oceans throughout the world, around 80 per cent is plastic.
Aside from the ugliness, it is believed more than 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles are killed worldwide by plastic each year.
More than 420,000 recyclable plastic bags are dumped in Australian landfills EVERY HOUR.
In fact, Australians use enough plastic bags each year that if they were tied together they would stretch around the world 24 times.
The estimated cost to governments, businesses and the community for cleaning up littered plastic shopping bags is around $4 million each year.
When it comes to littering, beverage containers, especially plastic bottles, top the list in Australia, along with cigarette butts.
Despite the fact there is no real evidence that bottled water is purer than tap water, Australians keep buying it, and often thoughtlessly discard the plastic bottles, which are derived from crude oil.
It can actually take up to three litres of water to produce one litre of water contained in PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles.
When the spring water used for bottled water is extracted, it disrupts the water flow, affecting the surrounding environment.
Though they are recyclable, many plastic bottles end up in landfill where they will take 1000 years to break down. Others end up in the oceans and rivers, breaking and killing marine life that mistakes the pieces for food.
NOT ALL BAD NEWS
As horrible as the numbers are, the news isn’t all bad.
Australians have become better at recycling. In the past 20 years, the amount of garbage recycled by households has increased from 15 per cent to 95 per cent.
Every year, more than 500,000 Australians volunteer to clean up various sites around the country.
In fact today, students from schools all around the country will join forces to take part in Schools Clean-Up Day.
Businesses already had their turn on Tuesday and on Sunday, volunteers from the community will don gloves and walk parks, bushland, beaches, rivers, creeks and roadways to pick up and remove the rubbish.
This amazing campaign that started with one man’s desire to keep his home, Sydney Harbour, clean has morphed into a worldwide campaign involving an estimated 35 million people from 130 countries.
When Ian Kiernan AO, chairman and founder and of Clean Up Australia and Clean Up the World, saw the great response to Clean Up Sydney Harbour in 1989, he decided to see what could be achieved by getting the whole county involved and in 1990 more than 300,000 volunteers participated in the first Clean Up Australia Day.
Encouraged by the great response in Australia, he then organised, in conjunction with the United Nations Environmental Program, Clean Up the World, which operates during a weekend in September.
Last year, an estimated 302,215 tonnes of rubbish was removed during the Clean Up Australia campaign. Around 80 per cent of it was recyclable.
As well as trying to reduce/recycle plastic bags and bottles, the Clean Up campaign has worked toward proper recycling of unused mobile phones.
It is estimated there are around 23.5 million unused handsets in Australia.
Each mobile phone contains a deadly cocktail of toxic elements that, if leaked into groundwater from landfill sites, could pose serious health problems to us all.
Around 94 per cent of the materials in mobile phones can be recycled.
Check out my post How To Win By Avoiding The Bin for some recycling projects and links.
Happy cleaning and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.