Be An Imperfect Environmentalist

Be An Imperfect Environmentalist

Be An Imperfect Environmentalist

Written by Julia Schafer

So you want to have a Greener home, and live a more sustainable life and yet when you look at the world around you and the plastic pollution problem which sits heavy on your heart like a big plastic iceberg you think to yourself, “how can one man/woman really make a difference?”  Let me introduce you to the concept of Imperfect Environmentalism, where a single change can make a huge difference, particularly if many humans make small changes too.

Just the other day my husband was washing up some dishes in the sink in our newly renovated kitchen (I know, how lucky am I!) when he asked “Where is the dishwashing liquid?”  I pointed to the little bar of white soap sitting on a bamboo rack and said “Here it is.  This is what I use now, it’s dish soap.”  His quizzical expression was priceless but I must admit that even though I’ve been trying to rid my household of plastic waste for years it wasn’t until recently when a lovely Australian company sent me a dishwashing soap bar to review, that I even knew that was a thing!  I explained to my husband how you run it under the tap or swoosh it around in the water or even rub the dishcloth on the bar to get the lather up to do the dishes.  He was not convinced but followed my instructions and was really pleased with the result.  I secretly mused to myself about old dogs and new tricks and was quietly pleased that I was now able to rid our household of yet another plastic bottle.

Being an Imperfect Environmentalist is all about giving a sustainable option a go.  It will either fit with your family or it won’t but then you move on to the next thing and eventually several of these alternatives will become part of your family’s new normal.

June and July are great months to start your journey to Imperfect Environmentalism, with World Environment Day on June 5th, World Oceans Day on June 8th, Plastic Free July and National Tree Day on July 31st.  So let's Ignite your passion for a cleaner, greener Planet by choosing one sustainable swap to mark each of these occasions on the World Environmental Event Calendar.

Here are some easy ones to get started with.  For World Environment Day try swapping out shampoo and conditioner in bottles for shampoo and conditioner bars.  Now before you say “But Julia I’ve tried these before and they left my hair feeling like straw!” I get it, I had that experience too, but let me assure you that the market has changed and there is now a myriad of wonderful shampoo and conditioner bars available online and in stores.  I use ethique which you can order directly through their website or buy at your local Priceline store.  One shampoo bar replaces up to three plastic bottles of shampoo and the conditioning bar lasts and lasts so I’m sure it probably replaces closer to five bottles for me.  To keep the bar dry I put it up out of the water stream in the shower on a stainless steel rack and that means the bar lasts even longer.  So far my son is using the bars too but I’m yet to convince my husband.  One step at a time, at least I’m two thirds there.

For World Ocean’s Day try swapping out microfibre cloths for bamboo fibre cloths.  Did you know that a study done in 2011 by research scientist Mark Brown from the University of NSW found that microfibres make up 80% of man-made waste that is strewn along the coastlines of our oceans around the world!  That’s a scary statistic, given that in my local hardware store just the other day I saw one-kilo bags of microfibre cloths for $10 and can just imagine how many handy ladies and hubbies have grabbed them up thinking they are such a bargain and not realising the impact they are having on the environment.  Bamboo fibre cloths are just as effective, don’t release harmful plastics into the waterways when you wash them and can be composted down once they have finished their useful life.

Plastic Free July has been going since 2011 and has become a global movement.  On their website, Plastic Free are all sorts of tips and suggestions about how you can reduce your family’s waste.  But for starters, I would like to suggest using a reusable bread bag instead of collecting plastic bread bags each time you buy a loaf of bread.  If your family goes through a couple of loaves a week of bread, then add to that; rolls, hamburger buns, hot cross buns and all the other bread variations, by using a bread bag you could save a couple of hundred plastic bags from going into landfill!  Reusable bread bags can be purchased commercially, online or in some health food shops but if you are the slightest bit crafty you can fashion a simple one by sewing two tea towels together leaving the top open and adding a piece of ribbon or tape a few centimetres down the side to be able to fasten the bag.  When I use mine at the bakery I always get comments from fellow shoppers, and my bakery now expects not to send me home with any plastic when I pop in each week.

Lastly to celebrate National Tree Day let's plant a pot of herbs that you use regularly so as to avoid those plastic tubes of herb paste, or cellophane wrapped bunches that you pick up at the supermarket.  Whether you go through parsley-like it's going out of fashion, basil, oregano or chives, you will find it so much more rewarding to harvest these from your own herb garden or planter and will know that they haven’t been sprayed by any nasty chemicals on the way to your kitchen.

I’m hoping you will get behind these four suggestions this June and July and that they help to ignite your passion to be involved in the Imperfect Environmentalist movement because one person can make a difference and help to leave a lighter footprint on the Planet.

Be An Imperfect Environmentalist Be An Imperfect Environmentalist Be An Imperfect Environmentalist

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