You’ve got your bamboo cup and have cut back on meat, so what now for the budding eco warrior? Try these next-level hacks.
Not you, obviously: we mean your products. There’s a growing trend for waterless beauty and cleaning products in bar, powder or sugar-cube-like formats to mix with water at home. According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, a charity that promotes a circular economy, a typical bottle of household cleaner is 90 per cent water! Going waterless means reducing the (usually plastic) packaging, as well as the size and weight, and therefore transport emissions. Check out some brands like Sea Our Beauty and Ethique.
Be Less Delicate
Washing synthetic fabrics (hello, gym gear) unleashes microfibres (microscopic pieces of plastic) into the environment. One piece of clothing can release 700,000 fibres in a single wash, which can then find their way to the sea.
Researchers at the UK’s Newcastle University found that a delicate wash cycle releases more microfibres than a standard one because it uses more water, which breaks off more fibres. So, opt for a non-delicate setting for your activewear and try washing clothes in a Guppyfriend bag – it gathers up fibres before they make a break for the ocean. Gotcha.
Be Med Aware
Sixty nine: the number of human pharmaceuticals researchers found in the bodies of aquatic insects in waterways around Melbourne. No prizes for guessing this isn’t good news.
“Some medications pass through our system and, once in the environment, they have the potential to change how streams and rivers function,” explains researcher Dr Erinn Richmond from the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University.
“For example, antidepressants can alter how algae produce oxygen.” Obviously the answer isn’t to ditch any medicines you need, but try to avoid bulk-buying ones you’re not sure you’ll use (we see you, out-of-date paracetamol stash). And another thing: “Please don’t wash unwanted or expired medication down the drain or flush them down the toilet,” says Richmond. “Return them to a local pharmacy for safe disposal.” Noted.
Next time you’re eyeing up a new fitness tracker or phone, check how easy it is to take apart.
“A big sustainability issue is products with embedded batteries. As soon as the battery dies, the whole product is redundant,” says Dr Rachael Wakefield-Rann, Senior Research Consultant at Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures. Only about 3 per cent of handheld batteries get recycled in Australia; the rest end up in landfill where harmful chemicals leach out and pollute soil and water. Planned obsolescence is rife in tech, with products designed with a limited lifespan to keep you shopping. “Ask, can I pull this apart to repair it? Are the screws glued in? What’s the company’s end-of-life policy? Will they take it back and recycle it?” says Wakefield-Rann. You may be surprised: sex toy company Normal will actually recycle retired toys for you.
Dodge the BPS Bluff
That BPA-free sports bottle of yours might not be as innocuous as it looks. BPA hit the headlines when it was revealed the chemical, used to make plastic, can impact the developmental and reproductive health of animals such as fish (not to mention human health). While brands now shout about being BPA-free, Wakefield-Rann explains that “BPA has just been replaced by BPS in most things” – referring to another similar chemical from
the same family.
“[Manufacturers] often look for a chemical that has similar properties, so they don’t have to reformulate the product – but if it’s chemically similar, then it’s likely to have the same damaging impact.” Your best bet? Avoid – and grill companies about whether their products contain – any bisphenols (the chemical category both BPA and BPS fall into). Or, switch to glass or metal instead – we’re fans of Ever Eco’s stainless steel bottles.
Update Your Gym Kit wIth These Finds
These cuties are made with environmentally friendly dye and feature non-slip grips. Available in a pack of three, from light to heavy.
Nutra Organics Resistance Bands, $29.95, nutraorganics.com.au
Made with 78 per cent recycled material, these moderate-to-heavy flow leggings hold the equivalent of two to three tampons (or three teaspoons) of fluid.
Modibodi 7/8 Recycled Active Legging, $99, modibodi.com
Naked Harvest ditches the plastic scoop and ships in environmentally-friendly packaging, while Nutra Organics uses 100 per cent plastic-free recyclable canisters.
Naked Harvest Natural Pre-workout, $52.95, nakedharvestsupplements.com, and Nutra Organics Clean Energy Natural Pre Workout, $49.95, nutraorganics.com.au
This gut-friendly blend of sprouted and fermented pea, brown rice, coconut and pumpkin seed proteins comes in a canister that’s less carbon intensive than steel cans and glass. It contains no plastic, either. Winning.
Nutra Organics Clean Protein in Salted Caramel Fudge, $49.95, nutraorganics.com.au