When you really think about it, there is no such thing as waste. If we are really honest, waste is simply stuff we no longer want or need. But what if, when you purchased something, you factored in the consideration of its residual impact? (ie: the waste created by the product you purchased, if any.) Ironically, there are so many ways to think about waste that the very act of doing something about it is a global industry. It's also a big industry because we are creating a fucking big pile of waste, every second, every where.
IF YOU HAVE HEARD THE TERM 'CIRCULAR ECONOMY', YOU JUST JOINED IT BY ADOPTING THIS MINDSET.
There are many many places to start and the best place to start is anywhere. Anywhere that makes sense in your life. Possible the most excellent 'anywhere' place to start is packaging because it is the most pervasive, but one we think of the least.
The problem with packaging is that we see past it. Mentally, we buy shampoo, not a plastic bottle. Of course we now know that the plastic bottle lives on, way after the shampoo has gone. Packaging not only costs planet resources, but it often costs more than the stuff inside it. And that's why it's the best place to start an awareness journey.
Packaging can be single wrapping - the packet something comes in (glass, plastic, tin, nothing) and or if it is shipped, it is temporary double wrapping (bubblewrap, plastic bag, paperboard etc).
These options for home and office packaging help you make better choices. They are in order of most least worst to least least worst for consumables:
Some stores will take back containers for recycling, especially things like shampoo and cosmetic containers. Biome Eco Stores in Brisbane will take any of your body product packaging, not just their own products. (Note: Compostable plastics do not go into recycling. Hard plastics go in your council recycle bin - apply the scrunch test.)
Unless you grow and make something yourself, pretty much everything is shipped at some point. While you cannot easily influence trucking / logistics supply chain shipping, you can often choose what something is shipped to you in - and that does influence the specific shipping packaging supply chain. You just have to ask.
Australia Post recently reported that under coronavirus lockdown, parcels are criss-crossing the country at a rate equivalent to Christmas - two million parcels a day. And that is just Australia Post's network, accounting for a whole pile of GHG emissions.
Sendle joined the delivery market in Australia in 2016 and harnessed the incredibly wasteful courier network. Sendle fill empty trucks going back home to deliver their parcels and challenge Australia Post on both cost and carbon neutrality. (Australia Post finally responded to the Sendle challenge in September 2019 and purchased carbon credits to offset their delivery network.)
Shipping parcels is a big big short life packaging user. Many eco sellers - we could list hundreds, like Bare Body Beauty, Eorth, Bare Beauty Essentials and A Wicked Scrub recycle packaging from others for their shipping. In the broader supply chain market, there are now compostable bubble wrap satchels and delivery satchels in the market.
When you are buying online and aren't offered compostable or recycled options, we'd encourage you to let your favourite supplier know about the alternatives. If your supplier has any kind of climate and planet awareness, they will appreciate your advice. There are heaps of shipping and packaging options for businesses on ekko.world.
One excellent way to organise your waste and have your team members be aware of it, is to have a bin for every waste exit point. Use a small bin, not a big one as size signals acceptable contents. It also keeps the bin clean and unsmelly because it has to be emptied often. The only exception is Exit Point 5 because the size of your other bins should be enough to carry about 2 pairs of shoes.
REMEMBER EVERY SUCCESSFUL STEP COUNTS. YOU LEARN FROM FAILURES, WHICH ARE WORTH HALF A STEP ANYWAY FOR TRYING.
Managing your own waste into non existence or into something more useful has names like Circular Economy | Cradle to Cradle etc. You may know what these terms mean or have seen them around (and Ellen Macarthur Foundation has a great summary of their history and champions), but they all relate to one thing. Designing the end of something's life into its existence.
Congratulations, you just joined a global movement with a fancy name to help save the planet.