The reality of our refuse

When people ask me what I like most about living in Sydney I usually answer one of three things: the weather, the outdoor spaces, or the access to water. Our apartment is the perfect place to capture all of Sydney's beauty. We have a stellar bridge view, we’re right next to the water, and there’s lots of open air/outdoor fun for us to enjoy. I love walking out onto the deck and staring down into the beautiful green waters below. But every day I see the same thing... garbage.

Source: The Inertia

We’re not in a dirty or particularly polluted area, but there’s always at least one piece of refuse floating in the water below. Facing the reality of ocean pollution day after day after day has made a deep impression on me and the challenge of reducing my own contribution to waste is proving to be more difficult than anticipated.

As part of my first Lend A Voice project on ocean pollution, I've being doing more research on the issues facing oceans and marine life and what we can do to help. Curating and sharing information from leading environmental agencies is a crucial part of my project to help educate people on the issues. For the most part, the issues weren't unknown to me, but I didn't think this project would be such a personally challenging experience.

I've grown up with the ideology that recycling was good for the planet. In idea, yes, recycling is good, but throwing my refuse in a properly labeled bin doesn't actually make the world cleaner. In fact, recycling is a huge problem. [Watch: We recycle so much trash it's a crisis] Most of what we "recycle" isn't actually recycled, it's just shipped off to another country to deal with and likely ends up in a landfill. (Except for glass, but even that is cheaper to import than recycle.)

The hardest part of this journey is coming to terms with the reality of our consumption. Now, when I walk into a grocery store, all I can see is plastics and single-use packaging that will likely end up in my backyard. How much easier would it be to burry my head in the sand? I could just buy my food, pat myself on the back for recycling the packaging and be on my merry little way. But I can't unsee this! So what do I do?

Well, make a video about the issue is one thing! Sharing important resources via social media is another. Not beating myself up about the limited choices I have at the store is also probably important for my sanity.

As overwhelming as it is to deal with, knowing that I have some choice helps me make better decisions on a day to day basis. It may not save the ocean tomorrow, but sharing the little victories on the way may make it easier for someone else to join in.

Some changes I've made over the last year:

  • I'm much more diligent about bringing my reusable shopping bags with me. (I'd say 90% of the time now!)

  • I started bringing my swell bottle with me everywhere so I can refill my water.

  • I bought my husband a reusable coffee cup and give him strong side eye every time I see him not using it.

  • I buy sparkling water in glass containers with minimal plastic. (Not just because I'm fancy!)

  • I buy my groceries from a company that has banned single-use plastic bags at their stores. (For Australia, this is a big step.)

What can/do you do on a daily basis to reduce waste? What little victories do you have to share?

#LendAVoice #oceanpollution

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