We have begun the start of a new decade and as always it’s a time for reflection, and a look forward.
2019, maybe unlike any year to date in our memory, saw events that have shaped much of the discussion around the environment and our impact.
Personal habits we have formed over years, and haven’t really thought about, are having a huge impact on the environment. Climate change is real, but not unsolvable. There are many small steps we can all take that, collectively, make a big difference. It is time to re-shape the habits of a lifetime.
We all have habits that we have tried to break, sometimes failing miserably. Other habits are so entrenched they are completely instinctual.
Behaviours we repeat are etched into our neural pathways, and it's by that repetition that new habits can be formed and maintained - even habits we have unhealthy fostered and fuelled for years, can be broken.
At a glance - Australia’s Environmental Habits
Australia ranks 13th in the world on Green Peace’s “Greendex”. While we have shown some improvement since 2012, with our concern for the environment rising, on the whole as a nation, we are still sceptical about the effects of climate change.
The rest of the world, in comparison, has shown increasing trust with climate change science.
According to Greenpeace Australians are:
- More likely to own cars or trucks (land mass and lack of infrastructure a reality here!)
- And therefore among the least likely to use public transport, walk or bicycle
- We are the most frequent consumers of lamb
- Among the most frequent consumers of beef
- More likely to eat imported food frequently
- Less likely to avoid excessive packaging & environmentally unfriendly products
However, conversely, we are also:
- More likely to grow food at home
- Among the least frequent consumers of bottled water
- Less likely to consume packaged foods
- Among the most likely to wash clothes in cold water
- Among the most likely to put heating & cooling settings on low to save energy
So where do you sit individually?
It can be difficult to understand where your habits sit in the scheme of things.
And it’s easy to become complacent and think - 'how much impact can one person have?'
The answer may come as a surprise to you. It did to us!
Measure your environmental footprint here.
How can we individually reduce our footprint?
They key is replacement, not elimination. Breaking habits that are entrenched in our daily life, and replacing them with more sustainable ones.
We know that reusable cups and containers, limiting plastic and walking to work when we can, are great steps in the right direction. What other behaviours have you adopted without thought that can have a negative impact on our environment, and what are the simple steps you can take to change those habits?
Tips to Successfully Change Habits
It only takes on average 66 days to form a new habit (you might just need a few reminders along the way):
- Set your washing machine to a cold cycle - put a masking tape reminder on the washing machine so you don't forget in a Saturday morning slumber
- Eat a plant-rich diet - set a phone alert to remind you to get along to the local farmers market and make your first stop the organic stall.
- Ditch the plastic wrap and keep beeswax alternatives in the same kitchen drawer. Hello new sustainable sandwich solution!
- Compost! Buy a snazzy compost bin and have it front and centre on your kitchen bench - a habit that will instantly reduce your carbon footprint).
- Start a sustainable toothbrush subscription (a habit in this case is formed instantly and no effort required! #winning).
- Compile a car kit with all your eco-friendly essentials; reusable shopping bags, cutlery, water bottle etc. Pop a reminder by your keys so there is no excuse to leave with your new eco-essentials behind.
Surround yourself with sustainable people
You are a reflection of those around you and often, when changing your lifestyle you need to widen your net a little bit. Local or online communities are a great place to start.
Power to the people
We can’t afford to think that it’s up to the government or large industry to lead environmental change. We all have a role to play. Small individual steps forward, will collectively make the difference.
Being accountable is important, and keeps you on track. The first step of accountability may be taking the carbon footprint quiz to gain an understanding about where you actually sit. The second may be taking an environmental pledge.
Everyone begins their sustainable journey at different times, and at different levels, and it's important to assume that everyone is doing the best that they can at that stage.
Remember too, that nobody is perfect. Put steps in place to ignite new habits today. But don't beat yourself up when you slip up, and you will! What is important is moving forward in a sustainable direction, not perfection.
We are all continually growing, learning and being educated and we should help foster that growth in ourselves and those around us.
Our planet depends on it.