We all know it could have been so much worse without the unflinching commitment of our firies – fulltime and volunteer – to doing their very best, 24/7, to control these monster fire outbreaks. And what about the armies of selfless volunteers, more of whom appear every day to help out in small and big ways. It makes you proud to be an Aussie, and at the end of the day appreciate even more this fine country we live in.
We’re struggling to talk about holidays in Byron Bay while so many are struggling to come to terms with what’s happened to them and their environment. Rather we’re going to focus our January blogs to reminding us all – not in a preachy way – about what we can all do every day to protect this precious environment of ours. Mother Nature’s doing her bit to remind us that we’re all responsible. And yes it takes the will of pollies and an authentic bipartisan approach from them all to address the top line issues, but we all know too the power of one. We can all make a difference.
For us at The Bower we strive to make our hotel and your experience as sustainable as possible starting with solar power, proper sorting and recycling of waste, our energy consumption, saying goodbye to single-use plastics, recycling and upcycling products and so much more. We are constantly on the look out for things we can do better both at work and at home.
Recycle everything you can including plastic, cardboard and paper, aluminium cans, bottles.
Design your house or purchase a house that has factored passive cooling and heating.
Turn electrical items off at the power point as even when plugged energy is still being consumed.
Avoid eating meat. Meat consumption is increasingly regarded as the number one source of climate change
Use cold water when washing dishes and clothes.
Use washable cloths instead of paper serviettes/napkins.
Purchase rechargeable batteries so you can reuse. It’s a little dearer but it’s more sustainable.
Make your own cleaning products using bicarbonate soda, vinegar, water.
Prepare home cooked meals to avoid disposable takeaway plastic containers.
Save glass jars and reuse them. They make perfect containers, particularly for homemade jams and fermented foods.
When using the oven, plan to bake/cook several items at once. Baking just one item is a waste of gas/electricity.
Take shorter showers. Don’t leave water running unnecessarily. For example, when brushing your teeth.
Use ‘half’ flush when using the toilet to save water.
Invest in solar panels.
Use reusable washable rags— not paper towels— when cleaning up spills.
Before purchasing new, seek out second-hand items first such as furniture, clothing etc. There are some great bargains on eBay, Gumtree, Craigslist and ETSY if you are diligent enough to look.
Install a water-saving shower head.
By putting a sticker on your mailbox that states ‘No Junk Mail’ you can avoid paper waste. You can go one step further and contact those companies to remove you off their list.
Contact your utilities provider and other companies and request bills be sent via email.
Avoid using the clothes dryer and just line dry them instead.
Save all gift bags, gift boxes, bows and ribbons so that you can reuse them.
Instead of throwing out your veggie scraps, save them for a compost pile.
In winter, avoid using the heater where possible. Wear layers of clothing to keep you warm and throw on another blanket or doona cover on the bed when you sleep. It just so happens we have the cosiest, warmest bed linens, mattress toppers and doonas to snuggle up in year-round.
Reduce your consumption by following the minimalist lifestyle so that you only have things in your life that you value and actually use rather than accumulating items that you don’t use which adds to waste.
Mend clothes and try to fix items instead of just throwing it out.
Don’t wash clothes if you don’t need to. Does it really need washing? Will a spot clean do?
Don’t throw out materials and unwanted clothing. Donate it to charity, sell on eBay, have a garage sale or give to a designer that specialises in upcycling clothing. With the current bushfire crisis in Australia, people are collecting fabric to make pouches and bedding to rehabilitate injured and displaced animals. Better than the material being in landfill, right?
If you must purchase fashion items, choose items with the least environmental footprint such as eco-friendly fabrics (i.e. organic cotton, hemp), locally manufactured and ethically made.
Grow your own herbs, fruit and vegetables.
Use garden mulch as it protects the soil and conserves water.
Avoid synthetic fertilisers and pesticides and learn the principles of permaculture to grow your garden organically.
Purchase plants that are hardy and drought resistant, which is particularly important if you live in a drought-prone environments such as Australia
Pull weeds by hand or use chemical-free weed killers instead of using chemical herbicides.
Start your own compost pile and use it on your gardens.
If you’d like to keep your house cool in the summer, plant shade trees the side of the house that gets the most sun.
Plant fruit trees and herbs in your garden (if you have one) and encourage your neighbours to do the same. Communities with edible gardens foster great camaraderie. Create your own little trade market with your neighbours.
Avoid buying things that you don’t really need so you’re not adding to waste.
Bring reusable shopping bags when going shopping.
Take a reusable water bottle so that you’re not tempted to purchase one when you’re running errands.
Go to the farmers markets for your produce as you are more likely to avoid food items wrapped in plastic.
Avoid purchasing single-use disposable items such as plastic-wrapped vegetables.
Avoid purchasing products/brands that individually wrap and use excessive packaging.
Purchase items with longevity in mind. Even if a little dearer, it is better than the waste involved in buying cheaper items that constantly have to be replaced.
Buy items in bulk to avoid package waste. In Australia, shop at a zero waste store like the Source Bulk Foods.
When buying white goods and electrical items, read the energy star ratings and purchase the most energy-efficient you can afford.
Avoid plastic cling wrap and opt for storing food in reusable containers or make your own food wraps (bees wax wraps are a great option or Seed & Sprout’s range of food savers are fab too)
Purchase recycled paper for the printer.
Implement an office recycling program for paper, cardboard as well as print cartridges.
Encourage people to use their own mugs and cups rather than disposable cups when making coffee, tea or pouring from the water cooler.
Where possible provide people the opportunity to work from home. This will help to empower will help save on commuting time and costs.
If laptops are not in use, make sure they quickly go into energy-saving mode.
Check to see if odd bits of paper can be used as scrap paper.
Maintain a paperless environment where possible. For example, communications to be done via email and encourage people not to print their emails if unnecessary.
Use a scanner rather than posting or faxing to save paper.
Encourage staff to turn off their computers and laptops at the end of the day. Turn off all electrical items at the power point including lights.
Walk or cycle whenever possible.
If you need a car, purchase the most eco-friendly you can afford such as the Toyota Prius. Otherwise, do your homework and get a car that is economically fuel-efficient.
Carpool to and from work, or any other times it makes sense to.
Make sure your tyres are pumped up at all times as this affects fuel efficiency.
Keep your car serviced and maintained to gain maximum fuel efficiency.
If you are flying by plane, don’t forget to offset your carbon emissions. Most good airline companies provide this option.
Take cloth serviettes and handkerchiefs to avoid disposable napkins and tissues.
Don’t buy things you don’t need. You’ll be surprised how many souvenirs people return with that just sits in a cupboard gathering dust.
Where appropriate, don’t leave towels lying around as hotel staff will wash them. Only leave them out to be washed if necessary.
Where possible, commute on public transport, tourist buses or car pool rather than hiring private cars.
Make sure to pack everything you need such as your reusable coffee mugs, cups, water bottles, soap, shampoo and conditioner to avoid disposable items and plastic-wrapped soap and other hotel amenities.
Make sure to clean up after yourself wherever you go, especially when sightseeing in natural environments. It is sad when you visit places and there is rubbish and plastic that end up on the banks of rivers, beaches and other beautiful surroundings.
Avoid plastic straws when you order drinks at a pub, bar, restaurant. Remind the bar staff as they pour the drinks as it is often second nature for them to add a straw.
Don’t accept disposable cutlery such as forks, sporks and even chopsticks. Try to eat in where possible so that you are using ceramic dishes and proper utensils to avoid waste.
Say no to styrofoam at all times.
Take your reusable coffee cup to avoid the disposable ones.
Instead of buying new things for rare occasions, consider borrowing the items from family and friends instead. For example, if you are going camping and it’s something you don’t often do, borrow a tent and sleeping bags rather than buying new.