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People Are Waking Up - the Growth in Eco Awareness

Posted by Tina Hart on

A new awareness is happening around the world and it excites me. I feel we are finally moving rapidly in the right direction. It is the awareness of our consumer world and how it affects the environment and all that exists naturally within it. It seems that suddenly people are becoming more aware of what we eat, what we do, what we buy and what we throw out - and how these simple daily acts exist in our routines. It is a multitude of messages pushed by so many on social media and now on mainstream TV.

Four episodes as well as repeats of “The War On Waste” have now aired on the ABC and around Australia it has made an impact on mainstream people's consumer awareness and their resulting behaviour. Either by stirring a thought already brewing in their mind or confirming what they already knew - that waste and where to put it is important and indeed a part of the new eco revolution.

For people who have already been fighting this war, and for a long time, it is a bit of a relief. We can finally have support and talk more about how we can change our consumption methods and reflect on how it effects the environment and our families. Personally I am excited to see more and more social media channels on alternatives to the disposable coffee cup, plastic straws, plastic wrap, plastic bags, plastic produce bags, toothbrushes and a lot more. Even packaging is being talked about and bad practices shamed on social media; for example when bananas packaged in plastic wrap are highlighted.

Despite the amazing surge in this type of eco information I am receiving a lot of emails and questions through my business as there remains a bit of confusion in regards to what is better for the environment in terms of disposable needs. Questions for example include what products are recyclable? What is compostable? Why does it matter as it all goes to landfill? How can I compost the products?

The eco conscious people who have been aware of healthy alternatives for years will argue that it is best to use reusable and paper bags provided they are FSC certified, to which I agree. But for a lot of people only now getting on the bandwagon this requires changing their long-standing habits - and it can be a big step.

I believe there needs to be a bridge between non-eco and eco practices to help people start their positive steps in regards to sustainability. So rather than jumping straight to reusables, there is still a place for compostable plastic. Having said that I would love to see a ban on the use of disposable plastic partyware altogether. Last year France passed the Energy Transition for Green Growth Act which has set a law to ban all single-use plastic cutlery, plates and cups by the year 2020. They will only allow disposable tableware made from 50% biologically-sourced materials that are compostable at home. If France can do this, why can't Australia?

We have written to Australian State and Federal Ministers seeking action to ban single-use plastic cutlery, cups and plates and we have received little response. When we do hear from the Ministers it is a widespread condemning of the idea.

The compassionate and motivated people behind the "Keep Cup movement", the "compostable toothbrush movement" and the "ban thin plastic bag movement" have built a receptive audience, so why can't we see this in banning single-use plastic cutlery, cups and plates as well.

I'm talking about the parties that happen at home, at parks and private function rooms. The 1stbirthday parties, engagements parties, weddings, Easter BBQ, Christmas etc. These parties happen regularly on weekends simultaneously around the world. Most parties usually only happen once or twice to individuals during the year and most people seem to be relaxed on the environmental issues it brings.

"Hey I only have a party once a year and I'm a good recycler", is the response. In reality most of these parties accumulate a lot of waste. Not just the cutlery, cups, plates and napkins but also the decorations, invitations, party favours and games. A lot of parties contain 'one time' use only items that are usually made from plastic or eco friendly products that go straight to the garbage bin and into landfill.

What can we do and what does this all mean? My aim here is to help people to party sustainably and give some thought and ideas to providing the resources to have a fun and beautiful party with the least impact on what goes to landfill. An appreciation of creativity and simplicity is the key to a successful party as well.