Kimberley Dawson outlines 5 positive, practical actions you can take this year to save money and reduce your environmental impact.

Recycle your soft plastics

They can’t go in your yellow recycle bin in Brisbane, so what to do? The REDcycle group collects soft plastics and turns them into a range of products from fitness circuits to sturdy outdoor furniture.

Most Coles and Woolworths stores now have a REDcycle bin at the front of the store for depositing your items. You can recycle items like:

  • biscuit packets
  • bread bags
  • bubble wrap
  • cellophane
  • food packets
  • cereal packets
  • yoghurt squeeze pouches

You can find your closest outlet here and see REDcycle’s full list of recyclable soft plastic items here.

Start buying second-hand

Electronics

E-waste is one of the fastest-growing types of waste in Australia. But often you can get second-hand electronics at a steal compared to a new product. So, before you make your next electronic purchase and add to the waste stream, check Ebay or Gumtree and find a second-hand option.

Kitchen plastics

Head to your local op shop to look for any kitchen plastics you need second-hand. Plastic containers are prolific, and there is also a large online market selling brands like Tupperware second-hand at a fraction of the new piece.

Shop to a list

The more you visit grocery shops the more you actually spend on food overall, thanks to marketing ploys and shiny new products. Instead, start meal planning and then shop to a list. Shopping to a list might feel strange and new to you. Stick to it, and it will soon become a habit.

We suggest planning 5 out of 7 dinners and leaving 2 for leftovers, eating out and/or freezer meals. Don’t forget to do check your pantry and freezer to see what you already have and can use.

It’s easy to separate your shopping list by where you  purchase – markets, butcher, green grocer, supermarket and so on. Plan a monthly meat/fish or bulk store shop depending on your dietary needs and do you bit for the community by supporting independent grocers or markets.

Join a community garden or compost hub

Don’t have your own compost pile? Live in a unit and can’t have a garden? Or would you simply like to gain skills while getting involved in your local community? There are now over 40 community gardens all over Brisbane which you can join and reap the rewards.

Most require some effort, with jobs doled out on a monthly roster. But come the end of the season and you’ll be rejoicing in the joint bounty of fresh food! Find your closest community garden here.

If you’re too time-poor to join a community garden, but still want to start composting (but can’t maintain your own pile) check out the new Share-Waste program, which matches willing compost pile owners with budding composters who don’t have the ability to keep their own.

Start DIY habits

DIY can be as easy as making your own cleaning products, creating your own compost pile or creating your own lip balm. Here’s a few suggestions.

Make your own cleaning stuff

Cleaning products represent a large part of the weekly budget, and many of them can be made cheaper at home with less harmful chemicals. See Live for Less’ Tips for More Eco-Friendly Cleaning.

Learn bike basics

Bicycle Queensland runs 2-hour maintenance workshops which will keep your gears cranking for years to come. Check them out here.

Create your own skin products

There are a multitude of blogs dedicated to this, or if you like a more hands-on experience then Biome in Paddington runs a range of DIY workshops.