Between work or running a business, driving the kids to activities, thinking about what to cook for dinner, and mentally checking off our endless to do list, the environment can often take a backseat in our daily thoughts.
Not to mention, environmental news stories can leave us feeling a little hopeless and helpless, worrying about the issues our children and grandchildren might inherit.
I don?t need to tell you that discarded rubbish on our streets and beaches sadly often ends up the ocean, or that plastic, balloons and other trash pose a serious risk to birds and marine life. We know this, but we don?t always know what we can do or where to start with such a global problem.
The good news is there are plenty of ways to make a difference, without committing a huge amount of time and effort. Acting on a personal or local level is the best way to get started, and little changes really do add up to big things over the course of a week, a month, a year or a lifetime.
Here are just six simple actions you can start doing today to make a positive impact, and help protect the beautiful Northern Sydney Beaches and surrounds:
Skip the Straws
Choose to Refuse disposable straws. Invest in reusable straws if you prefer to keep using them, choosing from bamboo, stainless steel or flexible silicone and don?t forget a straw cleaner.
When ordering a drink, ask for NO STRAW PLEASE. The Northern Beaches and waterways are an absolute magnet for used straws and if you would like to get more involved, check out Operation Straw and take part in a Manly Cove STRAWkling (aka snorkelling for straws).
Get A Reusable Coffee Cup
Australians love their coffee, but we hate to see disposable cups heading to landfill or creating litter. If you don?t have the luxury of sitting down to drink your coffee, get yourself a reusable coffee cup.
Many cafes around the Northern Beaches support BYO cups and even offer a discounted coffee in return. Head to Responsible Cafes to locate one near you, and ask your favourite caf? to join the movement.
Bring Your Own Shopping Bags
Choosing reusable fabric shopping bags is a great move. Always carry one in your handbag and a few in the boot of your car so you?re always prepared when you hit the shops. The plastic bag ban is yet to be put in place across NSW, but that?s no reason not to get onboard with refusing them. You might even want to join the Plastic Free Manly Community or take part in Plastic Free July this year.
Takeaway Less Trash
Plastic takeaway containers are regularly found littering parks, beaches, public spaces and escaping from overflowing bins. One small step in making a difference is to start bringing your own containers.
If you?re concerned about plastics, and what they might be doing to your food and the planet, it really is very easy to start. Small individual actions get important conversations started about trash, and encourages others to give it a go to. Ask at your local takeaway or head to Trashless Takeaway to search the map of local businesses supporting the BYO movement.
Reuse and Recycle
According to the Return and Earn Container Deposit Scheme 160 million drink containers are littering the beaches, parks, waterways and streets in NSW alone. Earning 10 cents for an empty bottle may not be very exciting, however those funds can be donated to charity. Not-for-profits can even set up their own collections, and it?s a great way to raise funds for schools, community groups and sports clubs, while making a dent in the litter problem. And of course, don?t forget to bring your own reusable water bottles instead of purchasing bottled water, to reduce your family?s impact.
Participate in a Beach Clean up
Helping to clean up the beach is a surprisingly fun activity to do with the kids. Not only does it give them an appreciation for their local beach, but helps foster a lifelong interest in the community and environment. Take3 For The Sea is a fantastic initiative that promotes picking up just 3 items of rubbish – and it doesn?t have to be from the beach. This initiative began in NSW and is now getting noticed around the world, with their hashtag #Take3forthesea. It is so simple to do, another fabulous way to make a positive impact when you only have a minute or two to spare. If you want to get more involved, check out the Northern Beaches Cleanup Crew who organise regular events in the area.
Amy writes about?simple, practical ways to reduce waste andlive a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle. You can find out more at?The Good Life with Amy French www.thegoodlifewithamyfrench.com