Reducing dependence on plastic packaging and minimising waste starts with knowing the effects litter has on the local environment.
For more than three years, the Howard family of Port Noarlunga South, including Dave and Amber and their children Eris, Noah and Charlee, have been making changes to their lifestyle to reduce their dependence on plastic packaging. Now, Dave says, the family is working toward increasing their food security with homegrown goodness.
What inspired you to think about reducing your household’s waste?
We were seeing lots of fast-food wrappers, cigarette butts, plastic packaging, straws, cans, bottles, chewing gum and other litter in the area around our home near the mouth of the Onkaparinga River and in the broader region.
Amber and I have always been keen recyclers, willing to do our bit to minimise our family’s footprint on this planet, so taking bigger steps to minimise our waste to landfill became important. We believe this involves raising responsible and caring children who will, hopefully, inspire those around them to also do the right thing.
What were some of the earliest changes your family made to reduce waste?
We made and grew what we could, and we continue to do so. The kids get involved in recycling, including using a separate bin for all our bottles and steel cans. They also help care for animals to help us turn our waste into compost—’garden gold’—using a worm farm and a compost pile.
Where do you do most of your shopping since adopting a low waste lifestyle?
We have always shopped locally, so not much has changed in recent years. We like shopping at Moana Health Food store because it has an awesome range of bulk-buy soaps and shampoos. Suntralis in Lonsdale has a great range of healthy snacks and tasty treats.
Most local stores are doing their bit to offer alternatives to plastic packaging. The biggest change for us has been to remember to take our reusable bags to the shop instead of juggling everything as we leave after refusing to purchase more plastic.
What recycling channels do you use to minimise your waste to landfill?
We try to avoid recycling by not purchasing the packaging in the first place. Otherwise, we reuse the packaging where we can, including paper and cardboard which we place in our compost and worm farms.
What are some of your biggest successes to date in reducing waste?
Our family is working together for a common goal to do the right thing. It makes me incredibly proud to see the kids coming back from the beach looking to pick up rubbish. I love hearing about the times they do a clean-up at school with their mates. So, I would say the biggest success has been increasing awareness of the negative impacts of litter.
Do you have any new goals for your household’s waste reduction?
We are looking to go completely off-grid. We need more room to grow additional fruit and vegetables to be totally self-sufficient as far as food is concerned. Our 800m2 block already has 23 fruit trees, loads of veggie beds, chickens and bees, and an aquaponics set-up where we are growing our own rainbow trout. The beauty of this is that all our waste is compostable.
What changes have you made that, upon reflection, could have been done more effectively?
I wish I had started gardening earlier and perhaps made a bigger compost area.
Have you had to make any necessary changes to your buying behaviour as you navigate the COVID pandemic?
Thankfully, nothing much has changed for us other than looking to increase our personal food security.
Any words of advice for people wanting to reduce their household waste?
Ask yourself if you need what you are about to buy. Look for alternative products and packaging. If the product is something you buy often, see if you can buy it in bulk to reduce individual packaging. Better yet, try getting hands-on and grow or make what you need. It’s incredibly rewarding.