Month of May Sustainability Office Challenge: Plastic Free!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Join our office in our first monthly sustainability challenge! The team at SCA are going plastic free for the month of May.  

 
Plastic pollution is an epidemic plaguing our lands and oceans. Dependency on plastic has become a fundamental aspect of our lives. Our daily interactions with plastic are endless. Rarely we question where this plastic ends up once we throw it in the bin. While some is shipped overseas to countries like China to be recycled, most ends up in landfill or the ocean. Plastic pollution is severely impacting the environment, its wildlife and our health.
 

Quick facts

  • Australians are the second highest producers of waste, per person, in the world. Each of us send over 690 kilograms of waste to landfill each year.
  • It is estimated world wide that 1 trillion plastic bags are used and discarded every year. Australians use an estimated 5 billion plastic bags a year. 
  • Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
  • 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
  • More than half the world's turtles and two-thirds of some bird species along Australia's east coast have ingested plastics as the toll from plastic pollution mounts.
  • Once plastic is in the ocean, marine animals either become tangled up or eat it, leading to suffocation and starvation.
  • Around 8-9 million metric tonnes of plastic go into the oceans each year.


 

10 simple tips to go plastic free

  1. Make a list of your most purchased plastic products – pick a few that are easy to replace with plastic-free alternatives i.e. liquid soap to bar soap.
  2. Bring your own cloth bags when shopping, this includes small bags for fruit and veg.
  3. Be a conscious grocery shopper – stick to the periphery of the generic grocery stores (i.e. meats, fresh produce) to avoid plastic wrapped foods. If you don’t have non-plastic bags at hand use empty boxes at the shops and paper mushroom bags to hold your food.
  4. Shop at a bulk food stores, markets and local bakeries to reduce your plastic waste and support local businesses.
  5. Don’t leave the house without a reusable water bottle and coffee cup! Carry reusable utensils and a jar with you if you plan to eat out. 
  6. Start buying clothes at Op Shops to eliminate unseen plastic waste and reduce the impacts of fast fashion consumer culture. Enjoy guilt free shopping!
  7. Just Say No! Say no to plastic straws, utensils and bags (try to do this when ordering to avoid unwanted plastics).
  8. Use reusable glass jars to store food at home instead of plastic containers or bags.
  9. Make your own products – this can include toothpaste, moisturiser, deodorant and cleaning products. Most of these products use the same ingredients, cutting costs and eliminating plastic.
  10. Make your meals at home.
 
Going plastic free over night can be difficult. However slowly eliminating plastic and reducing even half of your plastic waste can make a huge difference. Use this month to help you eliminate or drastically reduce plastic from your life. While it may seem impossible to escape routine of use and disposal of plastic in our everyday life, non-plastic alternatives are readily available and small behavioural changes can turn the tide on plastic pollution.
 
So join the SCA team for the month of May and be part of the solution to plastic pollution! 

 

Resources

Campaigns

Boomerang Alliance

Australian Marine Conservation Society

Plastic Pollution Solution 

Plastic Free Stores:

The Clean Collective

Biome

The Source Bulk Foods

Naked Foods Bulk Store

Going Green Solutions

Great Plastic Free/ Zero Waste Blogs:

Trash is For Tossers

Paris To Go

The Rogue Ginger

Litterless

Plastic Free Alternatives:

Plastic Free July

Plastic Free Guide

Documentaries: 

Climate Lab: Going green shouldn't be this hard

The War on Waste

What really happens to the plastic you throw away



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How Timber and Trees Reduce Stress and Improve Our Wellbeing

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

‘Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life’ - Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte 

 

Trees are often referred to as the ‘Lungs of the earth’, reflecting their intrinsic role for the earth and humans. Trees are more like humans than one would first imagine. Trees, like humans, consist mostly of water, their capillaries transport water and nutrients from their roots to grow and evaporate through their leaves. Our relationship with trees is symbiotic, our breath depends on their precious oxygen and their continued existence depends on our care of use.

 

Trees hold energy. Studies show that an energetic aura with different levels of frequency can be measured from trees. Three decades of extensive research in Damanhur, Italy has revealed that trees can create their own music evidenced by recordings with specialist technology[1]. Author Peter Wohllebe in in his newly released book ‘The hidden Life of Trees’ revealed his discovery that trees communicate with one another and live in social groups.

 

Natural materials generally have a higher energetic ‘vibration’ and we naturally respond to this, evidenced by our instinctive reaction to timber. Timber is a material that we all feel at home with. It warms a space with its colour, texture, smell and feel, grounding us. People are drawn to buildings that have timber in or on the façade. People who work in a building with timber will feel naturally happier, opposed to a more disconnected and isolated feeling in a building with no natural materials.

 

 

The positive psychological and physiological effects of timber were researched by Marjut Wallenius, a Doctor of Psychology at the University of Tampere, Finland. Wallenius stated: Wood has [positive] psychological effects on people – a similar stress-reducing effect as nature”[2]. According to Wallenius this effect is felt is due to the natural origin of wood, which makes it a warm and comforting material in construction. The health effects of wood in a hospital environment have been studied in many countries, including Norway, Austria, Japan, Canada and Denmark. These studies verified that environments with wooden structures elicited a “drop in blood pressure and pulse” and improved the process of recuperation[2].

 

Natural wood has also been shown to keep the humidity of indoor areas optimal from a health perspective, particularly for those suffering from allergies and asthma. The tangible effects of natural wood have also been observed in classrooms. According to Wallenius, the use of wood interiors and furniture in these areas minimise stress, increasing student’s productivity [2]. It is clear that the use of timber in built environments promotes health, recovery and minimises stress, through a connection to nature.

 

Australians typically love the outdoors, and intuitively gravitate to natural materials in their interiors and as part of their homes. The popularity of interiors that feature natural materials such as salvaged and recycled timber has increased in recent years. This has prompted a movement away from minimalistic interiors that feature hard, shiny surfaces and finishes. Timber cladding and finishes create a greater sense of ‘home’ with its warmth and soft tactile, textural finish. Cafes, restaurants and pubs have all embraced this aesthetic knowing patrons will feel more at ease and comfortable surrounded by natural timber.

 


 

Developers, homeowners, specifiers and builders should carefully consider their options when selecting external and internal finishes. Sustainably grown timber with a non-toxic finish is better for both our own heath and the health of the planet. Manmade composites contain materials such as PVC, toxic glues and volatile compounds that may affect our health (by either sensitivities, allergic reaction or damage to our cells). PVC products often contains toxic ingredients and carcinogenic dioxins that migrate into the environment during its production, use and disposal, whilst naturally oiled timber gives back to the earth and ultimately nourishes the soil.

 

Trees and timber are integral to our lives, the natural unique beauty of individual pieces of timber goes beyond aesthetics, it ensures the health of the planet and ourselves is nurtured and supported. Open your mind to the healing power of trees and timber and notice how much happier you feel.



[1] Singing Plants at Damanhur. (2011, October 24). Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZaokNmQ4eY

[2] Timber + Design. (2014, July 7). Wood Psychology. Retrieved from Timber + Design : http://www.timberdesignmag.com/articles/wood-psychology/