By Tiana Jones
Being in high school doesn’t mean you get to block out the environmental problems around you, in fact getting into environmentally conscious habits when you’re young can make it easier to keep up the behaviour as you get older because it becomes ingrained. Sometimes people have a mentality of, ‘One person won’t make a difference. Why should I change my behaviour if no one else will?’ But if everyone thinks like that, there will be no one around to take the first step. If everyone thought they could change the world, maybe together they would be able to. Changing your behaviour does make a difference and has a positive impact on the people around you by encouraging them to think about how their actions may be adding to the problem as well.
Here are nine ways you can change your behaviour to be more environmentally focused. If you ingrain these habits into your routine early enough they will stick.
Carry around your own water bottle.
Image via Pinterest
Instead of buying drinks whenever you go out, buy a good quality water bottle and stick with it. The plastic water bottles and soft drink cans that dominate supermarkets and cafes add so much pressure to our landfills. The plastic you use for ten minutes will stay in the environment long after we leave, taking up space, finding its way into our water supply and getting digested by vulnerable animals. The average plastic bottle takes four hundred and fifty years to decompose, with some taking as long as a thousand years. Some types of plastic bottles, like those made of Polyethylene Terephthalate, will be sticking around forever.
The permanent water bottles you can buy usually range from ten to fifty dollars, and one can last you for years. They come in different colours, shapes and styles. You can turn a hip looking bottle into a fashion accessory. They can also save you money in the long run. Spend five dollars on a drink whenever you go out? That money adds up. Save it and carry a water bottle instead. If people stopped buying plastic bottles, the demand for them would decrease, and companies would be forced to stop producing as many. Be the first one in your group to take up this habit, and you might end up starting a trend among your friends.
Get into the habit of cycling or taking public transport.
Too young to get your licence, so a bike, public transport, or getting a lift from your parents are your only options? Bypass the parents and get into good cycling or public transport habits! Getting to know how the trains and buses operate around the city while you are still in your teens won’t make public transport seem as daunting when it becomes your best option for getting into the city for work or university once you leave school. Cycling is a great and efficient way to get around and is a brilliant way to boost your amount of daily exercise as well. Getting into good habits by walking, cycling and catching the train now can help stop you from getting too reliant on cars when you’re finally old enough to drive.
Know what you can and cannot recycle.
Most neighbourhoods in Perth have at least two bins, the most common being a green lidded bin and a yellow lidded bin. The green bin is generally for waste and the yellow one is for recycling; unless you live in an area like Cockburn which has introduced a three-bin system- with a lime green lid for compost and garden waste, a red lid for general waste, and a yellow lid for recycling.
The yellow bin can take newspapers, magazines, cardboard, plastic bottles, plastic containers, glass jars, glass bottles, and aluminium cans. Remember to rinse out your containers as these items are sorted by hand. Because recycling is sorted by hand, small individual objects are tricky to file. If you want to recycle bottle tops, try collecting them in an old container you were planning to recycle anyway and then once the container is full, throw the whole container into the yellow bin.
Items like plastic bags, plastic wrap, clothes, furniture and old toys don’t belong in the recycling bin. Put your rubbish in your general waste bin and try other methods to recycle old toys, clothes and furniture like having a garage sale, selling them online, or taking them to your local charity shop.
Try to avoid using plastic bags.
Going to the shops? Roll up a couple of green bags and stuff them into your handbag, backpack, pocket or even under your armpit. If you do end up with a plastic bag try to find a way to use it more than once. Either by using it around the house or by taking it with you next time you go out.
Buy rechargeable batteries.
Batteries are full of toxic material that is harmful to us and the environment. Try to reduce the amount you go through by grabbing the rechargeable ones. Also, be mindful of the many wasted batteries updating your phone frequently generates. Getting a new phone every year to keep up with the new technology may seem great but is multiplying the number of batteries being disposed of at a rapid rate. In 2018, even a phone that is a couple of years old is pretty spectacular in terms of its technology. Try and hold onto your laptop and phone until it becomes absolutely necessary to upgrade.
Take shorter showers.
Western Australia has a limited water supply, so try to keep your showers between the two to five minute range. The Water Corp recently ran a campaign urging people to keep their showers to the time of a three-minute song. So grab your Bluetooth speaker (keeping it at a very safe distance from water if plugging it in, or try a cordless waterproof one instead) and pump out your favourite song and see if you can time your shower to end as the last cords of the song drift out.
Modernise your note-taking style.
Have your teachers or parents gotten you into the habit of writing down shopping lists or taking notes with a pen and paper? When you can, try to write up your notes on your mobile or laptop instead. Digital note-taking saves paper and you are less likely to lose your shopping list this way.
Don’t heat or cool an empty house.
Going out for the day and know no one will be home? Turn off the heater or the air conditioner before you leave. It doesn’t take long for the heating or cooling to work its magic again once you’re home and can lead to massive savings as well.
Bring your own lunch to school.
Pack your own lunch to reduce the amount of wrapping that comes with the food at your school canteen. Also, get rid of the plastic sandwich bags or glad wrap and buy yourself a sandwich container that you can use every single day.
If everyone made an effort to be more environmentally conscious the positive effect it would have on the Earth would be massive, so try to be the leader among your friends and encourage environmentally conscious changes to the way things are done around you. As well as being better for the environment, you will find these tips will often save you both time and money.