Reducing our impact on the world

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to think about us and our impact on the planet. As a kid, there was nothing better than waking up and seeing a massive pile of presents under the Christmas tree, all wrapped up in wrapping paper in a different pattern for each of the four of us. Now, at almost 24, Christmas has taken a turn – I love picking out presents for my loved ones, and less is really more. 

New Zealand's Bay of Islands, beautiful, but impacted by plastic pollution

We’re at a point now, where we only have 25 years to save the planet. And that’s terrifying. Within my life time, within our lifetimes, we would see the damage that years of carelessness have damaged the planet and the irreversible climate change. Over the last few years, thankfully, we’ve all become more aware of our impact and started to make changes, but some of that may have come too late.

Over the last 40 years, the world has lost 60% of its animal’s population. Thanks to our need for land for cultivation and keeping animals, only a quarter of the worlds land is human free. And when you think places like Antartica, Greenland and the Arctic Circle is included in that – that’s terrifying.

Cape Reinga, the most northern point of New Zealand

Some easy ways to reduce your impact….

There’s no way to hide from or ignore the impact of plastic.  The ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ is growing daily and it’s currently three times the size of France. There are also floating plastic islands in four different areas of the worlds ocean. And you can’t avoid it in your own country – go for a walk along the beach or through a park, and you can pick up at least five different pieces of litter.

  • Coffee Cups – Worldwide, we use 256 million takeaway coffee cups, and for the most part, they’re not compostable or recyclable. You can buy a reusable coffee cup from as little as NZ$2 (Kmart) or choose a mostly glass option like a KeepCup (around NZ$30).
  • Plastic bags – The most talked about plastic issue – and the one people tend to be aware of. But we’re just scratching the surface with the plastic bag issue. You can grab some reusable produce bags online – like these – a three pack for just NZ$11. When you grab your reusable shopping bags, why not grab some Tupperware and use them with the bulk bins or deli counter.
  • Straws – We’ve all wished we’d not seen the video of the tortoise with the straw stuck up its nose – but that’s reality. Metal straws are super cheap and affordable and fit easily into a bag for you to take with daily to use.
  • Plastic wrap – every little bit of plastic can be replaced – you can use Beeswax wrap instead of plastic wrap or bags! You can get beeswax wrap made from organic cotton, which helps with decreasing your environmental impact.
  • Buying glass containers rather then plastic – Tupperware and Sistema containers are traditionally glass, but for a few extra dollars, you can invest in glass containers! There’s talk that there are chemicals that leach from plastic containers into your food due to microwaving, and glass containers eliminate the risk.
  • Reusable drink bottle – one of the easiest changes to make. Unless you’re travelling in certain countries, tap water is drinkable. There’s no need to go out and constantly repurchasing plastic bottles when you can buy one drink bottle and use it for months to years before it needs to be replaced.
  • Reusable cutlery – This may sound silly but if you go anywhere and buy take out, it’s likely that you’ll be given some plastic cutlery. Online, you can find sets of either metal or bamboo cutlery in their own carry case all for less than $NZ10. 

This list may seem daunting, but if you make the changes slowly, it’s an easy transition to make. Set aside $10 a week and you can switch everything in the space of a few months!

Cape Reinga and its sacred lighthouse

Photos from Paihia and Cape Reinga, in the North of New Zealand