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Happily, we can beat ‘environmental melancholia’

There are myriad other ways we can all come to the planetary party, as well as saving ourselves money and most likely making a few new friends along the way.

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Food waste is a large contributor to carbon emissions, so start by sharing a composting unit – one on a spare patch of lawn or a more compact, modern unit if you’re in an apartment building. Some driven groups have even found the means to install a commercial grade composting machine in their local area, lining up businesses to be part of the closed loop system and planning to expand to all interested parties eventually – turning food waste into compost, hopefully at a profit.

Bulk buy goods with neighbours and friends to share both the products and the postage – start with cleaning products and go from there, many planet-friendly brands are out there and offer upwards of 5kg containers.

Grow local and then spread the produce around – when tomato and zucchini season hit you end up drowning under the bounty (my family wail when they are served up zucchini for the eighth time in a week). There will always be places other than neighbours willing to take your garden goodies –local cafes, schools, retirement homes. Plant out your front garden or verges with herbs to share.

Terracycle is another company that is allowing driven groups to take it upon themselves to introduce recycling initiatives for things you look at and wonder how,  such as toothpaste tubes and pens. Many of these are free to sign up for, it just takes a group of committed people to start it off. One company is even turning plastic lids into prosthetic limbs for children with their “lids for kids” program which has many groups starting up collections.

Social researcher Hugh Mackay in his book Australia Reimagined talks about our loss of community and the impact this has on humans, who are herd animals at heart. We have become too isolated and insular and this has led us to where we are today. However, with initiatives such as the “DIY garbologist” or the wonderful repair cafes that abound, the tide is hopefully turning back towards a sense of communality.

Nicola Philp is a freelance writer based in Apollo Bay.

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