Author: Kaylah Borham
I used to be one of those people who would just mindlessly think about trash and seldom thought about where it actually went, I put the bin on the street for council pick up.
I knew rubbish tips existed and I knew that recycling existed. But from my experience in working at a large junk food corporation as a teenager that this didn’t necessarily matter because the recycling and rubbish skip bins were picked up at the same time and tipped into the same truck. So it’s not like it really mattered whether we separated it or not. It wasn’t going anywhere different.
Photo Credit: CC0 Creative Commons on Pixabay
I always threw away magazines, toilet rolls, old shampoo bottles; anything I didn’t need any more was trash, not recycling. I had seen (prior to my leaving Australia) that my friends and social media were trying to use less. I knew an old friend from school was studying marine biology and she had posted a few things, but I never really took notice and thought it was something I could do.
It was in San Francisco last year (November 2017) that I really started thinking about it, because they had a massive focus on it there. Almost everywhere we went, but most evidently was in our hostel, The Green Tortoise. (Secret recommendation if you need anywhere to stay!! And near some great local book stores) I digress. They were so big on doing things the right way and making sure everyone knew it as well. From everyone helping out at dinner, to where you throw your scraps afterwards. They had separated the bins so that one was recycling, one rubbish and one food waste/compost.
It really got me thinking.
By the time we had made it to Los Angeles, I had started writing a list in my journal of what things at home I could do to make a difference and not “reverse” what I had done, but try and make a dent in it. I mean I was 24 and it would be very hard to backtrack 24 years of my life’s rubbish.
I started thinking about what items I could recycle and what items I might be able to buy that would eliminate single use plastics – Hello Lush!! My saviour in helping find delicious products that had no waste. (Although my dad has thrown some of my stuff out because the ingredients made it look mouldy, I had to assure him this was actually how it was meant to be – for example, their shampoo bar.)
Photo credit: Vinsky2002 on Pixabay
I wanted to think of the little items we take for granted; toothbrushes (often used 2-3months max and thrown away) and razors. But the worst one I could think of for a single use and rubbish was plastic water bottles; used once for a product sold at 2000% mark-up of the cost of the original product. You can literally get water for free from the tap and in some places people charge up to $6 for a 600ml bottle of water like its limited resource (bottled water is not a limited resource and it should be.) Los Angeles was our last stop after a month in America, so from there I knew I was going to come home and try and make a change. I didn’t know how but I knew it had to start with me.
Coincidently on the flight home I started binge watching all of season 7 of GOT because I couldn’t stream it when I was at home, but to break it up I watched this one particular documentary called “Blue the film”. This really sparked that inner need to do something. This is not just a problem affecting me and the small environment around me, this is affecting humans, animals and the entire ecosystems in which we all live – on the land and under the sea. I’d like to say I never knew, but that’s wrong, I was ignorant and naïve. I never took note that the rubbish we use today ends up in piles in some remote area, but a large amount of trash and plastic actually still ends up in the oceans.
When I came home I got a recycling bin in my room not just downstairs. I started taking note of all the products I use that are recyclable and actually recycling them rather than putting them in the rubbish bin. I took note of my consumption of single use plastics and bought myself a Keepcup and a reusable stainless steel straw and other items with low or no waste or at least recyclable or compostable components. I started volunteering with a local clean up group at my local beach where once a month we go clean up and then go to dinner/drinks and have a good social time and talk all things life and diving usually (I don’t dive but the majority of others do, and that is what has made the majority of them think about the trash wasteful nature of humans.) I have tried to educate people and use social media platforms to do this by sharing the good content with facts and moving images. I try and follow others that are making a change to keep inspiring myself and so that hopefully I can inspire others in turn
So I really don’t know what the light switch was, being that I knew it was an issue, I knew rubbish and recycling was a thing, I knew that we should be more mindful but I really feel like that trip to America sparked this change in me and it hasn’t left. The spark has grown into a fire and I am ready to jump into the flames because this fight is not over. We are all in this fight whether people acknowledge it or not, but we are fighting ourselves to be able to ensure that this environment we have been so lucky to thrive in does not crash around us.
Let’s let this fire burn and let’s ignite the fury in every single one of us to make a change.
Start with a bamboo toothbrush and a reusable water bottle, one small step at a time will make a huge, huge difference.