Beyond the bin

Sustainable shopping habits can stop waste before it starts.

Almost 80%* of Australians are acting to reduce waste, yet despite our efforts we’re still getting recycling wrong.

Research from environmental organisation Planet Ark revealed more than 28% of packaging is disposed of in the wrong bin or directly sent to landfill.

Sustainable living and reducing waste is a passion for RACQ member Sara Storoy.

“Living sustainably is more than just a concept, it’s a mindset,” Mrs Storoy said.

“Everything we buy has an impact and everything we throw away will end up somewhere on the planet and it is vital that we consider how our actions now will affect the Earth’s natural resources, ecosystems, biodiversity, climate and culture in the years to come.”

Mrs Storoy’s journey to creating less waste led to the creation of Replenish Refill, a zero-waste concept store in Hervey Bay.

“We wanted to provide our community with a place where they could go to refill household products, purchase products that are built to last and learn about sustainable living while minimising their impact on the environment,” she said.

“Most importantly, we talk to people and answer any questions they may have regarding their journey, local facilities and recycling programs available in our area.”

While recycling is a common form of contributing to sustainability, Mrs Storoy said Queenslanders should look beyond the bin to their shopping habits.

“Recycling is a great start, but it will likely end up in landfill eventually,” she said. 

“A lot of plastics, if they can be recycled, can only be recycled a limited number of times so by purchasing package-free you are using what you already have and therefore not producing any additional waste.”

Ms Storoy said simple swaps could make a big difference to the amount of waste a person produced.

“A stainless-steel straw is an inexpensive swap and it is often the first one people make when they start on their journey,” she said. 

“Carrying a reusable shopping bag with you when you’re out, bamboo cotton tips and the humble bamboo toothbrush are easy, inexpensive things to start swapping out.

Being mindful of what we are purchasing allows us time to assess if we really need the item in the first place. 

“Can I borrow it from someone? Can I purchase second-hand? How long will it last?”

Mrs Storoy said there were many resources available for people starting their sustainable living journey.

“To begin with it can be a little daunting, but you will find stores like Replenish Refill have friendly and knowledgeable staff on hand to assist,” she said.

“It’s really important to remember that every change you make, no matter how small, has a positive impact.

“If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start simple, start small. What is most important, is that you start.”

Start shopping sustainably

  • Take your own containers. 
  • Buy local and support small business.
  • Buy package-free products where possible.
  • Repurpose what you already have.
  • Only buy the food you need.

*Planet Ark National Recycling Report 2020