Guest blogger Liv Gluchowska is an elite athlete, dual world champion in Brazilian jiujitsu + physiotherapist. We've offered her a new challenge: recycling (correctly). Here's what she came up with.
By Liv Gluchowska
Melbourne is undoubtedly one of the best cities in the world - and if you have ever visited then you will know just how much we love our coffee. There seems to be a new trendy, hipster cafe popping up every week, each better than the last. I have my personal favourites but also go on hunts to try new places and indulge in my coffee snobbery. Most often, I will judge the entire cafe based on the first cup of the delicious dark liquid, and no doubt I’ve been thinking about it as soon as I wake up. Yes, I am a coffee addict in every possible way.
When I sat down to do my budget a year ago, I realized I spend close to $2,500 on take- away coffees a year. That's almost 2 cups per day. Horrified at how much money I gulp down each day, I decided to invest in a coffee machine in an effort to save some money.
I am time-poor, so I settled for a coffee pod type as it’s easy, convenient and quick. However, the seemingly easy solution to my problem actually became more of a problem. I am not having less take away coffee, but instead I am just having much more coffee. I still buy a take away cuppa each day as I head to work, and another one during lunch-time. And on top of that I am having my usual 1 or 2 at home...
A week after my purchase, I emptied the rocket-fuel maker of its pods. It’s not an exaggeration to say I was shocked at the amount of plastic I was about to bin. I wasn’t sure if the pods were recyclable, so I consulted the Sustain Me app on my phone. To my disappointment, I learnt that in fact I am just contributing to landfill.
I had no idea how rare landfills are in Australia and that we only have secured space for the next 15 years. And that some garbage trucks have to drive hundreds of kilometers outside big cities to reach those landfills. And that by buying coffee pods, as well as take away coffee cups, I am single-handedly contributing to the high demand of materials, which in turn causes high carbon emissions caused by mining, transport, processing and packaging.
My thought was that if I minimize my coffee machine use to one per day, I can at least recycle my take away coffee cups and limit my contribution to polluting the Earth. Alas, to my horror, as many as 49% of all recyclables in Australia go to landfill each year. So it’s not only my coffee pods and the plastic and card board boxes they come packaged in, but also my many disposable coffee cups I go through per week. I decided I needed to change to be a better human being immediately.
Upon reflection, I was shocked reading about how I am single-handedly contributing to pollution in so many ways.
Had I bothered to make myself more educated about the issue, I would have done more research before buying an expensive coffee pod machine. At this stage only Nescafe offers a recycling service - but you still have to go to recycle in-store (which is inconvenient and time consuming for most people).
Overall awareness about the problems we face with recycling in our community is poor. Until Sustain Me app was released in 2015, I found it confusing and hard to find the right information quickly on the internet. I hate to admit that if I wasn’t sure about what to recycle, I would put it in the garbage bin, often wrongly so. Sustain Me app now does the thinking for me and I can be certain I’m doing my bit to help the environment.
My Recycling Plan:
I have committed to making a change in just a few simple steps:
Limit coffee pod coffee to 1 per day. If desperate for caffeine, I will have a tea.
Take a re-usable coffee cup to work
When time allows, sit down at a cafe for a coffee rather than getting take-away
Re-use coffee trays when buying coffee for my colleagues
Spread awareness about recycling at work by recommending Sustain Me app
Always do research first when buying new appliances
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