We Asked 20 People What Simple Change They Made to Be More Eco-Friendly

For me, it all started with a cup. I start every morning with a large flat white, and I’d always get it in a takeaway cup. My deskmate at the time wasn’t impressed. She asked why I wasn’t using a reusable cup. I listed off the reasons: I didn’t want to have to carry it around all day, I didn’t want to clean it, and I wanted the option for having an extra-large coffee.

Then, one morning, I found an extra-large, collapsible reusable coffee cup on my desk. When scrunched up, it fit into the palm of my hand. My deskmate had bought it for me.

That was a few years ago, and I still use that same cup to this day. I saw how one simple change was now saving hundreds of takeaway coffee cups I would normally use each year, most of which can’t be recycled. I have this cup from Stojo, by the way:

‘Imagine if 10 people started using a reusable coffee cup,’ I thought. ‘Then we’d be saving thousands from landfill. What other small shifts could I make and encourage others to make that would help to save the planet?’

That line of thinking started me on my sustainability journey.

I decided to ask my colleagues and wider network what small change prompted their own sustainability journeys. Ahead, they share theirs.

“I am a huge recycler/upcycler! If everyone did this correctly, we should all have very little waste going into ‘landfill’. Food scraps into the green bin, washed out and cleaned hard plastics either reused or straight into the yellow bin, and soft plastics dropped off at your local Woolworths and Coles RedCycle bin.” — Ebanny Dwyer, Senior Communications Manager at NAC Media Group

“To make an impact I personally use the only carbon-neutral energy supplier in Australia while also using my heating and AC as little as possible. On an everyday basis, I use reusable shopping bags when I go shopping, too.” — Rachael Wilde, Founder of tbh Skincare

Image: Getty Images

“I’ve always loved vintage shopping and the thrill of finding a great piece — but this year I’ve committed to shopping 99% of my wardrobe second hand. What this means is thinking about my basics — if I need a black turtleneck, instead of ducking straight out to Zara, I ask myself: can I thrift it? This slowed-down approach to shopping has helped me to really consider what I need verse what I want (and funnily enough, I found a black Zara turtleneck at Newtown’s Vinnies!).” — Ruby Feneley, Beauty Producer at POPSUGAR Australia

“Since I had my daughter, I have been looking on Facebook Marketplace for second hand toys, brand name baby shoes or clothing even kids’ furniture before I buy new. I have found new unused or near new goods within 5kms of my home. Although I can afford new, I feel better about buying these items because it reduces clothing landfill, helps support parents in my local community and reduces unnecessary packaging purchasing online or new.” — Allie Charles, Senior Account Manager at Val Morgan Digital

“When projects permit it, I try to source products that are made from recyclable materials or from environmentally sustainable suppliers. Designers, as a collective, are trying their best to pursue smarter design and more efficient dwellings where possible.”  — Camilla Ingall, Founder of Unfolded

“Composting — and growing veg!” — Ben Tyers, Managing Editor at Thrillist Australia


I have a passion for finding unique, second-hand furniture and clothing from Facebook Marketplace. Selling my pre-loved items is a great way to give the pieces I no longer need a new home and stop them from ending in landfill.” — Hannah Drury, Founder of Peppermint Grove

My tip is: Embrace your destiny, ignore (some) use-by dates and best-before dates.” — Joel Burrows, Culture Producer at The Latch

“I use a Frank Green Reusable Water Bottle and try to avoid single plastic water bottles. I am also using my recycling bins (at home + work)  and ensuring waste is disbursed correctly. I also leave reusable shopping bags in my car so I don’t need to purchase plastic bags from Woolies or Coles. I’m always consciously learning about more ways I can be more sustainable in my personal life and business to ensure I’m doing my part in helping the planet we call home.” — Priscilla Hajiantoni, Founder of Bangn Body

Frank Green reusable bottle
Image: Frank Green

“Being more eco-friendly has always felt insurmountable to me and the overwhelm, at times, has prevented me from doing as much as I could. Then I decided to go meat-free. It was in 2017, and there were a few things happening in my orbit at the time. Leonardo DiCaprio released the harrowing climate documentary Before the Flood and YouTuber twin brothers Finn and Jack Harries (who have since been extremely active in the Extinction Rebellion movement) announced they were going vegan for the planet. That all feels like a retro throwback now, but realising that one thing I could control — eating meat — would make a tangible difference to soil quality, water usage, and methane emissions felt empowering, and right for me.” — Angela Law, Commercial and Shopping Editor at Val Morgan Digital

“I shop local and purchase Australian-made products whenever possible.  Not only does this help support our local economy (and small business owners like myself), it helps minimise the energy emissions associated with transporting goods.” — Lisa Raciti, Founder of Kind-ly

“We’ve recently discovered the Big W toy recycling bins. We’ve been doing a big toy drive amongst a bunch of friends.” — Brian Florido, Managing Director at Val Morgan Digital

Image: Getty Images

“Personally, I never use or purchase single-use plastic bottles anymore. From food and beverages, to home products, to skincare. Professionally, I am committed to using all recyclable packaging for Prene from start to finish this year.” — Tammy Green, Founder of Prene

“I try to shop vintage where I can, and I avoid fast fashion!” — Georgia Geminder Founder of GEM Oral Care

“I try to shop more mindfully at local brands and designers, and invest in wardrobe staples that will last me through the years rather than trendy pieces.” — Madison Stefanis, Founder of 35mm

“I make a conscious effort to buy more high-quality, long-lasting pieces of clothing rather than fast fashion, which encourages me to buy less. I also utilise glass bottles to minimise my use of single-use plastic.” — Simona Valev, Co-Founder of Rawkanvas

“Mine would be bringing my thermal water bottle everywhere with me — for refills, at restaurants, for takeaway coffees, or smoothies. Saved me from wasting plastic and made me drink more water.” — Taahira Ayoob, Sustainability Producer at The Latch

Image: SoL

“I now recycle all my soft plastics and take my food scraps to a community garden/compost once a week. I think next step for me will be paying each year to offset my carbon footprint.” — Nicola Laing, Strategy and Content Manager at Val Morgan Digital

“I am in the process of swapping my beauty products to all refillable. I’ve had success with my skincare and am slowly working through my makeup collection.” — Hannah O’Loughlin, Senior Account Director at Kate & Co.

“We have made the conscious choice to upcycle fabrics like old clothes, towels and lines, and reuse containers instead of just recycling them.” — Tilly and Daisy Johnson, Founders of One Summer Skincare

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