Since moving to Australia six years ago, Dana Lopez has been surfing, free diving and scuba diving any chance she could get. The ocean is her happy place. That is until she started noticing rubbish floating around her in the water and at the beach. Though she always picked it up, she kept finding there was always more.
It was then that she started looking for organisations that worked to keep oceans clean, started volunteering at one — Take 3 for the Sea.
“We did a beach clean-up in Bondi, and I was so shocked with the amount of plastic we picked up — it was awful,” says Lopez, now an ambassador for Take 3 for the Sea. “After that, I decided I had to use my voice to help awareness and get people to rethink their relationship with plastic waste.”
“That was the start of my sustainability journey. It can be hard and overwhelming once you start, so it’s key to start small. I picked one room at home and decided to start changing what I was purchasing for that room. The hardest was the bathroom.”
Lopez says the fact about waste that shocked her the most is that only 12% of all the plastic ever made has been recycled. Which makes you wonder where the rest of it goes.
“It’s still sitting landfill or in a river or ocean,” Lopez says. “I still can’t get my head around this one!”
So, what can we do about it? If you haven’t already, how can you, like Lopez, start your sustainability journey?
The first thing to know is that being 100% sustainable is hard and can be daunting. Instead, it’s about starting small and building up, and focusing on the small changes and actions you can do because those are what you should be trying to right, says Lopez, adding that the biggest mistake you can make is trying to go all the way in one go.
Once you have that in mind, Lopez shares a few other ways you can start living more sustainably:
“First thing is super simple: Take your reusable water bottle, coffee cup, cutlery, shopping bag with you. All of those things are single-use plastics. And if you forget your keep up, go topless on your coffee.”
Understand Your Waste Habits
“If you really want a stark reminder of how much waste you’re consuming, don’t take out your rubbish for a week and by the end of it, have a look and identify what can you change. What are you consuming the most that comes in plastic? Challenge yourself to buy something different next week.”
Buy From Sustainable Brands
“Support businesses that are making a difference and using 100% recycled plastic in packaging. For example, the brand Praise. All their mayo and aioli bottles and jars are now made from 100% Australian recycled plastic, so by purchasing brands like Praise, you’re helping reduce the amount of plastic sent to landfill and stopping virgin plastic going into circulation.”
Shop in Bulk
“Buy big and in bulk, rather than little and often.”
Take 3 for the Sea
“Our message is simple, take 3 pieces of rubbish with you and you have made a difference.”