Why is it so important to us,
and what can one person do?
Copyright Aroma Queen 2019
At Aroma Queen we love the outdoors - we're so lucky to be located on the stunning NSW mid-North coast and surrounded by constant reminders with native animals on our doorstep, bushwalks in our local national park, or swimming at our beautiful, pristine beaches or the Bellinger River. Back at the office, we're loving essential oils distilled from a vast range of plants, or incense created from pure resins and botanicals. Chances are if you're reading this, you've found our website because you feel the same. Perhaps you're interested in natural therapies, or just like the idea of using natural scents around your house or family. In Australia we're pretty spoilt - our climate suits spending time outdoors, and our country covers pretty much everything, from mountains to beaches, rainforests to deserts. But the more time we spend outdoors, the more we begin to notice changes - not always for the better.
With the amount of single-use plastics, wastage and unsustainability continuing to clog up the environment, we try to do our bit at AQ by using methods that are as environmentally sound as possible, and we're working hard on introducing even more ways for us to make less impact on the planet. This includes moving to biodegradable paper packaging wherever possible, and making arrangements with other local businesses for us to recycle their packaging materials which would otherwise be thrown out - which is why you'll often receive recycled cardboard boxes or clean used packing beans when you order from us; the bubble wrap we use to wrap your products is now a BIODEGRADABLE version that we've managed to source.
We've also introduced plenty of bulk sized options which will enable you to buy a bigger pack or bottle of many of our products, to decant into a smaller re-usable container for daily use and save wastage on smaller packaging items and bags (if there's any AQ product that you'd like a larger size than what is listed, please just get in touch). And we aim to source environmentally friendly products whenever we can, actively looking for more sustainable options to offer the Friends of the Queen.
For more info on WHY it's important to us to address sustainability, read on.
THE PERILS OF PLASTIC
Nobody can deny that plastic is convenient and handy - like the takeaway cutlery and straw that comes with your lunch, or the plastic-lined insulated disposable coffee cup that keeps your brew hot on the way to work. We've all used them, thousands of times. But what we often try not to think about is that plastic is forever. It's been estimated that only 5% of all of the plastic items and packaging that we use actually ends up being recycled, which is a staggering figure when you consider how much is being used throughout the world every day. So the other 95% of unrecycled plastic has to go somewhere: typically it ends up buried in landfill where it may not degrade even after hundreds of years, or in waterways or seas where it may end up undigested in the stomachs of birds and aquatic life, often contributing to their death.
Here's some food for thought: according to the CSIRO, in 1960 plastic was found in the stomachs of less than 5% of seabirds; by 2010 this had risen to a staggering 80%. By 2050 it is predicted that 99% of the world’s seabird species will be regularly consuming plastic. We've all heard the stats in the news, and you may have seen photos of dead seabird's stomach contents: and they're horrific. The amount of accumulating non-biodegradable waste from 'convenient' everyday items such as disposable plastic straws, coffee lids, cutlery, plastic bags and packaging is simply not sustainable - there could be more plastic in the oceans than fish by the year 2050.
"Seabirds are excellent indicators of ecosystem health. The high estimates of plastic in seabirds we found were not so surprising, considering that members of our research team have previously found nearly 200 pieces of plastic in a single seabird. These items include a wide range of things most of us would recognise: bags, bottle caps, bits of balloons, cigarette lighters, even toothbrushes and plastic toys."
- CSIRO 2016
Take a look at THIS ABC Science Article (2017) for some additional reading - there is plenty more information readily available online from reputable sources if you want to read further on the topic.
Of course plastic is just one aspect of damage being done to the environment - deforestation for palm oil production, GMO and pesticide issues, extensive logging and many other situations cause their share of damage. But plastic consumption is a choice that you and I make several times every day, which is why it's one of our main focuses: at AQ we can begin to contribute to using less plastic, as can you at home or at work.
With the products we use every day, ultimately it comes down to this: plastic is designed to be sturdy, so why do we continue to produce and discard single-use plastic items? Most of us recognise that it's no longer good enough to continue to do so: it's time to start making a difference.
SO WHAT CAN ONE PERSON DO?
If you ask, most people are incredibly supportive of the idea of being environmentally friendly - nobody 'wants' to trash the planet. But often we don't think any more about it than simply agreeing with the idea if it comes up: it's so easy to forget in our busy day to day lives that perhaps we're also contributing to the problem. It can also feel like one person may not be able to make much of a difference: so what's the point in you suffering to change your lifestyle when the whole world is contributing?
But have a quick think about these two points:
1) THE SNOWBALL EFFECT: You may be just one person, but if everyone around you who also felt the same began to make a change in their own small way, then suddenly it's no longer 'one person'. With more people making just a little effort - and who are SEEN to be making their small difference - then that tiny snowball would begin to roll, increasing in size until suddenly everyone was on board, and it had become 'the norm' to think a little greener instead of just going with what's easy or 'habit'.
2) IT'S NOT THAT HARD: You don't have to change your life - making a change for the better can be much easier than you think! It doesn't need to be expensive, life changing or difficult to make greener choices. There are simple ways to make a difference day to day, just by rethinking some of your options - like taking your own re-usable cutlery or coffee cup, and refusing a straw when it's offered; by using tried and true natural cleaning methods and buying the ingredients in bulk, instead of buying over-packaged commercial throw-away items. On our part, we've replaced many plastic packaging items with recycled, sustainable or biodegradable alternatives; we avoid dealing with suppliers who use too much plastic etc and focus on ethical suppliers and natural products, even if they cost a little more.
By making subtle 'Eco-Friendly' changes to your life, you'll also start to rub off and make a positive impact on those around you, who will be able to see that making greener choices isn't necessarily hard at all. While some people devote their entire lives to being environmentally friendly, you don't need to be a 'Greenie' or someone who chains themselves to logs to start making a difference.
Here are a few other ideas to start getting you thinking about ways you can replace single-use items with more long lasting products:
* Silicone Menstrual Cups to replace plastic-packaged tampons and pads
* Reusable netting produce bags, to replace throw away plastic veg bags
* Choose long lasting Silicone instead of throw away plastic
* Travel Cups (or just an old mug!) to replace disposable versions, and a cutlery kit that you take with you when out and about, instead of grabbing the plastic fork
More and more affordable 'green' options are becoming available, giving you new choices to allow you to make a difference.
RECYCLE AND RE-USE
So many commercial products are designed for 'convenience' rather than sustainability. Many are packaged with excessive plastic packaging; others are made from throw-away plastic, intended be only used once, or be thrown away after a short life. Many eco-friendly alternatives are now available made from long-lasting silicone, or new plastic-like materials made from wheatstraw or bamboo fibre, or items likeplastic toothbrushes being replaced by sustainable bamboo handled options - as you can re-use these items over and over, or compost after use, you'll save on the amount of plastic and wastage your household contributes back to the earth.
Other products are available which are made from recycled materials, which is always worth supporting - giving something a second life rather than sending it to landfill can also help make a difference.
Whether you're looking at products made from recycled materials, or at creating a long-term plan for re-using an item over and over instead of throwing it away after a single use, there are plenty of ways we can make a change for the better.
Graphic courtesy www.learningfundamentals.com.au.
Living sustainably is now a mainstream concept rather than a fringe 'hippie' idea, and it doesn't mean changing your lifestyle completely. Sometimes it's just a matter of looking around you and noticing the items you purchase, and throw away.
* Maybe you could find a longer-lasting alternative instead of disposing of something every time you use it.
* Is it individually packaged into small portions, with a lot of wastage? Perhaps you could buy in bulk, and decant into smaller re-usable bottles or packages for day to day use.
* Is it made from plastic which isn't degradable? There might be an eco version available, which will eventually degrade after you've finished with it.
It's amazing how simple little changes can begin to make a huge difference in the impact we each make on the planet - and they don't have to be complicated, expensive or difficult to live with. Often they can even help save money as by purchasing re-usable products that last longer, you're actually buying less often.
By RE-THINKING, and moving away from single-use and towards items that are used over and over you can easily avoid surrounding yourself with disposable items. Try keeping a 'take-away kit' handy, with your own set of cutlery and straw, or a re-useable cup for your favourite barista-made coffee; or a 'shopping set' of reusable produce bags to save you grabbing a strip of throw away plastic bags in the veg section.
As soon as you start re-thinking how you approach plastics and other throw-away items, you'll be amazed at how easy it is to make a difference. And if everybody started re-thinking, our world could be a very different place, for the future.