With Australia’s devastating recent bush fires, we’ve witnessed exceptional unity, but unfortunately, we’ve also witnessed division.
On one hand, we’ve seen unity between the victims and the firefighters and organisations that have provided them help, unity between our people and animals, and unity from our allied countries.
But the crisis has also re-sparked the debate and divide over climate change.
Australia’s Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, stresses that rather than debating whether or not climate change is real, we should focus on implementing mitigation and adaptation steps.
“We need to move beyond having a debate about climate change and accept that we need to start making some changes,” says Andrews.
And while she was likely referring to the government making these changes, that’s not to say we shouldn’t set our own example. The reality is that the general public have already proved how much impact we have on this crisis with our overwhelming response to it so far. There are some baby steps that the average person can take to lessen the underlying issues around climate. Our biggest suggestion is to reduce your waste, which is something you can implement in your home and workplace (even better if you’re a business owner as that gives you a substantial amount of power, impact and influence).
But first, let’s understand these issues about the climate and our bush fires (and how waste relates)
Sure, Australia’s always had a bush fire season – but never one this severe. I’m not saying that the take-away coffee you had this morning is the reason fires like this get so bad, but it’s important to acknowledge that there is a connection between waste and the climate.
Although the science and debate around climate change is complex, the general scientific consensus is that the rising levels of CO2 are warming the planet. Australia has been getting hotter over the recent decades. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, 2019 was Australia’s hottest year on record, with temperatures reaching 1.52°C above the long-term average.
It’s the drier climate, extreme weather patterns and higher temperatures that contribute to the fires becoming more frequent and more intense and spreading wider and faster.
According to Professor Glenda Wardle, an ecologist from the University of Sydney, it’s not necessarily that every weather event is the direct result of climate change, but it’s the trends that tell us that there’s an issue.
So, rising CO2 emissions over time has caused problems. And that’s where waste is relevant. Landfill waste produces CO2 (and Australia sends approximately 21 million tonnes of waste to landfill each year).
The connection between waste and the climate.
Since the first step to improving these conditions is to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, one thing we can all achieve is sending less waste to landfill.
This can be achieved in both small and large quantities. For example, as regular everyday Australian, we can use keep cups when we buy a coffee or pack our kid’s lunch in tupperware instead of glad wrap. And as a business owner, you can change your packaging to a recyclable option or partner with a sustainable supplier.
Both reducing and diverting waste has an even greater impact than reducing CO2 emissions from landfill. They also reduce CO2 emissions from energy. This includes the energy to extract virgin resources to make products from scratch. It also includes transport energy – e.g. if your business produces less waste or less streams of waste (diverting to recycling), then it will require less frequent rubbish collections or less trucks to collect the streams.
There are also a number of other ways business owners can tweak their policies to reduce the amount of waste they produce or increase their diversion rates. In times like these, when our weather conditions are so extreme, it’s worthwhile exploring the different ways to act more sustainably, even if it’s just something small.
If you’re a business owner who is interested in learning more about how your business can act sustainably, partner with us at Nationwide Waste Solutions – one of Australia’s leading waste management providers. We provide premium waste management and recycling services, as well as advice on how to reduce your general waste disposal. Call us on 1300 729 922 or contact us here.