Back in the 1980s, the ‘Keep Australia Beautiful’ slogan was a common cry in marketing campaigns. Not only did it appeal to us all to make sure we disposed of our rubbish thoughtfully, but it reminded us that Australia is beautiful and that all we had to do to keep it that way was do the right thing.
Today, being environmentally friendly is about so much more than putting our used coffee cups or plastic water bottles in the bin. We’d like to give you some tips for being environmentally friendly in Australia so that you can enjoy the country’s clean, green reputation as much as we do.
One of the most significant impacts on the environment is the momentous mountains of rubbish that are generated each day. Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of using disposable containers for foods and drinks, reusable containers all but eliminate the problem.
Get used to carrying your own reusable coffee cup and water bottle. Sure, you have to wash them but they’re actually more pleasant to use as well. The same goes for plastic bags. Here in Australia, single-use plastic bags have been demonised and many retailers are no longer allowed to package their goods in them. When you’re here, pick up a couple of reusable shopping bags to take to the markets, supermarket or department store.
It can be tempting to hail a taxi or summon an Uber, but if you are travelling alone, buses, trains and trams are far more environmentally friendly. Most of Australia’s cities have wonderful public transport systems that are economical, easy to use and safe. Download the app of the network in the city you’re staying in and you’ll be getting around like a local in no time.
If the distance you need to travel is not immense, then choosing bus or rail can be an excellent use of your time. Reduce your carbon footprint by around one tonne for a five-hour flight and instead, see the landscape from the window of your bus or train.
Australia is a drought-prone country and we are accustomed here to conserving water wherever possible. When you stay in a hotel, try to use your towels more than once and avoid requesting the bed sheets be changed more than you would at home. Don’t take unnecessarily long showers and turn the tap off while brushing your teeth or shaving.
Leaving the air conditioner on while you go out sightseeing for the day is wasteful. It will only take twenty minutes or so for the room to cool down once you return so be sure to switch it off when you go out. You also don’t need to leave the TV or lights on as this will only waste power.
Ecotourism refers to nature-based activities that introduce visitors to more ecologically sound places and impact minimally on the environment. In Australia, you could go camping in the outback, kayak around exquisite tropical islands or wander through majestic national parks. Check out this guide for inspiration.
Purchasing souvenirs that were made in China or some other faraway place means adding countless miles to the distance they had to travel to be sold in Australia. It’s far better and more meaningful to purchase items that are made locally, perhaps by local craftspeople or artists.
Buy souvenirs that will last a long time because they’re made well, or foods that are made with ingredients found in the area you visited. Chocolates, bush tucker spices, craft spirits, olive oil and infused balsamic vinegars are all great examples.
Walking is not just good for your health, it’s also fun and you see more of the area you’re staying in. You can mix things up a bit and hire a bicycle and pedal your way around. In Brisbane, for example, you can hop on a CityCycle in the city for a casual membership and your first half hour is free.
Going four-wheel-driving on the beach is actually a cause of damage to our beaches. Yes, it’s a popular activity but that doesn’t make it right. Similarly, using vehicles such as dirt bikes and ATVs that tear up the landscape leading to erosion are not good for the environment and leave big scars behind.
Don’t chop down or otherwise damage trees, or harm animals that you may not feel comfortable with. And be careful with barbecues and other naked flames as Australia’s bushfire risk is significant.
So many things come with disposable packaging these days – items like food, clothing, shoes, toiletries, souvenirs and so on – that it causes quite an impact on the landfill problem. When disposing of the paper, plastic and cardboard that comes with your purchases, put it in the rubbish bin in your hotel or other accommodation.
When out, be sure to make use of the rubbish bins and never drop unwanted refuse on the ground. Dispose of cigarette butts in designated receptacles and hold on to your empty beverage cups or takeaway food containers until you find a bin.
One of the reasons why Australia is so popular among tourists is our clean, pristine environment. It only stays that way through lots of effort on the part of government and private organisations and initiatives, and when locals and tourists play their part.
If you want to find Australia as beautiful as it was when you were here the last time, do your bit to make sure you adhere to the above ten tips, and tell others when you return home that we care about being environmentally friendly here.