Winning the War on Waste: What You Can Do Now

You know that theory – and also the underrated and deeply terrible film with Ashton Kutcher – The Butterfly Effect? It all started in 1972 when Konrad Lorenz asked, ‘Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?’  Basically, the idea is that small things can have a non-linear effect on a complex system. Now in English: a small change in starting conditions can lead to a vastly different outcome. 

You may ask, what do butterflies have to with The War on Waste and the plastic 330ml bottle of Mount Franklin water you bought at the cinema for six dollars? Well, you, my friend, are the butterfly.

In the onslaught of scary statistics and the Armageddon-esque articles that appear in your newsfeed about the fate of the world and our planet’s wildlife, it’s easy to feel helpless, like there’s nothing little ol’ you do can fix anything. And that’s where you’re absolutely, positively, wrong. The butterfly is very important.

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The truth is, things are a bit dire. It is estimated that by 2050, our oceans will have more plastic than fish. One hundred million marine animals are killed every year because 40% of all plastics are single-use. There are 165 million tonnes of plastic in there already. And the waste in our oceans that’s literally strangling our wildlife isn’t even the tip of the iceberg (not that there’s many of those left).

Photo credit: srqpix CC BY 2.0

Humanity’s waste is getting so out of hand that our landfill sites are growing wildly out of control, there’s literally a garbage island! Waste creates pollution, which in turn creates greenhouse gases, which is not good for the planet or for its inhabitants.

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Now back to the butterfly. How does a flap of a butterfly’s wings create a tornado? How can one person do anything about the state of the planet or what’s going to happen in thirty years? You may ask yourself, with 7.5 billion other people on the planet, how can I make any significant change – and why should I try?

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You should, because you matter. Start small, change something about your life and about your waste now, and we’ll see the effect in years to come no matter how big or small. Big change doesn’t happen overnight, it happens slowly. It happens one person, one flap of a butterfly’s wings, at a time.

Here’s what you can do right now:

Every single person on this earth has an impact. The simplest way to help the War on Waste is to start eliminating single-use plastics and as much of your waste as possible. The average person creates 1.4 tonnes of waste per year. Plastic take 1,000 years to break down, so multiply those 13 bags by the number of people on earth. It’s a lot. Which is why you must act now.

Eliminate Single-Use Plastics

Photo credit: Chemist 4 U CC BY 2.0

Buy a reusable drink bottle. Not plastic. Stop buying plastic water bottles you throw out after a couple of hours, that bottle will be around for 1000 years. Buy a keep cup, stop using those throwaway coffee cups – they add up.

Reusable Beeswax Wraps

Ditch the gladwrap. Buy reusable beeswax wraps to keep your cheese fresh and your leftovers wrapped. There is no excuse for gladwrap anymore.

You can also make your own beeswax wraps.

Wooden Toothbrush

Do you know how many plastic toothbrushes are thrown out every year in Australia? 30 million. Do you know how long we will have those plastic toothbrushes? 1000 years.

Learn How to Recycle

Please, just google it.


Get your kitchen waste into your compost bin, or your dodge garden situation. It’s an easy way to cut down on waste, and hey – it’s free! Once food is in landfill it breaks down and emits greenhouse gases like methane, which is 25 times more potent than c02.

Buy Bulk Food

Get yourself a set of those fancy glass containers and head down to a bulk food store. Try Naked Foods in Toowong. We have a great range of pantry staples, spices, nuts and more. No more useless packaging and plastic!

Be the butterfly.

Katie Robertson is a writer, editor, and avid health researcher, paving her own way to wellness. Katie has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing and is the retail manager at WholeLife Pharmacy & Healthfoods. When she’s not working, Katie lives in the world of fiction and you can often find her hiding in her herb garden with a good book.