Australians who pat themselves on the back because they recycle are at risk of being lulled into a false sense of achievement, warned celebrity gardener and landscape architect Costa Georgiadis.
Mr Georgiadis, who hosts ABC television show Gardening Australia, said recycling was simply one step in the chain to sustainable living and Australians needed to do more to reduce their carbon footprint.
Mr Georgiadis will be in Queensland on May 28 to speak at the seventh annual Logan Eco-Action Festival – the largest and most popular environment festival of its kind in South East Queensland.
“Recycling is great, but it’s not the answer,” Mr Georgiadis said.
“Recycling is the stepping stone to changing behaviour. The convenience of buying single use items is a habit we can change through our daily choices. We can shift the goal posts with every dollar we spend.
“We also need to be thinking about reusing, repurposing and renewing in our daily lives – everything from glass jars to old furniture and clothes.
“Instead of patting ourselves on the back for being good recyclers, we need to start thinking about changing what we do.”
Mr Georgiadis said the most important step towards living sustainably was growing food at home.
“Many people say they don’t have any space or they think it will take a lot of time or work, neither of which is true,” he said.
“The trick is to start small and if you don’t have a front or back garden, look at your courtyard, verandah, rooftop or a community garden. Even sprout some beans in the kitchen.
“Anything you grow and eat is something you are not having to buy which means less packaging, less recycling and less greenhouse gas emissions.”
Research by The Australia Institute found that although one in every two Australian households grew some kind of food at home, the yields were low and there was a high level of participation turnover. Families with young children were the most likely to grow their own food.
“We really need to change our behaviours long before we get to the recycling stage and growing your own food is the first step,” Mr Georgiadis said.
“When people start tasting their own fresh produce, it really speaks for itself and they then find themselves growing more.”
The theme of the 2017 LEAF festival was Connect To Nature and Mr Georgiadis would be amongst several stall holders and presenters providing advice, practical demonstrations and workshops on innovative ways to live leaner and greener.
From workshops on cheesemaking, bee-keeping and upcycling to lessons on sustainable gardening, the annual festival continues to expand with this year’s free live music line-up to be headlined by blues and roots singer Ash Grunwald and folk favourite, Sahara Beck.
The family-friendly event, being held at Griffith University, Meadowbank on Sunday May 28, will offer kids an ‘active and wild zone’ complete with rock climbing, jumping castles and expressive bike classes.
There will also be do-it-yourself workshops and demonstrations on making the fermented Korean dish, kimchi, and how to upcycle old household furniture for a new lease on life.
Food trucks, organic coffee, a ‘zen den’ devoted to health and wellbeing, and stalls with native plants will all be on offer at the one-day event.
LEAF will take place Sunday 28 May 2017 from 10am-3pm at Griffith University Logan Campus, 68 University Drive, Meadowbrook. For more information, visit www.logan.qld.gov.au/leaf
1. Remember recycling is just one step in the sustainability chain. Think about how to reuse, repurpose and renew everything from glass jars to old furniture and clothes.
2. Grow your own food somewhere – in pots on your verandah, on your roof, in your garden or in a community plot.
3. Start small – sprout some beans or make some of your yoghurt.
4. Buy in bulk and share with family or friends. Single and small-serve items mean more packaging which needs more recycling which creates more greenhouse gas emissions.
5. Find your closest crop swap. If you already grow your own herbs or tomatoes, find your local crop swap and exchange your produce for something you do not grow. Thousands of Australians are crop swapping to save money, reduce waste and share their good within a like-minded community.