<a href="http://gmagazine.com.au/blogs/julie#">Green challenges</a>

Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

New challenge: multi-purpose products

Swiss army knife

Credit: iStockphoto

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What a great idea for a challenge - finding and using multi-purpose products. At it’s core, this is a challenge to reduce waste.

We can reduce the packaging wasted on single-purpose items; we can reduce the time we spend shopping for the individual items we need; we can reduce the amount of money we spend on all the things that marketers and corporations are trying to convince us are essential.

As well as the benefits to us, it’s pretty good for the environment too. To make a product and package it and send it to the shops requires energy, water, and sometimes oil. Plastic and cardboard packaging can be recycled, but that requires even more energy and transport.

There’s a reason the first of our 3 R’s is “Reduce”, ahead of Reuse and Recycle. It’s much easier to not produce this stuff in the first place than it is to find an eco-friendly way of disposing it later on.

I’ve spent a lot of effort over the years trying to find creative uses for the stuff that can’t be recycled. I’ve come to believe it’s easier to just not bring the packaging and single-use items home in the first place! There’s no particular virtue in having a full recycling bin.

So where do we start? I’m going to walk around my home and see what I can come up with - wherever I see multiples of the same object, I reckon that’s an opportunity to find a multi-purpose alternative.

We’ve got an opportunity here to explore things like slow fashion, new cleaning methods, energy-efficient appliances and other green ideas. I’ve already made a start on the cleaning products, which I’ll write about next. I’m also in the process of figuring out ways to have a more multi-purpose wardrobe.

Let’s see what other examples we can come up with over the next month!