Five everyday actions you can take to help the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation is making progress, but there's a lot more to do. Every action, no matter how big or small, can make a difference for the Reef.

Here's five things you can do, from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
Credit: Gary Cranitch
Credit: Gary Cranitch

1. Cut food waste

Australian households waste 2.5 million tonnes of food each year. That’s nearly 300 kilograms per person.

When food waste enters landfill it rots and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. For every tonne of food waste in landfill, a tonne of greenhouse gas is generated.

The most commonly wasted foods in Australia are everyday staples like bread, milk, fruit, vegetables and bagged salads. Reduce wastage by buying only what you need.

If you do have spoiled food, compost your food scraps to cut the amount of food that ends up in landfill. Composting reduces emissions, helps to mitigate climate change and, as an added bonus, you’ll produce an excellent all-natural fertiliser for your garden.

2. Be water wise

Cutting your daily shower from eight minutes to four minutes saves up to 13,140 litres of water and 350 kilograms of carbon dioxide every year.

It doesn’t take much to drastically reduce your household’s water consumption. Install a water-saving shower head, replace appliances like washing machines and dishwashers with water-efficient models and turn the tap off while you’re brushing your teeth and washing your hands. Heating water is incredibly energy intensive so use cold water whenever you can and turn the temperature down on your hot water service over summer.

Also consider how much water you need outside, which can account for more than 40% of your total household usage. This percentage is often even higher if you have a pool or large garden. Rainwater tanks can be a great option to reduce the amount of drinking water you use on things like watering the garden and washing the car.
Credit: Gary Cranitch
Credit: Gary Cranitch

3. Take public transport

Over a 10km trip, a single passenger produces around 1.7kg of carbon dioxide in a car, compared to just 0.4kg on a train.

It may come as a surprise that the aviation industry isn’t the largest producer of carbon dioxide in the transport sector. In fact, road travel accounts for three-quarters of all global transport emissions. In Australia, cars that run on petrol are responsible for around half of all household carbon emissions.

So why not leave your car at home and ride, walk, carpool or use public transport as often as you can. If you need to use your car every day, consider switching to a more fuel-efficient model or going electric.
Credit: Gary Cranitch
Credit: Gary Cranitch

4. Say no to single-use plastic

Billions of pieces of plastic waste, including discarded items and microplastics, litter coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific region, including the Great Barrier Reef. Plastic has direct negative impacts for Reef wildlife and habitats, as well as for human health. It also contributes to emissions throughout its lifecycle – from production to management as a waste product.

Say no to single-use plastic items like cling wrap, straws and disposable coffee cups (or at the very least the lids!) and reduce your overall plastic use by choosing alternatives like bees wax wraps, cloth shopping bags and glass coffee cups or lunch containers.

Make sure you collect all your household soft plastics like bread bags and biscuit packets and recycle them – your local supermarket should have a collection point. This waste is kept out of landfill and can be turned into outdoor furniture, signs and bollards.

5. Unplug electrical devices

Leaving your computer and monitor on for a year generates the same amount of greenhouse gas as a car travelling from Sydney to Perth.

Most electrical devices in your home and office consume energy even when they’re on standby or switched off. That means they’re costing you money and producing harmful emissions that contribute to climate change.

Turn off appliances at the wall when you’re not using them, switch to energy-efficient models when possible, install LED light bulbs in your home and office and choose renewable energy from your power company. If you can, install solar panels to reduce your household’s reliance on the grid or switch to a green energy provider.
Credit: Gary Cranitch
Credit: Gary Cranitch