How can my vote help the planet?

Collective community actions often outpace government commitments. 

Whether you’re the head of a household or a multinational corporation, your actions do have environmental impact. You have more influence than you might know. With Earth Day 2023 approaching on April 22, it’s time to vote with your actions to protect the planet. 

Did you know that individuals just like you are at the heart of every major planet-protecting initiative and policy?

Person shouting into a loud speaking, taking action on Earth Day.

Single-use plastic items like straws, plastic bags, polystyrene food containers and more are progressively being banned in countries like Canada, England, Australia and New Zealand. This global trend can be traced back to initiatives like Plastic Free July, founded by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz in a small Western Australia town in 2011. Now, the movement inspires more than  140 million people around the world to curb their plastic consumption and make lasting sustainable lifestyle changes.

In 2015, Japan adopted a United Nations proposal to cut food waste in half by 2030. But community leaders from the rural Japanese town of Kamikatsu say they’re more than 80% of the way towards implementing an entirely circular economy for their 1,500 residents. The Kamikatsu approach incorporates numerous waste-reduction tactics including recycling across 45 separate waste categories, sharing usable items in a free thrift shop, and using food waste at the local brewery and cafe.

In the US, the state of California has enacted recycling reform. The law aims to give consumers accurate on-pack information about what rubbish is accepted through kerbside recycling systems. It’s anticipated this will enable more informed purchase decisions and a reduction in recycling contamination, while encouraging manufacturers to use recycled materials and produce municipally recyclable products and packaging. This legislation is expected to spark change throughout the country and beyond.

Positive change is accelerated when actions by individuals, communities, and lawmakers align. And you can be part of the progress!

It’s Earth Month and your voice has impact! Let’s take action.

  1. Get in touch with your local member of parliament 

Your local MP is your voice in parliament. You have the right to contact them to discuss any issue affecting you and the community they represent. You could encourage them to implement more free local recycling solutions for bulky items like e-waste and mattresses. Or, you might push for kerbside pick-up of food and garden organics composting in your council area if it’s yet to be rolled out. 

It’s easy to give your local MP your two cents – just search for their contact details via government directories in Australia and New Zealand.

  1. Contribute to public consultation on draft bills

Before new bills become law in Australia and New Zealand, they may be opened to the public for feedback. This won’t always be the case, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for community consultations on bills related to waste and climate policies. You can search for bills open to public feedback in New Zealand and track bills currently before parliament in Australia to be notified if consultations open. 

  1. Back petitions that hold industries and governments accountable

There are a host of reputable environmental groups on local, national, and global scales that are actively working to protect our planet. By signing your name to petitions created by these groups, your voice can be heard to enact positive change. 

Any individual can also submit a petition to Australia and New Zealand governments to request action around existing laws or policies. Be sure to check if the issue you want addressed falls under federal, state or local council jurisdiction, and tick off all the relevant processes.

  1. Support charities that clean up the planet 

Do good for the Earth by supporting non-profits that are already leading the charge. There are charities around the world that run waste education platforms, operate ongoing ocean and land clean-ups, and help businesses and communities make sustainable changes. You can support their efforts through donations or on the front lines as a volunteer.

You can also fund this kind of work simply by recycling with TerraCycle. When you send us rubbish through many of our free recycling programs, you earn TerraCycle points that are redeemable as charitable donations. So, put your points behind groups which remove waste from the environment, like Clean Up Australia or the TerraCycle Global Foundation.

  1. Vote with your dollar

With great spending power comes great responsibility. Whether you’re investing in a new car or doing your weekly grocery run, the purchases you make impact the planet. You can vote for a better future with what you buy and don’t buy. Consider how you can reduce your consumption by buying less and reusing whenever you can. Strengthen the circular economy by recycling what you can kerbside, and keep hard-to-recycle items out of landfills and from incineration through TerraCycle’s free recycling programs and Zero Waste Boxes.

  1. Demand action from your favourite brands

If your go-to skincare or coffee brand doesn’t have an end-of-life solution for their products or packaging, let them know it’s something you care about! Brands aren’t obligated to offer recycling or reuse programs for their products and packaging, but giving feedback on this can help launch or scale solutions. 

You could suggest brands make their products kerbside recyclable, or that they sponsor a free recycling program through TerraCycle for their hard-to-recycle waste. Incorporating recycled materials into products and packaging is another great opportunity for brands looking to minimise their impact on the planet. For many products, a reuse packaging model like Loop can help brands cut even more waste out of their operations.

Taking any of these actions can bolster positive environmental change at a more powerful collective level. It’s just like recycling: we see the benefits soar when more individuals and groups work to make a difference. So, vote for the planet with your wallet, your time, your vote, and your recycling habits on Earth Day and every day.

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