<a href="http://www.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.

Quality over quantity

Vintage handkerchiefs

Credit: iStockphoto

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In my last post I talked about how frugality can help us save the planet. But saving cereal boxes to make magazine holders isn't the only way to go. It's possible to think more high-end when it comes to reusing, repairing and refilling.

Here's just a few ideas for around the house:

  • Vintage or fine cotton handkerchiefs instead of tissues; cotton napkins instead of paper towels
  • Refillable fountain pens instead of plastic biros
  • High-quality reusable bags instead of accepting disposable ones
  • Stainless steel water bottles instead of plastic throwaways

I've tried all of these except the pen - they're expensive, so I might have to ask for one as a gift!

There's also the idea of product-sharing systems, which is a fancy new name for something we used to do all the time: sharing stuff. Libraries are the obvious example, but there are so many other ideas that allow many people to reuse one object that might otherwise get thrown out. If lots of people pool their resources, we don't each have to think of a way to reuse an item.

  • Toy libraries, so when the kids inevitably get bored you can swap for something new
  • Car-share services like or taxis are good for inner-city living - you could even go car-free
  • Handbag hire or dress hire for special occasions
  • Tool hire - you'll need this when you improve your repair skills!
  • Games rental or DVD rental - you can even rent movies online via iTunes, no physical product needed for something you'll only watch once

By hiring and sharing, we reduce the burden our purchases make on our environmental footprint, but we still get to use quality products. I'm a big fan and hope to see more services like this in the future.