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Sustainability At Home | Virtual Science Space

Sustainability starts with you

This week, we are looking at BACKYARD SCIENCE. At Science Space, when we talk about backyard science, it is not only in our own physical backyard but in general the living world around us.

Learning about the living world means learning about how the planet we live on works, and how we work with it to ensure a bright future.

An important concept when it comes to our living world is sustainability.

What is Sustainability?

The world we live in only has a limited number of resources. That means, that while it feels like we have an abundance of everything we need in our local communities, there is only a certain amount of all the earth’s materials. And once we use them all, they are gone. Here is where sustainability comes in. If you have a look at the United Nations website, you’ll see a bunch of brightly coloured boxes called the “UN Sustainable Development Goals.” The 12th one on the list is this one:

According to their numbers, about 12 tonnes of resources (like food, energy and water) were used by each person on Earth last year. That’s about 2 African Elephants worth of stuff.

We need to drastically change the way we think about how much we consume. We don’t necessarily need to cut down, but perhaps consider whether there are things we can do to re-use and recycle.

Let’s Talk About Plastic

It seems like plastic is everywhere. There are some good reasons for its takeover; it’s cheap to make, it’s strong and it can be moulded to suit seemingly any purpose. Since the 1950s, plastic has been very slowly creeping into everything inside our houses.

But while it uses are endless, it’s pretty well-accepted that plastic has caused an environmental disaster.

We need to do something. According to the United Nations, if our current rates of consumption continue, we’re going to end up with over 12 billion tonnes of plastic sitting around taking up space that we don’t have on Earth.

What Can We Do At Home?

Fortunately, every little bit that we do can help. It might not seem like much, but cutting down on single-use plastics in your home can contribute. The World-Wide fund for nature (WWF Australia), the average Aussie uses up to 130 Kg of plastic per year! We can cut that down! 

Here at Science Space, we’re doing our bit to help cut the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfill.

Here are a few suggestions we’ve pulled together with the help of the Wollongong City Council’s recycling guides. We hope it’ll help you think about how to change habits. It’s hard, but we’re all in this together!

  1. Reduce the amount of single-use plastics
    1. Most of us are already doing things like using keep cups, metal water bottles and cutting out straws. Plus there are a lot of companies who are making eco-friendly packaging. Science Space uses biodegradable containers wherever possible and doesn’t stock straws or plastic cutlery in our kiosk. It’s not always possible to cut single-use plastics out completely though. There are genuine uses for plastic straws or you might not be able to justify the cost of that hydroflask. That’s ok! In fact, that brings me to the next point.
  2. Turn single-use plastics into multi-use plastics.
    1. Ok sure, it doesn’t eliminate them, but instead of throwing straws or plastic containers out, why not re purpose them instead? At Science Space, we’re really lucky to have access to a shiny new STEM zone. We have rows and rows of cupboards and storage that we use to stockpile materials we use for engineering challenges and experiments. These include single-use plastics as well as recyclable materials like cardboard boxes. You can find a list of challenges on our YouTube channel here or do a quick search through other Science Centres’ websites. There are plenty of ideas for activities you can do with your kids to get them thinking.
  3. Recycle where you can!
    1. Here in the Illawarra, we were one of the first places in Australia to bring in the classic Yellow Bins. I don’t know about you, but even though I grew up here, I still have to think about whether I can recycle things or not.

Here’s a good link to get you started – the Wollongong City Council has a comprehensive list.

Basically, you need to rinse out tins and plastic containers in order to recycle them. Tinfoil is recyclable, but make sure you scrunch it into a ball so it can be sorted easily (remember that around Easter!). One thing I didn’t know reading through the list, was that you can recycle shredded paper but only if it’s enclosed in a cardboard box. It makes me wonder about what happened to all those tiny bits of paper I’ve recycled over the years…….


It’s hard to change life-long habits, and sometimes being sustainable can be expensive. But there are ways to get started. What is it you like to do in your house to be sustainable?

Do you have any tips for us? Pop us an email and let us know!