ABA + Sustainability

Sustainability May blog post

Reducing waste is a personal goal. I’m very conscious of how much I actually waste, and though I have a long way to go, I know I also have come a long way

This year, I have very slowly been becoming more aware of the amount of waste I produce. Rubbish, recycling, food scraps – they all add up. Take-away coffees, plastic water bottles, even brushing my teeth – the packaging the toothbrush and toothpaste come in, and then the containers themselves.

So much waste!

So, as any good behaviour analyst would, I thought about how I could change my behaviour.

Recently I read a post about behaviour analysis in environmental sustainability, and the ever-present issue of climate change, and specifically, how ABA can help. It was a fascinating read, and yet another example, on a wider-level, of how ABA can help “save the world!”

In the meantime, I was thinking about how I could make small changes, that may have longer lasting impacts. Turning off lights and power points when I’m not using them. Using travel coffee mugs and reusable drink bottles. Separating all my recycling.

In regards to not using my car, that would be very difficult. My clients are all over Sydney, and, apart from our public transportation system being completely unreliable, Sydney is so vast, it would not be feasible. However I also recently found some websites that allow you to purchase carbon emissions offsets, and even plant some trees, to somewhat make up for that!

In order to make these changes, I had to take small steps. Nothing too drastic, otherwise, I probably wouldn’t stick with. Staring small, and reminding myself every time I leave a room, or take some rubbish downstairs to the bins. I have about 15 “green” bags in my car that I use when I go to the supermarket! I carry reusable straws in my handbag, so when I’m out and about, I can say “no thanks” to a straw in my drink 🙂

I also had to think of reinforcers. Fortunately, my bright pink kate spade glass water bottle, has been highly reinforcing (and encouraging me to drink more water, which is another benefit).

pink drink
Drink Pink!

The next step is food scraps. Up to 40% of our food is wasted before it even gets to us! And up to 20% of our food is thrown out from our fridges and cupboards! Although I live in an apartment, with no composting facilities within walking distance (I really don’t want to put compost in my car!), I’m sure there is an apartment solution I just haven’t found yet.

Penrith City Council, in Sydney’s West, provides each home with a small compost bin. Since 2009, they have managed to increase their landfill diversion rate from 21% to 65%, due to their composting and recycling strategies. This is a great example of #EverydayABA and encouraging small behaviour change strategies.

A lot of other Sydney councils follow similar systems, including having a smaller “waste” bin, and bigger “recycling” bins. While it is difficult at first to maintain (any change is scary and different!), over time, it becomes easier. In order to ensure your “waste” bin doesn’t overflow and smell, you figure out what percentage of your waste could actually become recycling material!

3-Bin service - New Logo - Icon size
Three different bins – different sizes, for different waste products.


More recently, a new TV show on the ABC, called “War on Waste“, has a lot of people talking, and actively thinking about just how much we waste each day. Hopefully it is ‘planting the seed’, to make people more aware and try to reduce their waste.

We are very lucky to have such beautiful country in Australia. We want to ensure it remains as beautiful, for centuries to come. Sustainability is possible, and it starts with small steps from each of us.

And if you want to start somewhere, “Plastic Free July” may be the way to go! Check out the website for ideas, and sign up to use less plastic, this July.

PS – Remember to ‘set yourself up for success’ – start small, don’t go too big, too soon!


ABA + Sustainability

Goals for 2015

As I am waiting for my flight back to Sydney (in the middle of a massive storm :s) I thought I should make another blog post. This one is on some goals for 2015. I usually avoid creating goals for myself, because if I have nothing ‘set in stone’ then if nothing happens, I can’t be disappointed! (I know, that is terrible of me, I need practice what I preach more!)

However, it definitely is something I need to keep in mind to help keep Great Start ES going and moving along, and I think the goals I have are achievable. I’m sure everyone creates goals, and keeps things moving, but I did see a few others post goals, including Tiffany at The Behavior Station, and Tricia-Lee from Behaviourist At Play post goals for 2015, so it did prompt me to get moving 🙂

  1. Continue with at least one more subject towards my BCBA coursework.
  2. Get back into supervision for my BCBA certification.
  3. Attend at least 2 conferences.
  4. Read at least 2 research articles a month on ABA technology.
  5. Learn about a different application of ABA (i.e. not related to Autism).
  6. Collaborate with other behaviour analysts and disseminate information about ABA

I think 6 is enough. They are sort of ongoing for the year anyway. I do really want to get back into study. I am much more motivated when I start studying, and I really need to get cracking on my supervision. I did do the online supervision training module, which was informative. And I really want to see different applications of ABA. Just like finding everyday examples helps me to understand it better, I think seeing it in another field would be not only beneficial, but interesting. I’m quite interested in the application of ABA to prisons and the justice system.

There are already two conferences I can go to this year, possibly three. I don’t know if I am quite ready to present (or have the time to prepare) just yet, but that may become goal 7.

I think 2015 is definitely going to be a good year. It is definitely off to a great start… 😀 (I’ve been waiting all year to do that!)

Goals for 2015