Wednesday, 4 July 2018

New Zealand: 100% waste

Earlier this year, an American tourist posted on his blog that we in New Zealand are in no way true to the "100% Pure New Zealand" label. I totally agree with him.

We can't sell our collected materials for recycling: what choice is there but to landfill? We can't even recycle our own plastic because no one is buying all our 'recycling'. As I have posted before (here), Kiwis consume 734kg of plastic each year, per person, with nowhere to send it to. So it mostly goes to landfill (there is a small PET recycling plant in Wellington, Flight Plastics: the only one of its kind in New Zealand). We have no ability to recycle aluminium in NZ so it goes to landfill unless the price justifies the shipping from here to Australia or Japan. There is only one steel resmelter for the North Island, nothing in the South Island, so the SI stuff goes to landfill. I could go on... oh, I am.

In Europe Sweden burns their non-recyclable everything at highly efficient furnace plants which generate electricity. The plants have amazing particulate scrubbers so nothing toxic goes into the atmosphere, and I think even the stuff trapped in their scrubbers can go back into the furnaces. But that requires lots of infrastructure which we don't have in New Zealand.

In addition, the Cook Strait is one of the most expensive pieces of water in the world to cross, so this would need to be a government initiative, underwritten by all of us in taxes. Not a light-weight undertaking.

So what can we do? There appears to be no successive government will to make change, but we can take individual action. We can try to consume less and to tell those around us how they too can make better choices. We need to make things as easy as we can on ourselves, else we won't keep it up. For that, we have to be organised. 

OK. 25 ideas for how to get organised:
  1. Grow your own veges where possible. Start small. Repeat what grows well. Save your seed.
  2. Bottle or freeze excess production for the off-season. 
  3. Buy veges and fruit in season.
  4. Buy direct from the producer where possible. 
  5. Buy in bulk, taking your own containers (don't forget to tare off the scales at the shop). 
  6. Don't buy individual small packets in a big bag, even when they are cheaper. Buy a large bag and collect small containers to put single serves into.
  7. Carry mesh bags and cloth shopping bags everywhere you go (I have a set in each car - yes we are a two car family - and two in my handbag). 
  8. Try to buy genuinely recyclable materials: cotton, wool, glass, steel, paper.
  9. Get a soda stream if you like fizzy drink.
  10. Make your own yoghurt (so, so easy!).
  11. Fill your own beer or cider from a craft brewer in recyclable containers. 
  12. Buy milk direct from a local farmer. Use your own glass bottles.
  13. Don't use clingfilm. Get some of the silicone stretch covers instead.
  14. Avoid plastic where possible. Leave plastic behind at the shop (so they have the cost of dealing with it ...which may make them change suppliers - or at least feedback to them that the customer opinion tide is turning). 
  15. Lobby for glass bottle deposits whenever you can. 
  16. Read the newspaper with an online subscription.
  17. Get all your bills emailed.
  18. Get a "no junk mail" sign on your letterbox.
  19. Buy coffee beans in bulk from a local roaster. Don't use coffee pods. 
  20. When you are tempted to buy something new, postpone the purchase for one week. Often we have gone off the idea.
  21. Get an old sewing machine. Mend or retrim clothes rather than buy new ones. 
  22. Swap clothes with a friend.
  23. Buy second-hand. Op-shop.
  24. Repair appliances rather than buy new ones, even if it is more expensive. 
  25. Repurpose, gift, swap, give away, donate things you no longer use.
Trust me, doing this will not turn us into hairy toed hippies. It should make us aware of just how much crap we each unthinkingly generate each year, though. 

If we can each make change, a step - or 25 - at a time, we can make New Zealand pure again.



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