Zero Waste (Fund)Raising awareness!

The EcoCentre has put together a Zero Waste raffle worth over $100, thanks to the support of several generous contributors . Tickets are $2 each or 3 for $5 and are available at the EcoCentre, Mon-Fri 10-4, Saturdays 10-12. Message us if you’d like some but can’t call in when we’re open.

Zero Waste is a growing movement that focuses not just on reducing the amount of stuff we send to landfill, but also reducing the amount of unnecessary waste in our lives in general. Yes some plastics can be recycled, but only so many times before they too end up as landfill and along the way they shed micro-particles that end up in our water, soil and food chain. So many goods have become so low cost that it is cheaper, and often easier, to replace them rather than fix them. But what then happens to the broken items and all the resources tied up in them? So often this too ends up in landfill, and then there are the issues of the environmental and human cost of production to take into account. Things may seem cheap on the shelves, but their full cost to the planet can be huge.

Tackling this issue can seem Himalayan in proportion, but the same approach is needed as climbing Everest – one step at a time! Even Ed Hillary didn’t try to conquer Everest in one go, he started much smaller, practised and refined his skills along the way. You aren’t likely to fit all your rubbish for a year into a small jar or bin first go, however you can drastically reduce the number of times you put your bin bags out (and not by hiding them in the shed!).

So here’s what is in the raffle hamper and how it can help you cut your waste:

A locally made harakeke basket – lovingly made from a renewable local resource, will rot away eventually, or can be safely burned.

5 rolls of Smartass toilet paper – this is made from the waste products of the sugarcane industry, and fast growing bamboo, plus it is wrapped in tissue paper printed with vegetable dyes – no nasty chemicals used in the manufacturing, saving a waste product from disposal, no trees cut down and no plastic to wrap it in.

6 reusable produce bags (2 each of large, medium & small) – use instead of plastic bags for loose fruit & veg, also bulk bin items such as nuts, beans etc. They can also be used to keep things together in your handbag/luggage, as a way to give away surplus produce, you can rinse produce still in the bag and hang it up to drain, use them for drying herbs etc at home, and many other uses! If they look a bit grubby pop them in the wash. If the ribbon/string wears out it is easily replaced – thread it through using a safety pin, you can use anything that you have to hand, even a shoe lace! Cooking from scratch with fresh and dried ingredients can massively cut your rubbish down, and if you’re time poor cook up large batches and freeze or dehydrate portions for later, use a slow cooker, or buddy up with a friend (or several!) and take turns to cook!

Pack of 4 beeswax wraps – these can be used instead of clingfilm/glad wrap over leftover food, to wrap packed lunch items in, to cover bowls, half used fruit/veg etc. They just need a sponge clean with cold water and you can reuse them again. Not suitable for using with meat though as they can’t be hot washed. As they start to lose their ‘stick’ you can top them up with more bees wax (heaps of clips on YouTube) or pop them on the compost heap or in the worm farm as they are 100% cotton or linen.

Cloth shopping bag – stronger than a plastic carrier, easier to carry (this one has a messenger style shoulder strap), can be used many, many times. Washable too! Keep your produce bags in it and you’re all set.

Knitted dishcloth/facecloth – handmade from 100% cotton, just pop it in the wash with your towels and use again and again and again. It won’t disintegrate like a disposable cloth, nor send lots of plastic microfibres down the drain.

1kg Baking Soda, 1kg Washing Soda, 750ml white vinegar, 1 bar plain soap – there isn’t much you can’t get clean with this combination! If you’re needing help with this we’ve popped in the MAKE cleaning products and cosmetics leaflets, our own baking soda leaflet and the Kaitaia TimeBank booklet which all have recipes and ideas. Much better to have a few versatile (and inexpensive!) ingredients than cupboards full of single purpose products full of things you can’t pronounce that do nasty things to our bodies and the environment, not to mention all that extra plastic packaging!

There is also a wee bar of handmade manuka honey & turmeric soap and a sample pot of homemade concentrated conditioner (with a link to the recipe) for use in the bathroom, and a bar of neem soap with instructions on how to use it to make neem spray to use as an insecticide in the garden.

Most of these things (and more!) are available for sale at the EcoCentre if you want to try them but don’t buy raffle tickets, or don’t win! We’re all on our own Zero Waste journeys so pop in and have a chat, some of our volunteers have had more practice at working towards Zero Waste than others so don’t expect a bunch of experts, but there’ll always be things we can learn from each other, and share the frustrations and challenges!

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