Rosie Morrison lives in Wellington and is in her first year studying to be a paramedic at Whitireia Polytechnic. When she’s not learning about CPR and what to look for in a sick patient, she’ll be at home in her Mt Cook flat, getting muddy knees in the garden, crafting letters to her friends, baking banana loaves or sipping green tea and plotting her future simple and satisfied life. In May 2017, Rosie attended the panel discussion ‘Waste in the Food System’, organised by What We Have to Lose. The event featured The Rubbish Trip as panelists alongside Kellie Benner from the Wellington City Council’s branch of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, and Benjamin Johnson from The Wellington Free Store. At the event, The Rubbish Trip delivered a talk on food packaging waste, and contributed to the panel discussion that followed the three talks, which grappled with questions about how individuals can reduce waste, how to remain motivated to make ethical lifestyle changes while not feeling overwhelmed by the scale of the problems, and the interface between environmental and social justice. In this post, Rosie shares with us the role that The Rubbish Trip’s presentation had on her own lifestyle, and the waste activism she now undertakes, including on her instagram, Plastic Free Flatties, which she runs with her flatmates.
After attending your talk alongside those other epic humans from Love Food Hate Waste and The Wellington Free Store, I came home super fizzed up about sorting out my own wasteful lifestyle once and for all. Up until then it had been a thought on the side, but after hearing you both talk so openly and honestly, it really spurred me on. I came home, wrote a list of to-dos and from there things have just looked more and more plastic free!
Encouraging others to jump on board has always felt a bit challenging for me, as I guess I really dislike being pushed into anything, so would hate to feel like I was doing that to anyone else. However, the age old advice of ‘lead by example’ has never been so appropriate. After settling in to my new mission of not buying any plastic, my three flatties quickly jumped on board too, and what were once pretty mundane supermarket trips have now turned into epic stories of stoke-factor when each of us returns buzzing to the flat with stories of how we manged to avoid plastic today. From making our own nut milks, bread, kimchi, kombucha, and taking our own containers everywhere we go, the daily snapchats/FB messages/text messages between us all have revolved around our combined mission to escape the clutches of pesky plastic, and we’re loving it!
I remember a few key things from that evening where you gave the talk; one being how to live with a little discomfit. That really resonated with me, as I guess it wasn’t cemented for me until hearing it then how true that was; as a society we’ve got this feeling that when we want something, we want it now, and going without seems like a punishment that we shouldn’t have to undergo.
The other thing that stayed with me was the combination of heated passion and gentleness you, as a partnership, brought to the talk. Reminding us that no one was actually out to ‘ruin the world’ was a really good way to make sure this didn’t become a war, eg. ‘us vs them’. Being waste-free/plastic-free is a choice and making it a gentle but firm one is the best way, I think, to continue leading by example. The more we talk openly about it, the more people will reconsider their own choices. It’s only a matter of time!
Making a small but valuable change in our own lives has felt of real importance, given us a boost of confidence, and I think most importantly for me, connected us to people in this awesome wee city of Wellington who are interested and impressed by what we’re doing. Hopefully a few of them have gone home and reconsidered some of their own shopping choices – and the ball will keep rolling from there! So, thank you both for being such a good starting point; without hearing that talk I think I’d still be wandering round the edges of this issue and not really committing.
We’ve also started our own Instagram, Plastic Free Flatties, to document how we’re going, and help others who might be feeling a bit unsure about the whole thing to see just how easy it is. Don’t get me wrong – we’re definitely not pros yet, and there are a lot of confession sessions when we have slip ups. But the main thing is that we want to be really authentic – not give people a false idea of how it is, and also we are now conscious of our choices, which feels pretty rad.
This post is part of our blog series “A Waste of Time?: Preaching to ‘the converted’”. You can read about the origin and kaupapa of this series here.