Happy Plastic Free July 2017, everyone! We hope that you are ready for whatever plastic-avoiding commitments you have set for yourself, your family, your workplace and/or your community. We wish you all the best and share with you our number one tip, which is simply: whatever level of commitment you adopt this July, stick to your guns and you’ll be surprised by how quickly new habits bed-in 🙂
Today is also Day One of The Rubbish Trip! Our first stop is Palmerston North (Liam’s hometown). Event #1 will be on Wednesday and is a lunchtime session at the Zero Waste Academy at Massey University. Check out our upcoming events to see when we will be near you!
Our final task upon leaving Wellington and embarking on our trip was finally to let go of the waste that we have produced (and stockpiled) over the last 2.5 years. A lot of this rubbish was waste that we acquired from other people’s life decisions rather than our own (for example, digging up plastic when preparing a veggie patch in our backyard…) It goes to show that even if you try really hard, there’s so much rubbish around us that it can be difficult to escape sometimes.
Anyway, we weighed the hoard today. The verdict? Between us, the total waste we have produced since the beginning of 2015 was *drumroll*
To put this into perspective, in the Wellington Region, the total amount of household rubbish sent to landfill each year amounts to 200kg per person (see the proposed Wellington Region Waste Management and Minimisation Plan 2017). Extrapolated out for 2 people over 2.5 years, that’s a literal tonne of rubbish… Granted, Wellington is one of the worst performing regions in the country (sending almost twice the amount of household rubbish to landfill per person than Christchurch, for example). However, what we really hope to emphasise through The Rubbish Trip is that our rather extreme reduction in household/kerbside waste stacks up well, regardless of which region you look at, yet it did not demand an equivalent extreme amount of effort to achieve. Indeed, our main take-home message is that, even if you don’t want to go ‘zero waste’, you can still drastically reduce the waste you produce, even with relatively small, non-disruptive changes to your lifestyle, and it will make a difference.
Plastic Free July is a pretty good place to start because it offers you a chance to give it a go, without the fear of going without everything you know and love for eternity. In the process, we are confident that once July is over, you may well continue producing much less plastic than before. This is because the secret behind waste reduction is really switching to new habits. The actual switch can be a little bit of a hassle (which is why having an excuse like Plastic Free July is a great impetus), but the habits themselves are often not more time-consuming. So, once you’ve gone to the effort of switching over and then gotten into the swing of things, you’re likely to find little reason to switch back to many plastic-producing habits at the end of July.
To help you along, we wanted to share with you our ‘Getting Ready for Plastic Free July Survival Guide’, which we prepared following an event we did at Aro Valley Community Council (so, a small part of the doc is Wellington Central-specific). Make the booklet reader go ‘fullscreen’ and it’s easier to browse.
One final thing: living zero waste is both broader and analytically distinct from going plastic free, but plastic free was how we started, and we think it’s as good a place as any to begin household waste reduction. So good luck! We hope to see you soon, somewhere in Aotearoa…