The Rubbish Trip sets off around Aotearoa/New Zealand from the beginning of Plastic Free July 2017! We’ve decided to do our first ever post on the kaupapa that lies behind both our crowdfund campaign and our call for support through the sharing economy.
We were motivated to launch The Rubbish Trip by our conviction that, once presented with a few simple tips and tricks, everyone can do something to minimise their waste footprint, even if going zero waste is not their goal. We have experienced firsthand that our presentations and workshops do inspire others to make small lifestyle changes that mean they throw less away. Furthermore, the workshops can create a sense of solidarity and shared motivation within the audience to work together to reduce waste at the community level. We feel that The Rubbish Trip has the potential to create real difference in New Zealand, from an environmental perspective, but also for social cohesion – encouraging communities to reconnect and shift focus back to important things in life (i.e. people and the planet, not stuff!)
The interrelationship between environmental and social justice issues is real, but can be skirted over or under-explored if groups and organisations target issues in isolation. On first blush, zero waste may seem like an environmental movement. However, it has profound social dimensions too. We are both strongly influenced by principles of social justice, and the evidence that societies riven by inequality are less resilient and cohesive, and consequently, more likely to be wastefully consumerist (Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why Equality is better for Everyone, London: Penguin, 2010, Ch. 15). In our workshops and presentations we are mindful to avoid reproducing tendencies to talk to only ‘one’ social group. Instead, we strive to provide tips and advice that cut across socio-economic circumstances. We genuinely believe that living a less wasteful life is not only for those with larger financial resources, nor should it be! In fact, living zero waste is a really great way of saving money and growing self-sufficiency. For some people, it could be one means of making life slightly more affordable. Indeed, many people who are financially struggling are already highly resourceful and have a lot of knowledge to share. So, the last thing we want is to create barriers to people coming through the door in the first place.
With this in mind, keeping our presentations and workshops as accessible as possible is extremely important to us. We are absolutely committed to always offering our speaking engagements for FREE. However, this does not change the fact that our talks do entail costs for us – from providing ingredients for demonstrations, to our daily food and transport costs, to sharing zero waste kai with attendees. This last point is especially important; we love sharing homemade food at our presentations, as it shows what is possible with a zero waste lifestyle and because food provides the kind of welcoming atmosphere that enables sharing, learning, and free and frank conversation.
And so, we have set up a crowdfund (closing on 26 June) to help us sustain this trip and spread the message about how New Zealanders can reduce their household rubbish. We have done the calculations and reckon we can cover the costs of this project, and our own daily needs, with a budget of roughly $10 each a day. For the both of us, that’s $140-150 a week. Our crowdfunding target is based on this calculation for a time period of 6 months. If we exceed this target, 50% of the extra funds will go straight to Para Kore. The remaining 50% will go towards extending our trip beyond 6 months. We have chosen to tautoko Para Kore for many reasons: partly because we have personally experienced how amazing they are; partly because their mātauranga māori approach is so effective for talking about zero waste; and partly because they have adopted a nationwide, community-based approach to zero waste, which has already proved apt for spreading the zero waste kaupapa and practice. If you share our concern about the global waste problem and ensuring access to real and practical solutions, please consider chipping in to help The Rubbish Trip and Para Kore continue our respective mahi (if you are financially in a position to do so).
The Rubbish Trip will run off a low daily budget because we have faith in the sharing, collaborative economy, which largely operates free from money and financial transactions. For example, we have been quite inspired by the life of Heidemarie Schwermer, as showcased in the film Living Without Money. Throughout our own lives we have been truly blessed to experience the generosity of others, whether through conscientious neighbours, the helping hands of friends and family, Couchsurfing, or unexpected kindness from strangers. In our experience, being open to the spirit of sharing and exchange can bring out the best in others, and create true moments of empathy and connection (not to mention learning!)
Implementing these principles in The Rubbish Trip was a natural fit. Indeed, sharing skills and resources across individuals within communities is a key component in waste reduction. Think about it; if we just shared stuff more, we wouldn’t all need to consume so much. Car-pooling, tool banks, libraries, timebanks, Neighbourly, family and friend networks, and Couchsurfing – these are all examples of the sharing economy that help to reduce wasteful over-duplication of resources and potentially expand access to higher quality goods and services for larger groups of people. Of course, implementing this on a big scale requires connected and trusting communities, which brings us back again to zero waste’s social dimension…
In the meantime, we endeavour to practice what we preach! While us two no-waste nomads will be reliant on others for accommodation in order to sustain the trip, we will gladly return the favour through our zero waste workshops and presentations, but also with music, help in gardens or housework, cooking, or spreading our hosts’ stories through our podcast!
So, if you’d like to support The Rubbish Trip, do so in a way that most suits you – it may be money to our crowdfund, or it might be a couch for the night, helping us to organise an event, or any number of possible things. Whatever it may be, we deeply appreciate it and feel confident that it will go towards the larger kaupapa of shifting New Zealand towards being a low-waste (or even no-waste!) country.