19 Jan 2020

'Stop and think': Tips to go waste-free in 2020

11:55 am on 19 January 2020

Coming out of the holiday season, there'll be lots of by-products like packaging, wrapping paper, and leftovers.

Rosemary Nash, chair of Sustainable Papakura, with Paula Moffatt and Christine Kean, at the market.

Sustainable Papakura chair Rosemary Nash with Paula Moffatt and Christine Kean at the market. Photo: RNZ / Liu Chen

While the easy solution might be "chuck them in the bin", Rosemary Nash is one striving for a waste-free lifestyle.

She chairs the South Auckland-based environmental group Sustainable Papakura, which runs educational workshops, provides free cloth shopping bags, and organises a weekend market that's been running for about seven years.

At the market, there are produce and shopping bags made from old fabric, cloth gift bags, beeswax wraps and more.

Nash said some products were so popular that they were sold out before the holiday season had started.

"Out of some of the donated fabric, we've made quite large bags with three pockets in them. They have a handle and you can hang it over your headrest in your car, and you use it to keep your shopping bags and your produce bags in."

She often took a compost bin on a trip, she said, and put all the food waste in. She also makes her own crackers and sandwiches and uses reusable containers.

"With anything to do with minimising your waste, the first thing is to think - stop and think," she said.

"Preparation is really good. What are the things you do when you go on holiday that you suddenly find yourself creating waste that maybe you wouldn't do it at home because you've changed some of your habits."

Sue Ollerton, sustainable living skills facilitator at Sustainable Papakura, with 7-year-old Aariya how to make Christmas decorations with rags and other waste that would other wise end up in landfill.

Sue Ollerton with Aariya. Photo: RNZ / Liu Chen

Sue Ollerton, also from Sustainable Papakura, said it was important for people to deal with their waste properly.

"Maybe check out the local supermarket if they're doing the soft plastic collection points so you can take your soft plastics there. Look at the local council websites to see whether they get any recycling areas whereabouts you are."

Love Food Hate Waste project manager Jenny Marshall said New Zealand threw away $1 billion worth of food every year.

She said people should plan ahead for leftovers when food waste was more likely, especially during the holidays.

"I always stock up on pizza bases or wraps and even some eggs, so we can kind of wrap up our ham and pineapple pizza with leftover ham or make some turkey and cranberry wraps. So having those really good essentials on hand means you can really make the most of those leftovers."

Marshall said lots of food could be frozen, including wine, cheese, milk, rice, pasta and hummus.

Apart from saving waste, she said there was a bigger reason to save food.

"When we throw food away, we put it in our rubbish bin. It goes to the landfill. It breaks down. It rots and it generates methane, which is a climate change gas. When we think about climate change ... one of the key things that we can do to reduce that impact is to not waste food."

Marshall said people should also be mindful of food safety and not leave their food in the sun for too long.

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