The biggest misconception about going waste-free is the cost. If you follow the waste hierarchy, you will save money in the long run. The waste hierarchy encourages people to prioritise reducing and reusing over recycling, recovering and disposing of.
In terms of how you do this in the home, you can do things like refill cleaning (dish wash, laundry etc) and pantry staples (oil, vinegar etc) at your local Bin Inn, Common Sense Organics, GoodFor, or other whole foods refillery. You can swap out body wash, shampoo and conditioner bottles with bar alternatives. There are heaps of wonderful, natural, NZ made bars out there. We love Underground Soapery, Global Soaps and Ethique. For the ladies, invest in a reusable menstrual cup and reusable pads or period pants. Just imagine how much you will save by not having to buy menstrual products every month.
When it is time for your grocery shop, try and do most of it at your local produce market. Not only is it cheaper, but you’re also directly supporting local producers. Be sure you take your reusable produce bags with you. If you’re a meat-eater, BYO container to your local butcher or deli. They’re usually pretty happy to fill up your container.
What can I recycle and what needs to go in the bin?
Plastic recycling varies from city to city. Most districts will take plastics labelled 1 and 2 (we have the means to recycle these in NZ) and others will take 5 as well (5 is usually shipped offshore). Very few, if any, councils will take 3,4,6-9 as these are reliant on overseas markets. There is very little demand for recycling these plastics overseas.
Wellington City Council and Kapiti Coast District Council accepts plastics 1,2 and 5. Hutt City, Upper Hutt, Carterton and Masterton accepts plastics 1 and 2, South Wairarapa accepts 1-7 (excluding 6 EPS).
Glass, cardboard, paper and aluminium recycling is fairly consistent across the Wellington Region. You can put these items in your recycling bin/bag so long as they are clean.
Wellington City Council asks that plastic and metal lids be removed from bottles and jars. Anything smaller than a yoghurt pottle will slip through the rollers at the refuse centre. You can save these items up and bring them to us at Sustainability Trust for recycling. We also take writing instruments, oral care packaging, razors and shavers, car seats, usable bikes, wool and e-waste.
Items that do not belong in your recycling:
- Meat trays
- Takeaway coffee cups
- Tetra packs (Soy Milk)
- Soft plastics: check to see if there is a collection point for soft plastic recycling near you.
- Receipts: cannot be recycled because of the chemicals they contain.
- Broken glass: this needs to be wrapped up safely and put in your landfill bin.
- Drinking glasses, window glass, or ornamental glass.
What are some sustainable brands to love?
We are so lucky to have so many incredible local sustainable brands in Wellington and around NZ.
Some of our favourite local brands are:
- Underground Soapery – 100% natural, low-waste beauty bars. They’re made in Stokes Valley, Lower Hutt.
- Solid Oral Care toothpaste and toothpaste tablets – Natural toothpaste with Fluoride. You can return the jars to them or bring them to us to be sterilised and reused. Made in Titahi Bay.
- Snaxpax food savers and protectors – say goodbye to plastic wrap forever. These reusable bowl covers are reusable, machine-washable and contain food-safe PUL lining. Made in Wellington
- Wa Collective – Plastic-free, medical-grade silicone, ethically made menstrual cups. Sourced by a Wellington-based social enterprise
- Little Yellow Bird – 100% certified organic cotton clothing with full transparency from farm to factory. Made in Wellington.
Article contributed by Sustainability Trust.