Keep It Green
New Zealand is famous for its clean, green, beautiful image and we're passionate about keeping it that way! When people think about coming to New Zealand, the draw cards are our clean air, beautiful forests and crystal clear waters, and our amazing unique culture.
Saving the earth can seem like such a daunting project - surely one person can't help? The truth is that we can ALL help, and we are ALL responsible. But don't worry, there are so many ways you can choose to make a difference. Whether your method of helping to reduce your carbon footprint is by donating money to charities and conservation projects, by reducing your waste, or by growing your own produce, all big things started small!
We've put together a list of all the ways we've thought of that can help keep New Zealand clean and green. If you've got a conservation story, or thoughts on ways to help save the environment or tips for recycling or reducing our waste - get involved by telling us on Facebook or you can send us an email. We'd love to hear and share your stories!
One way to help save the environment is by recycling as much of your rubbish as you can. Keep an eye out for the Recycling logo to help you learn what can be recycled and where to put it.
In New Zealand, most cities, towns and villages have council run rubbish and recycling collection. Each council has its own supported items that can be recycled, and its important that you understand what you can put in your council recycling bin.
Perhaps the first thing to understand with recycling, is that the companies that recycle our rubbish are businesses, if they don't make money from the process, they can't run. So its in the best interest of our environment that we help them do their job. One of the biggest things that contaminates your recycling is throwing in your unwashed takeaway coffee cup - in fact you can't put these in at all. The council end up with whole truck loads of recycling that become contaminated. So try and make sure your recycling is clean.
Most councils will recycle the following objects:
- Hard Plastic #1-7 (no lids)
- Paper and Cardboard
- Aluminium Cans, Metal Tins (no lids)
Some councils may take plastic bags, but your soft plastics need to go in the Soft Plastic Recycling Bins that are at some Countdown's, Warehouses and New Worlds.
If you have a broken appliance, many companies will take back their broken goods and recycle them themselves. You could contact the manufacturer and ask them.
Keep an eye out for the Love NZ recycling bins located in public places, and recycle your rubbish on the go.
2. Reduce Waste
We've all seen the pictures of rubbish choking our rivers, animals that have died from ingesting rubbish in the ocean, birds covered in tar, the giant landfills that mar the land, and the thousands of tons of food that gets wasted daily throughout New Zealand. The truth is, we are a generation of "use it once and throw it away". It's too expensive to fix stuff, so we throw away our broken appliances and buy new ones. We buy more food than we need and it goes to waste.
Some ways to reduce waste include:
- Only buy what you need. If you are throwing old fruit and stale bread in the bin, buy less food. Don't buy accessories and household items if you are not going to use them.
- Replace single use items such as single use straws with other alternatives that can be used many times or are biodegradable.
- Buy reusable fruit and vege sacks to replace the single use plastic or paper bags.
- Use less pesticides and insecticides.
- Take your travel mug for your takeaway coffee.
- Decline unwanted receipts.
- Don't print paperwork or photos that you don't need. Use digital formats instead.
- Unsubscribe from printed catelogues. Subscribe to email newsletters instead.
- Don't buy or chew chewing gum.
- Don't buy water in plastic bottles. Buy a steel or otherwise reusable water bottle. You'll save money, help the environment and they're healthier.
- Choose to buy products that have less packaging. For example, buy your apples in your reusable fruit sack. Not the ones that come prechopped and packaged in individual little bags.
- Take your own takeaway containers.
- Pack rubbish-free lunches. If possible use reusable containers to separate your food items.
- Buy items in larger bulk amounts to reduce packaging.
- Reduce energy consumption by turning off unused appliances.
- Reduce energy consumption by hanging your washing out to dry whenever possible rather than using your dryer.
- Reduce energy consumption by washing your clothes in cold water.
- Catch and store rainwater for use watering your plants, or feeding your chooks.
- Don't burn treated wood or coal.
Another way to make a difference is to replace things that aren't biodegrable, are harmful, or are single use with a better option. Here are some things you can try replacing:
- Replace gift wrapping with items you have lying around. We received a gift wrapped in wallpaper the other day. You could also use a scarf or a cloth that they can then also use.
- Use household cleaners that don't contain harmful chemicals.
- Shop local in your farmers markets and local food stalls. The food is often healthier with less chemicals, and it took a lot less packaging, processing and overall energy to get to you.
- Return containers and cartons to the farmers at the markets and food stalls.
- Use public transportation, walk or bike instead of using your car.
- If you can, buy an electric car to replace your petrol or diesel car.
- Replace your old fire with a council-approved low-emmissions fire or heating appliance.
4. Get Involved
There are lots of ways you can get involved with helping to keen New Zealand green.
- Plant a tree or native plants. This is a really great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
- Grow your own food. There are lots of plants that are easy to grow and thrive even in small garden spaces. If you have nowhere to put a vege garden, plant in planters on your deck or pots by your door.
- Pick up rubbish whenever you see it. Recycle it if you can, but don't feel bad for just putting it in the bin.
- Donate to charities and conservation efforts.
- Volunteer to help conservation efforts.
- Talk about it - with everyone. Share it on social media. Give feedback on websites and chat on forums.
- Educate your kids. Get them involved with picking up rubbish at their schools, recycling their rubbish and composting their food waste.
- Help keep the air clean by growing plants such as Aloe Vera to help clear bacteria and harmful toxins in the air.
- Buy organic or ethically produced clothing, food and other items.
- Compost your food items. Food items decompose in council green waste and produce methane gas, but when they rot naturally in a compost garden they don't. Plus then you can use your rich rotted compost to fertilise your plants and gardens.
- Learn how you can effect change in your business or workplace with sustainable choices
5. Love More
Honestly, fall in love with New Zealand, with nature, with the earth. Take a walk on one of our many beautiful ambling tracks beside lakes and rivers, through forests and over mountains. Feel the cool breeze, the warm sun and taste the fresh clean air.
If you fall in love with Mother Earth, you will want to help save her! It's much easier to be active and get involved if you are passionate about it, about making a difference.
Remember, all big things started small, so making small changes today can help us all work towards a brighter, cleaner future!
Lets Keep New Zealand Green!