Alanna Smith: Plastic Free July: lessons we learnt

Saturday August 01, 2020 Written by Alanna Smith , Te Ipukarea Society Published in Environment
Lunchbox Legend stickers will be given to children who bring lunches without single use plastics. 20073102 Lunchbox Legend stickers will be given to children who bring lunches without single use plastics. 20073102

Cutting out plastics from our lives can seem rather daunting, particularly for those who rely on plastic for its durable, easy throw away convenience.

But making the switch away from plastics doesn’t have to be complicated.  It can be easily achieved through a few simple plastic swap options that can be made in your day to day lives that can make a world of a difference. These simple swaps include:

* Replacing plastic bottles with cans or glass-based products. Plastic waste is not currently being sent offshore for recycling, so plastic is being stored up at our landfill, losing its value and deteriorating with time.

Tin and aluminium cans do have some value so they can be sent to New Zealand for recycling or used locally. The industrial glass crusher at the landfill is also crushing up to 2 cubic metres of glass per day. All crushed glass could then be reused for construction purposes.

* Remember your reusable bags, coffee cups and food containers when out and about.

* Swap out margarine which typically comes in plastic containers for butter wrapped in paper.

* Make plunger coffee instead of using coffee PODs.

* Make the switch from single use synthetic dish cloths to cloths made from recycled cotton clothing.

* Use a plate or tea towel to cover food instead of clingwrap.

* Glitter is litter! Consider swapping out commercial glitter made from plastic for glitter made from leaves and a hole punch.

* Buy in bulk and refill your bottles – for shampoo, conditioner and cleaning products.

A recent schools competition with the support of the Ministry of Education’s Arts department challenged students to turn plastic waste into repurposed goods.

Winners from the competition included: The Go Programme years 9/10 who created a scarecrow, Charles Trevor Woonton (St Joseph Primary) who made a dinosaur and a toothbrush holder, Analena McNabb (St Joseph Primary) with a piggy bank, Taiki George (Tereora) who made a fruit picker, Ari George and Eden Harman (Te Uki Ou) each made fun fairy houses, and Georgia Harman (Te Uki Ou) with a neat pencil holder.  

Though the month of July has come to an end, the plastic battle continues with Te Ipukarea Society and supporters through upcoming campaigns such as ‘Lunch Box Legends’.

Lunch Box Legend stickers can be received with your $5 LBV lunches if you bring your own lunchbox (at both Muri and Constitution Park). All participating schools will also soon have stickers for students who bring lunch without any single use plastics.

Additionally, Te Ipukarea Society looks to work closely in area of reducing feminine hygiene waste by promoting reusable feminine hygiene products such as reusable pads and moon cups.

The project called Maine Mura aims to work closely with local high schools to raise awareness around the environmental benefits and cost saving associated with these alternative products. Watch this space.

Meitaki Maata to all our sponsors and supporters over the Plastic Free July campaign – Ministry of Education, Infrastructure Cook Islands, Prime Foods, CITC, Ariki Adventures, Bergman and Sons, Tokerau Jim, Motone Productions, Jim Perkins Music.

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