Turning waste into business on Mauke

Saturday 3 April 2021 | Written by Te Ipukarea Society | Published in Opinion

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Turning waste into business on Mauke
Reusable feminine hygiene awareness raising programme ‘Maine Mura’ makes its way to Mauke. TIS/21040128

The end of life of the products we buy, the waste and rubbish, in the pa enua has become an increasing problem. End of pipeline management practices can no longer be the number one solution to waste.

The lack of adequate waste management facilities, lack of awareness on waste and its negative environmental impacts and the high costs associated with shipping waste off each island are significant issues. In addition, lifestyle changes over the past 30 years have only contributed to increased volume and composition of waste entering each island.

To help alleviate some of the waste pressures being felt by some of these islands, Te Ipukarea Society with funding from the Global Environment Fund Small Grant Programme (GEF/SGP) are raising awareness  on both Mangaia and Mauke to encourage a change in people’s behaviours and attitudes towards waste.

Waste has become an expensive commodity for island councils and it also takes up valuable space. One cost effective way of reducing island waste is through the values and actions of people.

Te Ipukarea Society staff, along with TIS member the creator of Circlecooks – upcycled art, Sabine Janneck, visited Mauke to talk waste, and especially on what individuals can do to be a part of the solution. Community and school discussions were on zero waste lifestyles that are all about waste minimisation and prevention.

There was a particular focus on issues surrounding plastics, including how difficult it is to recycle. Preventing this particular type of waste from entering the waste stream is key.

Being a conscious consumer is one way of achieving waste prevention. For example, community members are encouraged to buy aluminium canned drinks or glass bottles as opposed to plastic products. Aluminium cans have some value in their metal, and glass can be crushed and reused for concrete slabs and also used to fill roads, whereas plastics currently have limited reusing possibilities.

Biodegradable products from containers to cups and utensil should also be made more available to the pa enua for communities to have an alternative greener option. Refusing waste in the form of packaging right from the start is one of the most effective ways of reducing waste from entering the waste stream.

Sabine was also able to share her waste weaving skills with the people of Mauke by demonstrating an innovative way of REUSING waste and the potential of turning it into a business opportunity. It didn’t take long for the young school girls, aunties and mamas to pick up the new skill and create new products almost as fast as Sabine.

The young girls from Apii Mauke also decided to form a new business group called ‘The Reusable Team’. The girls look to work together in creating new products made of waste thanks to Circlecooks – upcycled art training programme.

Further awareness raising in women’s health on reusable feminine hygiene products such as reusable pads and moon cups was also delivered to Apii Mauke and the wider community. As in Mangaia, the Maine Mura programme was well received by Mauke with all of the girls at Apii Mauke being interested in trying either a reusable pad or moon cup.

Meitaki ranuinui to our donors for the Mangaia and Mauke behavioural change project on waste, GEF SGP, and to the UN Women for funding Maine Mura.

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