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Te Ipukarea Society : ‘Rent A Plate’ back on wheels

Saturday 29 April 2023 | Written by Te Ipukarea Society | Published in Environment, National


Te Ipukarea Society : ‘Rent A Plate’ back on wheels
Reducing packaging waste at market sites through the Rent A Plate portable dishwashing fundraising initiative. TIS/230428103/230428104

With tourism numbers back on the rise, there are now innovative opportunities to “build back better”. Opportunities that not only create positive visitor experiences but experiences where visitors can participate in solutions that “Protect our Little Paradise” whilst on holiday.

One concept Te Ipukarea Society has been wanting to revitilise is the “Rent A Plate” system utilised at popular food vendor sites frequented by hungry tourists and local alike. What was once a regular and popular service initiated by Te Uki Ou Primary School four years ago, involved an active plate and utensil washing station at the Muri Night market. The fundraising initiative allowed foodies the option of renting a plate for a gold coin donation to use at their chosen food vendor. When finished, plates were then returned back to the washing station site where young students and attentive parents were on hand to help wash and dry plates which were then reused.

The initiative was very popular amongst visiting guests willing to support a good cause but also going that step further by reducing their overall waste produced whilst on holiday. Covid however put a stall on the Rent A Plate initiative, up until now.

In hopes of revitilising the “reuse” initiative that supports zero waste cultures, the Solid Waste Management Committee through Te Ipukarea Society officially brought Rent A Plate back to life and now on wheels! The new portable washing station, designed by Mary Mcdonald, is now fully self-contained with power and running water. The station holds two 50 litre containers filled with water that pumps to the stainless steel washing area. Drying racks are installed on top of the basin to maximise drying space. All wastewater is funneled out to a bucket which is put back into the surrounding vegetation.

Because the Rent a Plate washing station is portable, it can be utilised at all popular market sites as well as one day festival events, reducing the overall packaging waste created by food vendors. This also has economic benefits for market sites and vendors who then have lower costs associated with the food containers and nil curb side collection costs for the market operator.

The long-term goal of the Rent A Plate portable washing station is for it to be utilised by community groups as another innovative fundraising option to consider. Getting community groups involved also becomes an educational experience for the community, reminding them about our waste issues and those simple actions to reduce waste through “reusing” practices.

The Te Ipukarea Society team has been trialing the new Rent A Plate washing station at Muri Night Market this past week. Visitors were pleased to see the initiative up and running and were more than happy to support the good cause. The challenge is for the Rent A Plate trailer to make enough money to cover the costs of renting the site at the market, and still leave enough money in the kitty to support the charitable organisation running the trailer on that night.

Philipa and Gary from New Zealand commended the initiative pointing out that: “It’s got to be good for the environment. You have such a beautiful wee island that everyone should be on board, it’s so easy to get involved too.”

Jody Bennett from New Zealand also supported the initiative: “We used this service last night at the Muri Night Market. What an awesome initiative and the team were so friendly, showing my son what to do with our big pile of plates.”

Meitaki Maata to major sponsors GEF SGP for supporting the revitilisation of the portable washing unit. CITC who supplied the majority of new reusable plates, bowls, and cutlery of various sizes, and Vonnias and Mareko for also supporting the community led waste-free initiative.

If your community group is interested in trialing the Rent A Plate fundraiser, give Te Ipukarea Society a call on 21144