Our live lightly journey started when my family did a waste minimisation challenge as part of a course I was doing. We started with an audit and weighed and recorded all our waste for a week to see how we were doing. The results were sobering: 16.5kg of waste to landfill, 13kg being recycled and 4kg being composted.
On the one hand, we weren’t doing badly. We were composting some of our food scraps and doing ok with our recycling. But there was still so much room for improvement. After going through the results together, we came up with a plan: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse/Repurpose and Recycle, broadly in that order.
For ‘refuse’ we set shopping bans in places we were spending a lot of money. For the items we did still need, we tried to ‘reduce’ by borrowing from friends, buying second hand, or in bulk. We also started to use glass and reusables over plastic, including taking containers with us to the butcher. We ‘repurposed’ our food waste to make compost and put a worm farm together. For non-compostable food scraps, we set up a Bokashi system.
We became extra vigilant with our ‘recycling’ and also tried to reduce our on reliance on it. We brought a second-hand shredder on Trade Me to shred waste paper for the compost, and re-used our glass containers for bulk food purchases.
A month later, a second waste audit showed we’d reduced our weekly waste to landfill by a whopping 50 percent. It was surprising how easy it was. By doing a handful of really grass root actions, not only did we save money, we also created something out of nothing, e.g. ‘hello free compost’.
If every household in Auckland could try one or two of these ideas, imagine how much waste we could divert.