Reduce? Reuse? Recycle? There’s a  lot of things to consider when you’re trying to work out which of the eco, recycled, recyclable, reclaimed or ‘planet-friendly’ options is the better one. A good place to start is the waste hierarchy – a classification of waste management options in order of their environmental impact. The waste hierarchy has taken various forms, but the basic concept remains the cornerstone of most waste minimisation strategies. A familiar example is reduce, reuse, recycle.

waste hierarchyThe aim of the waste hierarchy is to extract the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste.

This version has been developed for the Wellington Region Strategy for Waste Minimisation education programmes, communications and community development (currently being drafted).

When thinking about how to reduce your rubbish, you may want to start with a waste audit. This will give you an idea of what you are throwing out and thus the best options for diverting them from landfill. Directions can be found here.

Around 40% of household waste going to landfill is kitchen waste. Composting, worm-farms and ‘effective microorganisms’ (e.g. bokashi, a variety of yeast) are all good ways of turning this waste into a resource:

  • Council’s Green Gardener will be able to support you with setting up these systems. We also have a ‘Nutrient Recycling’ booklet that can be downloaded off the Council website. For the booklet and contact details, click here.
  • Create Your Own Eden covers three elements of composting: traditional composting using a heap or bin; vermiculture or worm farming; and bokashi.
  • You can see what books the library holds by searching their online catalogue or taking a look at their Sustainable Living book list.

Find out everything you need to know about rubbish and recycling services in Kāpiti, get some ideas for reducing your daily waste, and have a look at the laws and strategies that exist for waste on the Council’s website.

If you have a small quantity of household hazardous waste (1 kg or 1 litre per person) you can drop it off at Otaihanga Transfer Station for a fee of $ 35. Quantities over 1 kg/litre must be referred to a specialist collector (see the hazardous waste collector section of the Yellow Pages). Examples of household hazardous waste include cleaning solutions, pesticides, pool chemicals, antifreeze, or used batteries. Waste oil can be disposed of at the Otaihanga and Ōtaki transfer stations at a charge of .50c per litre. Paint can be disposed of at the Otaihanga or Ōtaki transfer station free of charge

If you have empty, triple-rinsed agrichemical containers, they can be dropped off at the Ōtaki Transfer Station on the first Friday of the month between 10 am and 2 pm. This collection is run by Agrecovery and is only available for chemicals produced by an Agrecovery participant. For more information refer to the Agrecovery website.

Council’s Waste Reduction Fund for Community Groups has grants available for groups of five or more households who want to undertake projects that will reduce waste. Applications for 2013 open on 1 August. More information here.

A source of good ideas for reducing your rubbish is www.Rubbishfree.co.nz. In 2008 Waveney Warth & Matthew Luxon decided to try and avoid contributing to the growing rubbish problem by setting themselves a challenge of living for a year without sending anything to landfill. The average Kiwi couple sends 1.5 tons of rubbish to landfill every year – they sent 2kg! They have learnt a lot about living a rubbish free lifestyle and have set up a website to pool knowledge.

There are some interesting websites that look at reusing and reducing waste, including:

The Ministry for the Environment has some more technical resources on resource efficiency issues: waste, sustainability and sustainable industry. These include national strategies, codes of practice, issue papers and data. This is also a good place to look for information on hazardous waste disposal and special wastes:

Disposable versus reusable nappies are a topic of much debate. Zerowaste New Zealand Trust offer a summary of the issues, or you can find an update of a report by the United Kingdom Environmental Protection Agency here. The report concludes that reusable nappies can be more environmentally friendly than disposable ones, but it’s how you wash and dry your reusable nappies that make the difference.

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view.

The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns.

Packaging is an obvious source of rubbish in most homes – the plastic, paper and cardboard that transport goods into our home then go straight into the rubbish or recycling. Reusable grocery bags are a good way of reducing the number of plastic bags that we use, as are cloth bags for fruit, vegetables and dried goods. These are widely available, or you can make your own with one of the 50+ patterns from Tipnut.

What can you do with stuff that’s too good to throw away? Or you need something, but want to try avoiding buying new?

  • Sustainability.govt.nz have some suggestions for secondhand goods.
  • Otaihanga Resource Recovery Facility has a shop where you can drop household goods for resale (note that they don’t take electrical goods). Addresses and opening hours can be found here.
  • Waikanae  Kapiti Freecycle and Wellington Re-Cycle are both open to all who want to “recycle” that special something rather than throw it away. Whether it’s a chair, a fax machine, piano or an old door, feel free to post it. Or maybe you’re looking to acquire something yourself!
  • Paekakariki and Raumati South both have ‘Trader’ pages on Facebook where members of their community can offer or seek resources, skills and information. This is also a fantastic way to build community as people share information, help each other out, get to know each other and find out more about the community they live in. Get in touch if you want to talk to Flo, who set up Paekakariki and is supporting RS for a while, about the logistics of doing this in your area (sustainable.communities@kapiticoast.govt.nz).

Some downloadable documentaries relating to waste can found at Top Documentaries:

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