As business owners or individual consumers, we are all entitled to make our own choices based on factors that are important to us; the choices we make should be ethical and comfortable, but shouldn't cost the Earth, or be otherwise unaffordable. We believe that given a level playing field, most people will make decisions they know are ethical, so we like to encourage and educate people to take actions and make purchasing decisions that are healthier for themselves and the planet we call home. Wasting less also means that you are more efficient and usually financially better off.
Zero waste is an aspiration; the intention to continuously do better to reduce the amount of waste we create as a society and how many resources we send to landfill. The concept of waste is a human one - there is no waste in nature, and the balance of resources moves from one steady state to another where everything that has gone before is re-purposed and used again and again. Every individual in a system is both a producer and a consumer.
So if we're smart and design things right, why should there be waste created by our society or businesses? We like to think of Zero Waste as being about helping people to make those choices that are right for them, supporting good practices, advocating for changes in the system that will make everyone better off, and about taking responsibility ourselves to improve our own habits over time, because no one is perfect, right?
Most of us have come some way in our journey from simply throwing everything out to conscious recycling, composting vegetable waste and so on. But we all have a long way to go to truly minimise the mountain of waste we humans create every day.
If you don’t believe us, check out the pile of refuse that the Waitakere Transfer Station has to clear on a daily basis.
Sustain and Enable provides both consultancy and education services in this area as well as working towards creating a Community Resource Centre for Huapai-Kumeu.
Much of it is simply a matter of how we think, of genuinely considering what we do with ‘waste’ items before simply throwing them out.
Our waste services focus on three actions:-
What we want everyone to do before you throw something away, is stop and consider what else could be done with it. Could it be used by someone else? Could it be recycled, donated or repurposed?
Take organic waste, which still surprisingly accounts for as much as 50% of domestic waste. How much more could we compost?
Likewise in the building industry, we are starting to learn to dismantle or deconstruct old buildings rather than demolish them. Common building practices can be very wasteful and account for 50-60% of all waste sent to landfill, yet there is much that could be reused and repurposed if we took the time to do it.
Often products around our homes aren’t really waste at all, just no longer of use to our family. Sustain and Enable will assist with your ability to pass goods on through our initiatives such as our Toy and Tool libraries. We will also help link you up to suitable recycling initiatives already in place such as those established by Auckland Council and the Government as well as Product Stewardship schemes by companies such as Repco and Super Cheap Auto who take used oil back at all their stores.
Ultimately our planned Community Resource Centre will collect and distribute your unwanted materials to many of these recycling and repurposing services around the Auckland Region.
Right now, this website will provide a noticeboard carrying information about available goods, and companies or sites that take items back. If you have goods or resources that you wish to pass on or know about recycling alternatives available click here to send us the information to share with your community.
We also offer a sell-on-behalf-of service where we take a small commission from the sale of any goods you wish to find a new home for but don’t have time to dispose of them ethically yourself.
No matter how much we recycle, repurpose and re-use, there will always be some waste that needs managing.
Ways to reduce this problem include promoting better management of waste products at corporate level and encouraging industries to become much more ethical corporate citizens.
This includes product stewardship; advocating for the people who manufacture the goods to take care of these goods at their end of the life, for example, tyres, plastic bags, children’s car seats.
One way this can be done without the manufacturer being out of pocket, is by adding only a few dollars to the initial price and investing these funds for the life of the item with a third party. When it comes time to dismantle and recycle the item, the interest earned will pay for the cost of the work to return the components to useful materials or nature, even if the organisation who made the goods has gone out of business.
We can all promote this by supporting those companies who look after their ‘rubbish’ when we make purchasing decisions and encourage businesses to think about the way they package their goods and design them for easy dismantling at end of life.
If you have items that will end up in landfill that you would like to recycle or repurpose instead, please let us know by clicking here.
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