Te Ipukarea Society: Talking trash with Plastic Free July

Sunday July 05, 2020 Written by Kate McKessar , Te Ipukarea Society Published in Environment
Students from Papaaroa school at the glass depot at the landfill. 20070247 Students from Papaaroa school at the glass depot at the landfill. 20070247

OPINION: It is easy to feel jaded fighting plastic pollution.

Students at Tereora College recently told us that the plastic problem felt too big and overwhelming. 

On Thursday this week we took students from Papaaroa school to the landfill to see for themselves the true extent of the problem.  Again the question came, where do you start? 

The beauty of the Plastic Free July campaign is that small individual steps can be part of a collection solution.  It is essentially a challenge to take on whatever you can manage. 

It might be to give up one single use plastic item, like those pesky straws, plastic shopping bags or clingwrap. 

Perhaps you might switch your shampoo to the kind that comes in a solid bar or just get better at remembering your reusable water bottle. 

Others may go the whole hog and go completely zero waste for July. Whatever you choose to give up is entirely up to you and every little bit counts.

This month we intend to showcase local individuals, businesses or schools who inspire us with their incredible waste busting work to keep us motivated to do the mahi we do. 

We are taking this action because these are the people who help us to carry on, when we might feel like giving up!

First off the rank is musician Jim Perkins. Jim popped his head into our office at TIS about a month ago and offered to volunteer.  

Jim’s enthusiasm and creative skills inspired us to give the Plastic Free July campaign a big push by producing an advert for Plastic Free July.  

With the valuable assistance of volunteers Mo Newport from Motone Productions and Tokerau Jim, the advert is now showing on the telly and is also on our You Tube channel – Cook Islands Conservation. 

Getting involved in this campaign has inspired Jim to look at his family’s own plastic consumption and make some changes.  Jim says he is now more mindful of only buying items that can be reused. 

Three weeks ago, his bin was full of disposable coffee cups and waste from school lunches like yoghurt squeezies and clingwrap. Now the bin is only a quarter of what it was.  

Jim also takes his containers to refilleries like Paradise Supplies or the Pak Man Store for refills of their products, including hand soap and laundry detergent.   

Paper and food waste are composted and Jim’s garden means they eat home-grown produce, which doesn’t come prewrapped!

Another shout-out goes to Reefside café in Avarua who have always walked the talk and were quick to get involved in Plastic Free July. 

Reefside offer a 50 cent discount on all hot and cold beverages if you bring your own reusable cup.  They are also offering recycled jars for cold drinks.  So if you forget your reusable cup, just grab a jar!

When you think about it, plastic is designed to last forever but is only used for a minute. You might spend a short time enjoying your smoothie, then toss the plastic cup and straw.

Your vegetables come home in a plastic bag which is then binned not long after. The list goes on.

If you want some extra ideas on how to cut back your waste for July and beyond (whether plastic or otherwise), come and chat to us at Te Ipukarea Society and check out www.plasticfreejuly.org.

What are your Plastic Free July pledges?

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