Since 2011, the Ashburton District Council has been working towards its vision of 'zero waste'. As a community, we have made good progress on improving our waste practices, but there is always more we can do.
In September 2017, we introduced a wheelie bin and crate kerbside collection service, which replaced the bag and crate system. One of the biggest goals for this service was to encourage people to recycle more household items and reduce the amount of rubbish ending up in landfill.
This is a great step towards creating a more sustainable district for ourselves and the generations to come after us.
Here are some more ways that you can help to improve our waste practices.
Reduce product packaging
The waste management and minimisation services that Council provides are almost always designed to deal with the waste that everyone in the community has created. We do our best to try and return as much of this material back into the system to be used again and again, as opposed to ending up in landfill. However,
. These are some ways you can minimise package waste.
- Swap out highly processed food products for less processed products such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Often, fresh food is not presented in as much packaging when you buy it.
- Opt for cooking your meals when you can, rather than buying takeaways. Takeaway meals, while convenient, are often contained in a lot of unnecessary packaging.
- Choose raw ingredients to prepare your meals rather than buying prepacked products. Not only can this help you save money, but it also reduces packaging. For example, use a bulk bag of rice instead of individually packed heat and eat boiled rice meals.
- If you're buying electronics or household appliances, ask if the retailer will take back and recycle your old electronics and appliances for you. Some do.
- Don't be shy to tell your retailer or the manufacturer of a product you like that you expect their packaging to be recyclable. Companies that make and sell you products are always looking at ways to make us want to buy their product. If their customers expect more sustainable packaging, that's something they would be wise to investigate.
Minimise food waste
Each year, Kiwis send 122,547 tonnes of food to landfill, all of which could have been eaten. That's the equivalent of each household throwing out the weight of eight sacks of potatoes every year. Reducing your food waste is not only good for the environment, but it can also save you money. Follow these tips to cut back on your food waste:
- Write a shopping list before you go to the supermarket so that you only buy what you need.
- Store fresh food correctly so that it lasts longer. For example, did you know you should freeze your bread to stop it going mouldy and only lift out as much as you need at a time; or that you should keep bananas away from other fruit because other fruits can cause the bananas to ripen faster?
- Don't let your leftovers go to waste - they can be stored in the freezer for up to two months.
- Get creative and turn your leftovers or over-ripe fruit into delicious meals. There are some great recipes listed on the Love Food Hate Waste website.
- Get the most from your fresh food by using the parts that usually get thrown out, such as the skins, bones, peels or stalks.
Turn your kitchen scraps and garden waste into compost and keep this waste from ending up in landfill. There are many different types of home composting systems that you can use. Two of these systems are available for purchase from the re-use shop at the Ashburton Resource Recovery Park. These are:
- Hungry Bin Worm Farms - these are great for small households that produce mainly food scraps
- Zing Bokashi Bins - ideal for food scraps that are not suitable for standard compost mixes, including cooked meat, fish and leftovers. This method creates a compost product in just two to four weeks and can be stored inside due to its neutral odour.
Use your garden waste
Garden waste includes grass clippings, branches, weeds and plants. Almost all garden waste can be composted (see above), but there are also other ways you can use it:
- Lawn clippings can be mulched and used around trees and plants to supress weeds, retain moisture and give them the nourishment they need. Even grass that has been chemically sprayed can be used this way.
- Create your own organic garden spray by placing lawn clippings in a barrel and filling with water. One part lawn mix and 10 parts water should do the trick.
- Larger branches can be used as firewood. If you don't have a fireplace, give the wood to a neighbour or friend who does.
Repair or rehome old appliances and furniture
If you have household goods or furniture that you no longer want, try and keep it from going to landfill. You could:
- Take it to the Resource Recovery Park reuse shop.
- Contact a charity and ask if they would accept old furniture or household appliances.
- Get your broken appliance repaired or sell it to a second-hand agent who can repair and on-sell it.
- Consider giving your old appliance or furniture to a friend or neighbour.