Kate Meads, best known as cloth-nappy expert The Nappy Lady, takes her mission for creating a sustainable earth one step further with a challenge for us all to reduce our waste.
For over ten years I have been running workshops the length of New Zealand encouraging new families to opt for cloth nappies. This is a passion that grew after the birth of my son. Virtually overnight my husband and I went from being a couple who put out one small bag of rubbish each week, to a family of three with a giant wheelie bin full of trash. As I looked down my street one day I saw dozens of other over-flowing wheelie bins lined up and I had a light-bulb moment.
I realised that we’re kidding ourselves if we treat our rubbish as out of sight, out of mind. The rubbish trucks collect our waste every week, and that of hundreds of thousands of other households, then deliver it all to a landfill. It’s not sorted and nothing is recycled. What you put in the bag, ends up in the hole.
It is up to each household to make a change for the better to minimize the rubbish which will spend the rest of its days (and in some cases, that may be hundreds of years), buried inside a mummified tomb.
So, a year or so ago, I launched waste-free parenting courses. My intention is to open people's eyes to the needless packaging being used on everything from muesli bars to household appliances.
Just say no
Recently we purchased a new washing machine. I asked the shop to take away the packaging once it was delivered. We just wanted the washing machine and all the polystyrene packaging around the appliance would have filled our rubbish bin up for the week. It was the first time I realised that I didn’t have to take care of the waste that was a result of someone else’s packaging choice.
In fact, I suggested they could possibly recycle the packaging as it would fit another machine and prevent them from creating more unnecessary waste just from protective packaging.
One day I would like to do an ‘unpack’ at the supermarket and leave all of the packaging there because I only want the product on the inside. If I can’t recycle the packaging then I don’t really want to buy the product, but this is something we have very little control of unless we choose not to go shopping at all.