By Dee Archibald

Zero waste is the new black!

This month is Plastic free July so it’s time to start thinking about the things you can do in your life, to reduce plastic and the steps you can take towards repairing our planet (let’s face it, it’s a bit of a mess!) By 2040 it is hoped that New Zealand will be zero waste. It is hard to imagine in this day in time that in 20 or so years from now there won’t be a rubbish truck collecting in your street! Yes we have a long way to go, but we have to start somewhere!

How can you help?

With baby steps. Change doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a change of mindset and lifestyle. It’s easy to pop it in the “too hard basket” as the reality of where to begin can be overwhelming, but we live on a pretty cool planet and a little extra effort and change is worth it. You could start by changing 1 thing a month and working on that thing until you have it down pat and it becomes part of your new life.

Here are a few things I have done in the last few months to reduce my plastic consumption –

Reduce Plastic in your Household

  • Invest in some reusable shopping bags and say “no” to plastic bags. You can even keep spares in your car or handbag for those impromptu trips to the shops.
  • Invest in some reusable produce bags for the fruit and vegetable aisle.
  • Make an origami bag out of newspaper for your bins, to work as a liner and ditch plastic bin liners. It’s one less plastic bag going into landfill each time you empty your bin.
  • Recycle all your soft plastics, including plastic bags, bottles, newspapers and food packaging/wraps. Look out for these bins at supermarkets and The Warehouse. To learn more go to
  • Be mindful when shopping. Although we can’t stop companies and supermarkets from packaging in plastic (yet!), we can reduce the amount we are purchasing from them. Think about how each item is packaged. Is there a brand that uses more Eco friendly packaging? Do you even need that product at all? Can you buy the product in bulk? Things that are individually wrapped such as kid chippies can be bought in family sized bags and separated into smaller containers.
  • Buy a reusable keep cup and make a pact with yourself, don’t buy a coffee unless you have your keep cup with you or you’re dining in.
  • Slow down! All that takeaway packaging we are consuming is over the top. When buying food away from home take the packaging home with you to recycle if there are no recycling bins available. Or refuse! A lot of places will let you bring your own containers in now when you’re buying sushi etc. and always refuse straws!
  • Find a place to recycle your coffee capsules if you really must use them. Some schools and Nespresso are doing this now. There are incentives for schools to collect things like this, they also recycle Colgate products, yogurt pouches, Glad products and even old cellphones! If your kids are at school, see if you can get the school on board.
  • Buy your cosmetics in bar form. Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, moisturiser and face products are all available now and in many different formulations for all skin/hair types. I recommend NZ made Ethique Beauty. Ethique began in 2012, making natural beauty bars as an alternative to the 80 billion plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles thrown out globally each year. There are now over 40 products in the range. Plus just for Palmers customers, order any Ethique product online and get a 20% discount. Just use the code PALMERS at the checkout before October 31

Do it Yourself

  • Take a trip to a bulk bin store armed with your own jars and containers, to stock up on dry foods such as flour, nuts, cereals, even peanut butter!
  • Shop at and give unwanted clothes to charity shops. Although it seems tempting to buy clothing that is cheap (and there’s a lot of it around!), chances are they probably won’t last and they ultimately go into landfill.
  • Get crafty and make your own household cleaning products. Washing power, kitchen spray and dishwasher powder are just a few. There are heaps of recipes available online. These are natural (so good for the environment) and you can reuse the bottles and jars you put them in so no more plastic bottles!
  • Purchase or make some beeswax wraps and ditch cling film and sandwich bags for good! Learn how to make your own beeswax wraps here
  • Learn how to compost and/or run a worm farm. Your garden will love you for it! Find out how to make your own compost here or click here to learn how to start a worm farm

Educate Yourself and Your Family

  • Educate yourself and your family! I highly recommend a visit to the Waitakere Transfer Station but get in touch with your local station or council to see if there any educational programmes available for the community.
  • Join a Facebook group to get tips and advice from others on the zero waste journey. I can recommend “Zero Waste in NZ!”Although recycling is great it’s almost the last thing in the food chain. Use this simple idea to get your zero waste priorities straight. 5R’s and in this order. Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.

And the last thing to add to your ‘to do’ list is this;

-Be an Eco warrior,

-Talk about what you’re doing,

-Keep on talking,

-Keep the momentum flowing,


and Spread the word!