Choosing a plastic-free life

 By Mary Searle Bell

Plastic Free July sets us the challenge of cutting the plastic from our life. The goal is to dramatically reduce plastic use around the world, creating a cleaner planet for the future. The catchphrase is ‘choose to refuse’, in other words, say no to plastic.

Sounds simple, right? It should be… but plastics have an awful habit of wrapping themselves around everyday objects and working their way into your shopping.

We all know plastic is bad for the environment – it gets into the ocean and kills marine animals as well as taking forever to degrade. Adding to the pressure, recyclable plastic is fast losing its charm as the export market for it has collapsed – China is not accepting the levels of recyclable waste that it used to – and we’re not set up to do it ourselves.

However, this recycling crisis does provide a push for us to change the way we do things. To move to a better, healthier and more sustainable model. One that is plastic free.

 
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It can be difficult to know where to start so we’ve made a list of some of the unnecessary plastics that you should try to cut from your regular shopping, and offer sustainable alternatives which will do the job just as well but are kinder to the planet.

We know the idea of cutting plastic can seem overwhelming. But how about simply starting with one or two things, and then take it from there.

Here are some ideas to help you kick off Plastic Free July, and a more sustainable lifestyle!

  • Ditch plastic straws from your takeaway soft drink, smoothie or pretty cocktail. Plastic free alternatives range from cardboard, glass and stainless steel reusable straws (which come with a handy, tiny brush for cleaning) to simply using your lips in the original drinking method!
  • Single use plastic shopping bags are on their way out. Supermarkets and big chain stores like Mitre 10, and even whole towns such as Martinborough, are opting for more sustainable options. Recyclable options such as boomerang bags are increasingly common, or you can make your own cotton bags. Alternatively, simply use boxes, baskets, or any old bag you have lying around. It doesn’t really matter what it’s made of, the most important thing is to reuse it as many times as you can.
 
 Image sourced from  boomerangbags.org

Image sourced from boomerangbags.org

 
  • Avoid products with unnecessary plastic – prepackaged meat and deli products often come wrapped in ridiculous amounts. Fruit and vegetables too, many of which grow their own protective wrapping anyway. You’ll find specialty stores and farmers markets often use less packaging.
  • If you regularly buy takeaway coffee, invest in a reusable coffee cup. Alternatively, if circumstances allow (or you don’t mind living dangerously!) get your takeaway coffee without the lid – that’s the bit that’s problematic.
  • Instead of single use plastic bottles for water, milk or soft drinks, choose liquids that come in waxed paperboard cartons or glass bottles.
  • Many grocery items can be purchased without any packaging when you shop at bulk food stores. Simply take your own reusable containers to fill.
 
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  • If you are in the supermarket, opt for products that come in cardboard packaging over their plastic-wrapped competition. And look for products sporting an eco-packaging badge – this means it will be reusable, compostable or recyclable.
  • Cut plastic from your bathroom by switching to solid bar shampoo and conditioner, bamboo toothbrushes, silk dental floss, loo paper that comes packaged in paper, and menstrual cups instead of tampons.
  • In the kitchen, you can ditch plastic by packing lunches in reusable containers or fabric wraps, this works for keeping leftovers too – beeswax cotton wraps can be composed once they finally reach their use-by date. Green Elephant offers a number of sustainable lunch packaging options or you can easily make your own beeswax wraps.
 
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 Image of Munch Food Wraps, available online from Green Elephant.

Image of Munch Food Wraps, available online from Green Elephant.

 

For more information, ideas and inspiration visit plasticfreejuly.org or check out the below!

Instagram:  Bash the Trash , Earthmama.nz, uyoc.nz

Facebook: PlasticFreeJulyPlasticFreeNewZealandPlasticReducer4AMorePlasticFreeNZBanPlasticBagsInNewZealandplasticfreepaula


We have a list of businesses that are committed to sustainable practises, including those offering plastic-free alternatives to everyday products. Sign up here to join the Conscious Consumers community and find businesses that are doing their part to make it easier to be kinder to the environment. Look for businesses with our ‘BYO’ badge - they encourage and incentivise customers who BYO cups, containers or (if applicable) reusable bags. 

Good Fortune is the first NZ coffee roaster to be Living Wage accredited

 

BY Virginia Woods Jack from Lightwood Studio

As you walk up the stairs to the home of Good Fortune Coffee Co housed within the ever-popular Seashore Cabaret in Petone you are greeted by the many familiar sounds of coffee making. The clattering of cups as they are lifted from the warmth of the coffee machine, the grinding of the coffee and whirring of the machine as the coffee is pulled to perfection.  The hissing of the steam the snapping thud of the milk jug banging on the counter settling the milk to create the perfect flat white. I order my own favourite take out coffee, a flat white, and take my seat whilst I wait for owner Matt Wilson to chat about Good Fortune’s latest accreditation of becoming a Living Wage employer and why this is so important to him.

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Started just over two years ago Good Fortune is the first coffee roaster in NZ to become a Living Wage accredited employer. Matt explains it was his intention from the start to create ‘a very caring coffee company’.  Only roasting 100% fairtrade coffee beans brought to NZ by Trade Aid ensures that the farmers and co-ops involved are paid fairly and that more of the money goes back into great initiatives that Trade Aid support. 

The team at Good Fortune Coffee Co is a small one, so Matt openly admits that making the choice to be a Living Wage Employer wasn’t hard particularly but it was important. The margins in coffee roasting allow for a Living Wage and believes that this it true for many businesses and hopes that more will follow suit. Matt isn’t limiting this approach to only The Good Fortune Coffee Co, he is also implementing the same approach at The Seashore Cabaret with 60-70% of the payroll now being either on or above a living wage a 100% target of March 2019.

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“This isn’t an easy task in an industry like hospitality where a lot of staff are paid the minimum wage but once I was aware of the living wage movement I knew I wanted to pay people properly, that it was something I could be really proud of and at the same time prove to other businesses that it is possible. You can run a successful business and still pay people decently.”

- Matt, Owner, Seashore Cabaret


This sentiment was reiterated by Joyce Tung one of the baristas. In her early 30’s she has been in the coffee business for nearly half her life and this is the first time she has been paid a living wage, she explained “I now feel that my experience and skills are being valued… I can now look at this as a career path and I am enjoying being able to save and think of my future, being paid a living wage feels like it has opened up opportunities I never had before”.

Matt explains that there are steps you can take as an employer to encourage businesses you contract to adopt the living wage.  They negotiated with the cleaning company that the cleaners they send are paid a living wage for the time they spend cleaning for them. What a great way to step into this arena and garner support for this movement.

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The Living wage movement is gaining traction, as Matt explains “It’s great having other brands like Fix and Fogg involved as it gives a great marketing edge and it’s a great community where we all support each other where we can, we offer a discount to all living wage employers on our coffee. We've had the Living Wage on the coffee bag design from day one as a bit of marketing and to raise awareness as a lot of people still don’t know enough about it.”

Matt applauds the current governments plan to raise the minimum wage to $20 by April 2021 and joins us in the hope one day we won’t even need the Living Wage accreditation. Until then let’s get behind the business that are making that choice to invest in their staff and encourage more to take this step as this isn’t just an investment in people but in society as a whole and one that we at CC support wholeheartedly.



What is Living Wage?

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The Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ state that: 'A living wage is the income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life. A living wage will enable workers to live with dignity and to participate as active citizens in society. We call upon the Government, employers and society as a whole to strive for a living wage for all households as a necessary and important step in the reduction of poverty in New Zealand.'

 

Seven ways to accessorise your autumn sustainably

 By Frederique Gulcher from MyGoodEmporium

Autumn is definitely here! Down in Queenstown the leaves are turning rust orange ready to fall from the trees, and the mornings are colder and darker. But with the afternoons still warm, layers and accessories are essential. It being New Zealand, the four seasons in one day phenomena is not limited to the central South Island.

If, like me, you’ve been scrounging around for your cool-weather warmers, and are less than impressed, it may be time to inject something new into your collection.

As much as I love fashion, I try to keep my consumption limited, and choose labels that have great sustainable and ethical credentials. Often instead of buying an entire new wardrobe each season, I invest in a few new accessories, giving me options to dress an outfit up or down, layer for extra warmth and just embrace the whole Autumn thing!

 

Here are my top 7 sustainable Autumn accessory picks

1. Recreate Scarf

A scarf never goes out of fashion.

Why? Because of its versatility. A scarf can be pulled in on colder days or draped loosely as it warms up.  ReCreate have a lovely handwoven scarf, made from 100% natural handwoven cotton and dyed with organic, plant-based dye. Not only is this a classic style, but it’s ethically created in Cambodia under excellent working conditions, providing fair employment and life-changing training opportunities. Nice one!

2. Ice Breaker Hat

Rain in the morning, sun in the afternoon… I need a hat!

Perhaps you’re still rocking your summer trilby, but if you want to get intrepid and go for a long walk or a tramp, you’ll need something a bit more suitable. Autumn is a great time for hiking our beautiful country, so invest in a beanie, like this unisex Oasis beanie from Ice Breaker, made from merino wool.

3. Duffle & Co Bag

Something to carry it all in.

That’s the thing about Autumn. It can be crisp and fresh one minute, warm and balmy the next. You’ll need to carry layers! Duffle & Co, a young Kiwi brand, have a beautiful collection of B-Corp Certified, fairly-paid, hand-crafted duffle and tote bags, backpacks, satchels, sleeves and handbags. They also support KiwiHarvest to help feed families in need and Million Metres, who plant trees to restore our waterways. That’s pretty special, I reckon. The Arbuckle backpack looks big enough!

4. WE-AR Belt

A belt.

You’ll need something to hold up the trousers you dug out of the cupboard. This braided leather one from WE-AR caught my eye because it’s the kind of belt you might wear even when the fit of yours is perfect.

5. Proof Eyewear from Mandatory Sunglasses

Sunglasses.

To best savour the last few remaining warm autumnal afternoons of impromptu afternoon beach walks, al fresco tapas and drinks in the courtyard get some stylish eco eye wear. For men, Proof Eyewear from Mandatory has a great collection of polarised lenses. They are hand-made from sustainably sourced wood, recycled aluminium cans and cotton acetate.

6. Trade Aid Necklace

Jewellery.

I find that in summer, I accessorise less because I wear less. Somehow hoop earrings, beads, chunky bracelets just fit Autumn and layered outfits better. Channel your inner-boho and check out the Trade Aid store collection. I like this Green tassel necklace handcrafted by artisans working with TARA (Trade Alternative Reform Action) Projects in India offering employment to the economically marginalised.

7. Doug the Cloud

Doug. What is Doug?

I stumbled upon this versatile little doo-da at Tummah Ethical Trade store. It’s a cloud-shaped, upcycled soft spongy motif on a cloth band that can be tied as a bracelet, a hair tie, or even a great wee badge. It’s by No Nasties, a 100% organic, 100% fair trade fashion brand based in Goa, India. I love this because it’s not just about fashion - Doug the Cloud is the mascot for an awesome non-profit project providing additional income to cotton farming women of India who make them. Tummah (and No Nasties) have some fantastic other clothes and accessories. Go and take a look.

New World Island Bay is reducing and reusing

Minimising packing and waste is the issue most Conscious Consumers care about, so it's great to see businesses taking the lead to reduce waste, just like Amanda Elliot from New World Island Bay.

 
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New World Island Bay have introduced reusable produce bags to cut down on the amount of plastic that gets thrown away and work towards a more environmentally-friendly supermarket. These colourful bags are perfect to put your fresh fruit and vegetables in, and a great replacement for a single-use plastic bag.
 
They are embracing sustainability in plenty of other ways as well; they only stock cage free eggs, recycle 90% of their waste and have switched to LED lighting across the store. They are also part of wider New World initiatives, including banning microbeads from all of their products and switching to 100% recyclable meat trays.

 

“We want to work with our customers to reduce the number of plastic bags we use as much as possible. Many Island Bay customers are amazing with the use of re-usable shopping bags and we saw this as an opportunity to encourage customers to start bringing reusable bags for individual products as well.”

– Amanda Elliot, Owner Operator at Island Bay New World

Amanda Elliot
 
 

We need to do better New Zealand!

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A new report has labelled New Zealand the most wasteful developed nation in the world, with over 30% more waste per capita than the United States, and more than double the waste per capita of the United Kingdom. We produce on average 3.7kgs of waste per person per day, and take home about 700 million supermarket bags a year, enough to cover the Auckland CBD 29 times. 

There are heaps of ways we can each make a difference and reduce the waste we create - and using reusable bags at supermarkets is a great start! Together, with the support of businesses wanting to make positive change, we can do this. Come on NZ! 


Reference:

Waste Report

duffle&co bags a winner

 
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Duffle&co is one of the first brands in New Zealand to start using pineapple leather. This innovative material is completely vegan, durable and is made from pineapple leaves, which would otherwise be wasted after harvest. It also creates a secondary source of income for pineapple farmers in developing countries who otherwise rely on seasonal work.

As they develop, duffle&co are actively looking for more sustainable materials to use when creating products. Pineapple leather stood out not only for its sustainability factor, but for the positive impact it has on local communities. They're not stopping here though - they are currently looking to reintroduce hemp, bamboo and recycled materials into their product range, alongside pineapple leather and organic cotton
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"We love it because of its sustainable nature and the fact that it supports local communites around the world, which is a huge driver for our brand."

- Freya Lewis, Operations Manager, duffle&co



What is Pineapple Leather?

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Pineapple leather is made from the leaves of the pineapple plant, which is a by-product of the pineapple industry. The raw material does not require any additional resources to grow and is free from pesticides and chemicals, meaning it does not harm people or the planet in the production process. Its strong and lightweight nature makes it a versatile material that can be used for furnishings, bags, shoes and other products. 


 

New World Thorndon is leading the charge⚡

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When we caught up with Ash Drake, Services Store Manager at New World Thorndon, he was busy shining the wheels on the new store delivery van. Ash and the online shopping team are deservedly proud of this Nissan e-NV200 van – it’s 100% electric.

Since they started using the van in July, New World Thorndon has already saved 1,600 kg of CO2e*. The van is one of 28 around New Zealand, purchased by Foodstuffs (New World, PAK’nSAVE and Four Square supermarkets) to help reduce their carbon footprint.
(*Source: FlipTheFleet)


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Our van is so much fun to drive. It’s super efficient, smooth on the road, and really reliable. We’re driving over 130km on one charge – more than enough for our daily catering and online shopping deliveries. We get lots of comments from our customers – they often want to stop and chat about the van, or even take a drive! 
— Ashley Drake
 

Electric Vehicles — why they are awesome!

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Emissions from vehicles make up a whopping 20% of New Zealand’s carbon emissions. Electric vehicles are a great way to reduce these emissions. We are very lucky that most of our electricity is generated from renewable energy sources like wind and water, which means using EVs reduces your emissions by 80%!

We reckon electric vehicles are also pretty fun to drive, as they make very little noise, have amazing acceleration, and are really cheap to run. No wonder they are taking off!
 


Raise a glass for the workers 🍻

Raise a glass for the workers 🍻

Rogue & Vagabond got accredited for the Living Wage late last year after manager Calum advocated for it. Their staff are now all paid at least the minimum, and they brought the cleaners in-house as their commercial cleaner didn’t pay Living Wage.

Tom, a staff member who started after the Living Wage was introduced, is experiencing it for the first time. The extra cash definitely makes a difference, and he’s pretty happy to be part of a business that’s setting the standard.