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Centre of sustainability

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 04/04/2014
Judith Holtebrinck
Emma Whittaker
RUBBISH REDUCTION: Mt Eden Village Centre manager Judith Holtebrinck is helping the centre becoming a zero-waste facility.

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Their bins are empty and yours could be too.

Staff at the Mt Eden Village Centre send almost no waste to landfill despite being the fact the centre is used by hundreds every week for community events, classes and celebrations.

Centre manager Judith Holtebrinck is also the founder of the Mt Eden Village People community group which has been helping local businesses to introduce sustainability practices since 2006.

She wanted her workplace to be environmentally friendly when she started at the village centre three years ago.

"It is easy to feel disempowered and hopeless about global warming and waste," she says.

"Yet everyone can do their bit, you've got to start somewhere."

The changes have ranged from small to the more ambitious.

For starters, there are only two bins inside the centre.

They are lined with newspaper instead of plastic bin liners and are rinsed out regularly.

Other changes include replacing battery powered hand soap dispensers with push pumps.

"You can make changes that will benefit the environment but will save you some money at the same time," Holtebrinck says.

Users of the centre are encouraged to use the cups and plates provided rather than plastic or paper ones. And they take away any of their own extra rubbish.

All paper gets recycled and there is a worm farm on site for food scraps.

Users have responded well, Holtebrinck says.

"I think people understand we can't deal with the waste. But we say you can leave some food here for the worm farm. People seem really happy that we're feeding worms," she says

"Our red and blue wheelie bins sit pretty much empty except for a few discarded coffee cups."

The centre has also made bigger investments like installing under-floor insulation to save on power bills.

The centre is run by a trust which formalised its commitment to being environmentally friendly with its sustainability policy in 2012.

"Some trust members were sceptical when Judith first suggested we implemented this policy but she made it clear that it would be cost neutral or better and so it has proved," trust chairman Mark Thomas says.

There are lots of simple things people can do in their own homes and businesses to follow suit, Holtebrinck says.

"We bought an ink cartridge that was in packaging . . . I called the supplier to see if it could be sent without out all the packaging. But they said it wasn't possible so we changed supplier."

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