A year renewing, re-using and recycling
Proving that we need not live wasteful lives, eco-conscious Masterton couple Robin and Heather List have managed to make it through a whole year generating only one council bag full of rubbish.
Robin put out his one blue bag full of rubbish for today's collection and he says their mission to reduce their waste for the year was a big success and they enjoyed the challenge.
Given that the average Kiwi couple sends about 1.5 tons of rubbish to landfill each year, the Lists' single bag is a significant eco achievement.
Robin says he stumbled on the idea to generate minimal waste when he was at Eco Fest in Nelson last year and got talking to Waveney Warth and Matt Luxon of rubbishfree.co.nz.
"We decided that instead of just talking about it, we would actually give it a go," says Robin.
The only things that their household wasn't able to reuse or recycle were items like the Styrofoam bases to food packaging and bonded foil wrapping.
Minimising waste doesn't begin and end with recycling though. To cut down on the rubbish at the end of the waste stream, consumers have to make good choices when they buy.
Robin and Heather buy most of their meat from a traditional butcher who uses minimal packaging. They go to the bulk fill- you-own food retailers such as Bin Inn and this also cuts back on packaging. They even have a wooden dish brush that can be burnt or composted when the head is worn out.
The rubbish free ethos fits in with a lot of other things that the Lists are doing at home.
They have a composting system at their South Belt property and have taken steps in all other parts of their lifestyle to minimise their impact on the planet.
The house is built to maximise solar gain and retain heat. It has solar panels to generate electricity and storage in the form of batteries. They have solar heated water and use recycled timber waste for the woodburner. They grow a lot of their own food.
Robin says they really enjoy the lifestyle and they have very low energy consumption. Each year they use around $240 worth of electricity and about the same in gas and firewood.