For each of the past five years since moving to Kaikoura, Ralph and Ali Hogan have produced only one bag of rubbish.
Each July they go to the landfill to deposit the bag.
"One of the drawcards of moving here was the lure of a robust recycling programme that makes this possible," Mr Hogan said.
But this year was a little different.
"While we improved with only three-quarters of a bag of domestic rubbish that had to go to landfill, we built a garage and produced some construction rubbish as well," he said.
"That gave us another challenge - to recycle and reduce our materials in the hope of keeping this extraordinary construction rubbish to a maximum of only one additional bag.
"ITM was helpful in taking back left-over partial rolls of items like roofing paper and building wrap, making them available for someone who only needed a partial roll.
Steel roofing off-cuts were recyclable but the Hogans were also challenged in figuring out how to use as much as possible of the material constructively in the building itself.
"We were happy to meet our one bag goal on the construction rubbish and to reduce even further our domestic rubbish by 25 per cent," Mr Hogan said.
The couple and their two adult children moved to New Zealand from the United States after being attracted by the country's clean green image and have been pioneers for the cause ever since.
Ralph says the trick is to buy in bulk and to never buys a product with packaging that cannot be recycled. If he cannot find a product in a recyclable container, he asks for assistance or goes without.
When shopping he always uses a recyclable shopping bag, reusing plastic bags from bread and other products if needed around the home. Even if he forgets the all important cloth bag he refuses to accept plastic bags, preferring to punish himself by managing clumsily without but he remembers the next time!
Composting is a habit and the couple do not eat meat so that is another waste saving bonus. Ralph says he and Ali collect about 10 litres of compost weekly and says it is not an issue if done properly. Layering and turning now and then stops smells and prevents animals becoming attracted to the compost.
Ralph says it is important to try to avoid buying "rubbish". He believes if a product is cheap and looks like rubbish, chances are it will be. He prefers to spend more money on a product which will last 10 times longer, although he admits this is getting more difficult with what he calls the "proliferation" of poorly made items.
- © Fairfax NZ News