Bin contents get bad mark

Last updated 11:23 30/04/2014
Southland Times photo

Goldfields Primary School pupils Daisy Poole, 10, and Rhys Watts, 10, with Enviroschools facilitator Steve Brown.

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Central Otago school children are participating in a Zero Waste Challenge, which involves a waste audit of their wheelie bins. Mirror reporter Jo McKenzie-McLean decided to let two Goldfields School pupils, Daisy Poole and Rhys Watts, scrutinise her wheelie bin, along with Enviroschools facilitator Steve Brown. 

Daisy and Rhys are two brave kids - picking their way through a week's worth of stinky, rotting, household rubbish to help show this lazy recycler, and the wider community, how much unnecessary waste gets thoughtlessly turfed into wheelie bins and trucked off to landfills.

Stretching their fingers into rubber gloves and pulling masks over their faces, they tell me before the rubbish contents spew on to the lawn they hope not to come across any food scraps that can be composted or waste that could be recycled.

"This is really bad," Rhys gasps as full cans of food, expired plastic containers of spices, food scraps and nappies roll out to greet them.

"Are you sure this is only one week's worth of rubbish?" he asks as I cringe with embarrassment.

"I can't believe how many nappies you have got in there," Daisy says.

Enviroschools facilitator Steve Brown helps the kids put my waste into six piles - plastics, cardboards/papers, food, hardfill, green waste and rubbish that was rightfully in the wheelie bin such as tin foil products and packaging tainted with food.

Sitting to the side of the piles, is a separate bag of 30 nappies accumulated over a week by my 17-month-old daughter and three-year-old son (who wears a nappy to bed a night).

Brown tells me at least half, if not three quarters of the contents inside my wheelie bin, could have been recycled.

About one quarter could have been composted.

"Some stuff was tainted by food so has to go out as rubbish, but there are things you could empty out into a compost bin, worm farm or bokashi bucket and rinsed the container for recycling. You just need to take a bit more time and effort. For families, schools and businesses the less waste you make and have to pay to get rid of, the better it is on your pocket."

Daisy and Reece, with slight reprimanding tones, say it also saves the environment because it reduces rubbish going to landfills.

Looking at my pile of plastic shopping bags, (which are made from oil - a precious resource getting harder to find, Steve points out) the pair say I could be using reusable shopping bags.

People could look at how a product is packaged and look for alternatives that don't use so much packaging, Brown says.

"You can also take your own reused bags and containers to put your other loose items in instead of them being put in a plastic bag to carry.

"An example of that could if you were buying nuts or something like that you could take a bag from home so you are reusing a bag. Some people just put their loose items in their trolley and don't use a bag."

Feeling rather ashamed of myself as Brown slips me a brochure about the "Nappy Lady" - who holds reusable nappy workshops in Central Otago - Daisy points to a good spot for a compost bin then tells me she and Rhys will return in few months to go through my wheelie bin again to see if my waste habits have improved.

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- The Southland Times


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