Reduce waste at home

Reduce at home

Reduce junk mail

Over 44% of printed circulars are never read, so why accept them? provides a service for people who choose to receive promotional information from retail and mail order businesses via email, instead of through their letterbox.

As an alternative, display a mailbox sticker to say 'no junk mail' or 'no circulars except community newspapers'. These may be available from local Council offices or can be obtained by mail free (send a stamped self-addressed A5 or DL size envelope) from Sustainable Living Education Trust, PO Box 58, Geraldine 7956.

Prefer re-usable shopping bags to plastic ones

Take reusable fabric bags or boxes whenever you shop.

New Zealanders used 1.6 billion short life plastic bags each year. Only 2% of lightweight plastic shopping bags were recycled and most are used only once. Say no to throw-away bags at the checkout! In 2018 the NZ Ministry for Environment sought public and retailers' views on banning single use plastic carrier bags - and has implemented a ban in 2019

A Packaging Forum grant in 2016 part funded a trial of a bag recycling service at The Warehouse, Pak 'n' Save, New World and Countdown stores across Auckland, Waikato and much of Canterbury. Soft plastic recycling collection points at Warehouse stores and supermarkets for cleaned food and grocery pack soft plastics (such as bread and fruit or veg bags - fresh or frozen) and bubble wrap, plus checkout bags, if you do not manage to avoid them! The plastic is re-used by Replas in Australia to make street furniture such as bollards, benches and bins.However the exprt market to China has collapsed, leading to soft plastic recycling collection going 'on hold' in 2019

Empty bags blow away to make pollution on land and waterways, are broken by sunlight into small particles that may be eaten by animals, birds and fish (who get no food value from them) and persist for a long time when buried in landfills. They are made mostly from non-renewable oil or gas, occasionally from corn starch. Most labelled 'compostable' will only do so in perfect warm oxygen-rich conditions, and not in a sealed landfill.

Make compost

- see our pages on this great way to reduce landfill, reduce greenhouse gas (inc. methane) emissions and feed your garden veg!

Donate to op shops or 'freecycle'

Domestic items, furniture and clothing that are not obviously saleable yet too good to dismantle for recovery of materials might be re-used by someone else, so make a connection with charity and opportunity shops which specialise in this, using Yellow Pages search (remember to insert your local town or region) or use web-based  freecycle

In Timaru the Crows Nest reuse shop is an example.

Other re-use shops in Ashburton, Blenheim, Christchurch, Oamaru, Palmerston, Nelson... tell us about yours!

Love Food - Hate Waste

An information campaign for households and catering businesses, to make better use of the food we buy so that less is wasted. Shopping and menu ideas to help busy people and save money. Large amounts of food are wasted along the chain from grower to retailer to home. Sign up at Love Food Hate Waste website, or use Facebook.  

Sometimes enjoying food and drinks outside home involves unwanted waste, such as plastic containers and plastic straws. Avoid this by re-using strong sealed-lid containers for the 'take aways' and carrying reusuable straws such as those from Metalworks Wanaka.

Learn more with Future Living Skills & Rubbish Free Year

A  learning guide on 'waste minimisation at home' designed for group discussion is available to download free within 14 member local council areas across NZ, once you register your location and email address at Sustainable Living website 

A year of living rubbish free in NZ inspired Matthew and Waveney to share their know-how in a household website guide.

Reduce your chemical exposure

Ecostore reduces impact on the environment by finding alternatives to toxic chemicals often used in cleaning and bodycare products.

Other NZ firms in this cleaning products area which, like Ecostore, have earned Environmental Choice accreditation, include BEE ( 'Be Environmentally Enlightened') and Green Kleen (from BJ Ball).

Sanitary products

Fed up with chucking tampons and pads into landfill each month (because they should not go down the toilet)? Try washable menstrual cups as an alternative. For example MyCup NZ.