What ever hap­pened to ‘Be a Tidy Kiwi’? – surely one of the best so­cial mar­ket­ing cam­paigns ever waged from that day to this.

Element - - Contents - James Rus­sell El­e­ment editor

One of the more en­dur­ing im­ages of my child­hood was at Marae­tai Beach in East Auck­land, when a sud­den gust whipped an ice­block wrap­per from the hand of a great big hairy patched gang mem­ber. Doubt­less he em­bar­rassed him­self in front of his brethren, but his first, im­pul­sive re­ac­tion was to leap to his feet and chase it down the beach. Ev­ery­one turned to see: the wrap­per was do­ing its thing – catch­ing on some­thing, com­ing loose, trav­el­ling a lit­tle fur­ther, catch­ing again. His great boots, try as they might, could not pin it; it eluded him un­til, fi­nally, down by the water, he sheep­ishly caught it.

At the risk of sound­ing like a ‘those-were-the-days’ nos­tal­gic old man, those were the days.

Ask Sam Judd, founder of Sus­tain­able Coast­lines, the char­ity car­ing for our na­tion’s beaches with mon­u­men­tal clean-ups, about what is flood­ing down the stormwa­ter drains into our oceans. Over­whelm­ingly sin­gle-use plas­tics, which isn’t sur­pris­ing, given that over half of all plas­tic prod­ucts are de­signed for just one use.

“Noth­ing will see the or­ganic waste col­lec­tion ren­dered point­less quicker than fees”

Sam makes the point that ed­u­ca­tion is the best waste to tackle in­dis­crim­i­nate lit­ter­ing rather than catch­ing it in the drains, or pick­ing it off the beaches.

What is to be done about this tide of waste? When cost is in­volved, habits change dras­ti­cally. Take Ire­land, which in 2002 through the sim­ple ve­hi­cle of im­pos­ing a levy on each plas­tic bag, cut us­age of the things by 90 per cent al­most overnight.

And wit­ness Cuba’s re­sponse to their own, lo­calised oil cri­sis in 1991 (see Tim Rainger’s story on page 16) – when rock­et­ing prices saw an un­prece­dented ex­o­dus to house­hold and com­mu­nity vegetable gar­dens, bio fer­tilis­ers and pest con­trol, and pub­lic trans­port – all be­cause to carry on as nor­mal was sim­ply too ex­pen­sive.

A three-bin col­lec­tion sys­tem in Auck­land – one for waste, an­other for re­cy­clables and a third for or­ganic waste is pro­posed, but noth­ing will see the or­ganic waste col­lec­tion ren­dered point­less quicker than fees, when a com­post heap or base­ment worm farm will do the same job for noth­ing.

Then think back­wards from the vol­ume-costed rub­bish col­lec­tion: con­sumers will go up and down the aisles of their su­per­mar­ket, with the tiny nag­ging thought that every­thing they buy in pack­ag­ing that can nei­ther be com­posted nor re­cy­cled will have to be paid for.

Some­one will come up with a Cer­ti­fied Com­postable Pack­ag­ing la­bel, and brands will sport it as a badge of hon­our.

Sales of Sunsweet in­di­vid­u­ally wrapped prunes – the right­ful win­ner of the Un­packit Worst Pack­ag­ing Award last year – will right­fully plum­met un­til they can get their act to­gether. Now we’re get­ting some­where.

A lit­tle imag­i­na­tion from us all is all it takes not to con­trib­ute to the sea of plas­tic rub­bish float­ing around in our oceans.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.