James Russell Element editor
Consider this: of all the millions of species on the planet, we are the only one whose waste products do not nourish the earth.
We are swamped by waste, and banishing sacks and wheelie bins of it each week from our homes has been normalized so much it doesn’t seem unusual. In fact, it’s tragic, and unnecessary. Auckland Council’s ‘zero waste by 2040’ target has been dismissed as little more than delusional frivolity, but the champions profiled in these pages show it can be achieved. They have already done it, and done it against the odds. Imagine how easily a zero-waste future could be achieved with the right conditions.
Those conditions, as usual, require a bit of stick, a bit of carrot. Companies whose products or packaging are deleterious to the environment at the end of their useable life must be regulated to take responsibility – and pay for – their true cost, in order to super-charge the motive for designing out the waste. We’re expecting too much for them to do it out of a sense of pure altruism.
Consumers, on the other hand, must learn to ‘see’ the waste in the things of life. Eschew the plastic straw at the restaurant; eat in at the sushi joint; complain direct to the companies packaging the hell out of things; compost.
Our wild lands and our seas are awash with our meek acceptance of waste. It’s time for the Tidy Kiwi to rise up again – in an enlightened, modern guise.