James Rus­sell El­e­ment editor

Element - - Contents -

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.

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