Plas­tic-free liv­ing a breeze


Liv­ing ‘plas­tic-free’ for six months has come eas­ier to a Ka¯piti Coast fam­ily of six than they thought it would.

‘‘The hard­est thing about it is con­vinc­ing other peo­ple that it’s not hard to do. Our grandparents and great-grandparents would have done it,’’ Paeka¯ka¯riki mum Rachel Bene­field said.

Bene­field and her part­ner, Al­bert Ubels, to­gether with their chil­dren Luka, Ma­bel, Rosa and Ngahuia, used to be a typ­i­cal fam- ily who would buy and re­cy­cle plas­tic items. That was un­til they at­tended a zero waste event hosted by Ka¯piti Coast Dis­trict Coun­cil, which changed their way of think­ing.

Bene­field said they went along mainly to sup­port a friend who was pre­sent­ing. But the Paeka¯ka¯riki fam­ily was so con­vinced, it made a con­certed ef­fort to go plas­tic-free.

‘‘It re­ally res­onated with us and it’s changed our lives – for the bet­ter.

‘‘Even the kids are on board with it all, which is fan­tas­tic.’’

Pre­vi­ously the fam­ily, which also in­cluded one dog and two cats, would put out one kerb­side col­lec­tion rub­bish bag every week. In the past six months, they have put out only two bags – mostly filled with plas­tic and other rub­bish they had picked up from the lo­cal beach and other pub­lic ar­eas.

Bene­field said they sim­ply fol­low ‘‘the five Rs’’ strat­egy of ‘‘refuse, re­duce, re­use, re-pur­pose, re­cy­cle’’.

‘‘The only thing with plas­tic we’ve bought in the past six months was a $3 sec­ond-hand yo­ghurt maker. But most of­ten there is al­ways an al­ter­na­tive to plas­tic.’’

For ex­am­ple, the fam­ily use glass jars and other re­fill­able con­tain­ers at stores with bulk bins.

‘‘Buy­ing in bulk is more cost ef­fi­cient too, and we have never been to a store that re­fused to fill one of our re-use­able con­tain­ers,’’ Bene­field said.

They dis­cov­ered bam­boo tooth­brushes and now even made their own tooth­paste, us­ing coco- nut oil, bak­ing soda and mint essence.

Ubels said plas­tic re­cy­cling was not hap­pen­ing as much or was as ef­fec­tive as peo­ple as­sumed.

‘‘Plas­tic is ev­ery­where and every piece that any of us have ever used in our en­tire lives will still be on the planet some­where, even if it has been re­cy­cled.’’

Any­one in­ter­ested in learn­ing more can visit the fam­ily’s Face­book page face­ Plas­ticFree-Kapiti.


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