It’s a wrap­per

New Zealand Listener - - LETTERS -

The use of plas­tic bags is what we have come to ex­pect or de­mand to keep con­tents in pris­tine con­di­tion (“Shrink­ing our wrap”, Oc­to­ber 27), whether the con­tents are mag­a­zines, food, house­hold or other items. On his re­turn to New Zealand af­ter sev­eral years away, the Par­lia­men­tary Com­mis­sioner for the En­vi­ron­ment, Si­mon Up­ton, was re­ported as be­ing “gob­s­macked” by the amount of plas­tic we use.

The en­vi­ron­men­tal mantra “re­duce, re-use, re-pur­pose or re­cy­cle” demon­strates that in­di­vid­u­als, com­pa­nies, or­gan­i­sa­tions and waste man­agers have op­tions. The least de­sir­able des­ti­na­tion for used plas­tic is land­fills.

How­ever, there are big en­ergy costs in all as­pects of the re­cy­cling process, and the car­bon emis­sions as­so­ci­ated with these ac­tiv­i­ties also have the po­ten­tial to con­trib­ute to cli­mate change.

Re-us­ing by way of re­fill­ing plas­tic con­tain­ers such as those used for de­ter­gent, sham­poo, hand­wash and clean­ers goes some way to­wards ad­dress­ing the plas­tic prob­lem. How­ever, very few man­u­fac­tur­ers cur­rently of­fer this op­tion.

In New Zealand, at least, very lit­tle at­ten­tion ap­pears to be paid to the con­cept of re­duc­ing plas­tic use. Ar­ti­cles on how house­holds could do so would be very wel­come. A col­umn where read­ers could of­fer sug­ges­tions could be a valu­able first step in help­ing us take more re­spon­si­bil­ity for the waste we gen­er­ate. C Black­ford (Auck­land)

Just re­ceived your ex­cel­lent “Dras­tic plas­tic” (Oc­to­ber 27) is­sue. Why do you send my copy in a plas­tic bag in­stead of the “old-fash­ioned” pa­per en­ve­lope?

Lynn Butcher (Palmer­ston North)

The cir­cu­la­tion team at Bauer Me­dia, the Lis­tener’s pub­lisher, is look­ing into al­ter­na­tive wa­ter­proof wrap­ping op­tions. Bauer is an Enviro-Mark Gold Cer­ti­fied busi­ness, which has been recog­nised for out­stand­ing per­for­mance in en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment, but we’re still im­prov­ing and striv­ing for more eco-friendly pack­ag­ing. How­ever, most of the pa­per pack­ages on the market are sealed with a toxic glue that does not de­com­pose. In the mean­time, the present wrap­ping is the same soft plas­tic as used for bread bags. It is re­cy­clable and can be left in col­lec­tion bins at most su­per­mar­kets. – Editor


The furore sparked by Jami-Lee Ross ( Pol­i­tics, Oc­to­ber 27) over po­lit­i­cal do­na­tions adds to the per­cep­tion that such gifts are cor­rupt in that some in­flu­ence or favour is of­ten ex­pected in re­turn. An an­swer to this would be to ban do­na­tions, pos­si­bly with ex­cep­tions for mem­ber­ship fees and per­sonal do­na­tions un­der a low thresh­old.

In­stead, po­lit­i­cal par­ties should be funded by the state, as is the rest of the po­lit­i­cal process. A for­mula, per­haps based on a bal­ance of polls, party mem­ber­ship and past vot­ing, could be de­vised to al­lo­cate fund­ing. Of course, par­ties al­ready re­ceive some state fund­ing ac­cord­ing to a well-tested for­mula, so there is a prece­dent and tem­plate for fully state fund­ing the po­lit­i­cal process.

Such an idea is sure to draw ob­jec­tions, es­pe­cially from big busi­nesses and the larger po­lit­i­cal par­ties, which is prob­a­bly even more rea­son to adopt it. Per­haps busi­nesses would be pre­pared to pay a small “demo­cratic” tax in lieu of do­na­tions, which could then be used to help fund the whole process.

Re­mov­ing the fi­nan­cial in­flu­ence of big busi­ness would greatly en­hance the eq­uity, trans­parency and fair­ness of our demo­cratic sys­tem. Tony Bevin (Rau­mati Beach)


Ann Dredge’s story, as told by

her lov­ing and de­ter­mined hus­band, Peter (“Against the flow”, Oc­to­ber 27), is a call to arms for peo­ple di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s. It also raises aware­ness of what we can do be­fore symp­toms of this aw­ful dis­ease are ev­i­dent.

Sad­dest of all is the lack of op­tions peo­ple feel they have and some of the stuck think­ing by some doc­tors.

I hope the Dredges’ story helps rem­edy that. For more re­sources, go to, which has been es­tab­lished by peo­ple with ge­netic con­fir­ma­tion of their higher Alzheimer’s risk.

Sharon Nates (Green­lane, Auck­land) LET­TER OF THE WEEK

The ar­ti­cle on Dale Bre­desen’s pre­scrip­tion for Alzheimer’s re­lies on as­ser­tion, per­sonal anec­dote, a sam­ple size of one per­son, slag­ging off the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion and dis­parate bits of sci­ence cob­bled to­gether to cre­ate an un­chal­lenged shaky ed­i­fice of

prob­a­ble non­sense.

John Werry

Emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor, fac­ulty of medicine and health sciences, Univer­sity of Auck­land


As a man in my late eight­ies, I find it dif­fi­cult to view the fu­ture op­ti­misti­cally. There are three main rea­sons for that.

First, our prob­lems – cli­mate change, for in­stance – are global, yet there is no global or­gan­i­sa­tion to co-or­di­nate a re­sponse. Sec­ond, econ­o­mists say that cap­i­tal­ism is out of date and needs re­plac­ing, just as the present sys­tem took over from feu­dal­ism, which in turn dis­placed trib­al­ism. Yet I can find no ev­i­dence that there is po­lit­i­cal en­thu­si­asm for a new eco­nomic model.

Last, we need a new un­der­stand­ing of moral­ity, a point made re­cently by an Aus­tralian aca­demic in an ar­ti­cle headed “The great­est moral chal­lenge of our time? It’s how we think about moral­ity it­self.”

The world has changed since the for­mu­la­tion of the re­li­gious laws from which most of our moral think­ing is de­rived. The one in which we now live re­quires a moral­ity that recog­nises gen­der equal­ity, the

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