Planning the challenge

Welcome to our first blog.

When we first decided to commit to a year of living without creating any rubbish I assumed the going would get tough when we started, but the last couple of months have been so full of a myriad of little preparations that I find myself hoping that living rubbish free will be less work than getting ready for it. The barrier is much bigger than we imagined. Preparations have consumed time and forced creative thought as we leap (or lurch?!) from our existing system of doing things to a new way, but hopefully in a years time, we can be working comfortably from a new ‘operating system’.

The following 2 blogs overview of the preparations we have made so far, this one is about ways to ‘re-home’ with rubbish, the second one is about alternatives to products that can’t be recycled.

Re-homing Rubbish

After doing a few “zero waste” google searches, I have learned that there are some people and communities out there who have found ways to re-home 100% of their rubbish. (e.g. this youtube clip of a zero waste apartment building This means plastic packaging, gladwrap, styrofoam, toothpaste tubes etc can all be used and recycled. In New Zealand the best I have heard of is Xtreme Waste in the Raglan area who divert 75% of rubbish from the landfill. Obviously the more research we do in this area the easier our year will be. All links, thoughts and comments would be really appreciated, as we are very new to all of this and I know there is a lot of information out there. The following is has widespead relevance, but is particularly relevant to Christchurch readers

  • Paper and cardboard: reuse, recycle, compost
  • Organic matter: compost, bury (eg dog poo, hair, fingernail clippings), feed to dog (dairy produce, meat etc that would attract mice if left in the compost) and chickens, return excess bones to butcher (they have a bone collection service where the bones are used to create other products), burn (we have a logburner which is great for excess green matter when it dries), mulch… I am sure this list will grow.
  • Plastic: reuse (a lot of what we throw is useful, e.g good containers, but we get overwhelmed with the sheer volume, so the trick will be to buy these things more often than we need their containers), recycle (we can do 1’s and 2’s in Christchurch) What else could we do with it A lot of work has gone into finding places that we can shop, and comparing prices etc. Finding toilet paper that comes in paper packaging for example. Checking out the alternatives to toothpaste in a plastic tube etc.
  • Glass: reuse, recycle. Broken glass: I am not sure yet but I am sure there will be somewhere that will take it
  • Metals: reuse, recycle. I am not sure what our curbside recycling will take just yet, but I intend to take the rest to a scrap metal dealer.
  • Textiles: mend things, clothing bins, rag bins (I have heard of these but haven’t sourced one in Christchurch yet),
  • Composite materials (eg computer, jug, old couch): Things that still work can be given to places like the City Mission and New Harvest Trust (two excellent Christchurch charities). Otherwise: Take apart and deal with as above, sell on Trade Me (there are plenty of people out there who want these sorts of things, I guess they are good at fixing things), find places that take specific things, eg Molten Media (a Christchurch community trust) take computers and related gear.

Note: For Christchurch readers check out this link: <; It has great information on how and where to recycle particular things. (It is a bit old though, anyone got a better link?) Among other things, it mentions Creative Junk, which is a genius Early Childhood Resource Centre. To shop there you must first join up (about $10) and then its fill a bag for some insubstantial sum, about$3. They sell (bright, shiny, fluffy) industrial off cuts that would otherwise be rubbish and welcome new supplies of reuseable materials from anyone. Wonderful place for creative minds. They are now at 254 Port Hills Road, Hillsborough, phone 376 6292 for opening times and more info.

5 thoughts on “Planning the challenge

  1. Firstly congratulations for taking on the Challenge of waste reduction. Its great to see people actively reducing their waste. I hope you find the cheese your after :).

    Secondly I wanted suggest a website and book you might not be aware of … is a great website/network where people list things they want to give away or would like to have. Freecycle is a global initiative but has local networks within NZ. I’m sure that there will be a site for Christchurch. Have a look its amazing the quality of goods people are giving away. {

    I’ve also found a great book in the Library – “Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things” by Readers Digest. It details over 2000 ways to save money and time using 209 common household items i.e.nail polish, cd’s, natural household cleaners, vinegar, epsom salters etc. I’m still going through the book myself but there are over 34 different uses for pantyhouse! Its like a ‘Reuse’ Bible. Its well worth the trip to the library.

    Best of luck with the Challenge, I look forward to reading your blogs.


  2. Hi Waveney and Matthew,
    Don’t know if you remember us but Cherrol and I inhabitted the cottage down the hill from where you were staying at Whitefish Lake, Ontario.
    Looks like you’ve made it home. You must have many great memories of adventures around the world.
    We just heard about your project (Alma sent along a note) and think its a great idea. We believe strongly in waste reduction and making an attempt at being rubish free is to be commended. We’ll be checking your blog to see how you’re doing. Best of luck with it.
    Just a few days ago I heard an article on rubbish reduction on CBC Radio1, but it had a rather perverse outcome. The short of it was that a man in San Carlos California had so reduced his garbage that he no longer put out anything to be taken away by the city’s curb pick-up. But instead of congratulating him the city is suing him.
    Thought you might be interested – if so here is a URL to the radio show episode look for No Garbage Man and give it a listen.

    Again – good luck with your project.

    Mike and Cherrol Grant


  3. Hi guys,

    I’ve just discovered your site after web-searching for info on my bioplastics engineering project. If you’re after cheese with minimal wrapping, how about going the old-fashioned way and finding a locally owned deli? Ours has 64 varieties of cheese! After the cheese is weighed and priced, you could take it home in a container you’ve brought along for the purpose.

    Farmers’ Markets would be another great source of groceries.

    Paula (Hamilton)

    All the best for your year! I can’t wait to see how things go. =)


  4. Hey guys

    I do a monday morning (9.30am) radio show on Plains FM in Christchurch FM 96.9. I wondered if you might do a 15 minute slot next week – June 23? We can give you a podcast of it to put on your site!



    Sure, I’ll email you.


  5. Hi, you mentioned Creative Junk in your information above and I wanted to let people know that this wonderful resource for Christchurch has moved and is non located at 25 Disraeli Street, Addington ph 3794040. They are open Wed, Thurs, Fri 11am – 5pm and Saturday 10am – 1pm.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s