Week nine: Is waste free a waste of time?

Two months into our challenge and we are starting to generate enough interest that even people who don’t give a toss about their rubbish are starting to talk about ours. One media critic said our blog was enough rubbish for one year and pointed out that even if there were 1000 more Kate Valley landfills the area would still be less than 1% of the South Island. Another guy has started a rubbish bag a day group on Facebook to counter our Rubbish Free Year Challenge group! Ha! So our adversaries are both witty and creative. I am sure there are plenty of people out there who agree with them, the question is why? Has this become our religion that people feel the need to defend their way of thinking against it? We never did say that we were campaigning against landfills specifically or that the act of throwing out your dental floss made you some sort of enemy of the peace. We know that there are bigger things to worry about and that we are all on different journeys. Yet for us the Rubbish Free Year is addressing something big. Let me explain. We didn’t start with a passion for rubbish reduction but with a frustration at the way we lived and the system that we lived in.

Taken from our website: rubbishfree.co.nz>home>why focus on rubbish: With a growing awareness of the ethical and ecological disaster that were part of Matthew and I pondered what to do when the solution is difficult, complicated and scary. Being ‘ethical’ was way too huge (and vague) for types as uninformed as ourselves, and narrowing it down to consuming ethically was still overwhelming: is this can of beans/ pair of jeans / dog toy etc produced in harmony with the planet and all humankind? Who owns the parent company and do they invest in the arms trade/ fell rain forests etc? We definitely lacked the time and resources to figure all that out. But the alternative – apathy – annoyed us. In response to the stalemate we somehow came up with the “The Rubbish Free Challenge”. It was smaller and finite, and gave us a simple, tangible question that we could answer ourselves: Will this item (packaging included) contribute to the Landfill?

While the challenge ignores the complexity of whether a product is ultimately a good thing for our world and doesn’t address aspects of lifestyle, it has put the power in our hands, and frequently channels us into the positive paradigm we were trying to connect with. We support local farmers at the farmers market. We support small local business as we seek to return and reuse containers. We buy fair trade and ecologically friendly alternatives because the packaging is usually biodegradable or recyclable. We feel better off for eating fresh, whole foods. We discover community when talk with the butcher or neighbours who we share bulk tofu with or friends when we swap home made relish for jam. Yes, we actually enjoy living rubbish free, and you can’t argue with that!