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Thursday, April 19th, 2012 by Admin
Styrofoam.. Probably the most pointless substance in the world (except when it comes down to packaging your valuables) can be so damn hard to get rid of in an environmentally friendly manners. Here is an awesome blog about the “do’s” and “don’ts” of getting rid of styrofoam, but I would love to hear your ideas about what we should do with the substance.
Styrofoam, made from polysterene, is petrol based and is bad bad bad! Those innocent little styrofoam baubles and cups contain carcinogens. Now how happy are you with them getting up close and personal with your food and your food appliances?
A box filled with environmental evil...
Not only is styrofoam bad for you, its bad for the environment! It doesn’t bio-degrade, it creates huge amounts of air pollution and it is made from a non-renewable resource!
So what can we do about it?
Well we can say no… but then if your toaster breaks and you need a new one then it is still going to be packaged in styrofoam. So while we can try to change the behaviour of those around us by switching styrofoam cups to keep-cups or mugs that are washed, there really needs to be changed.
What can we use for packaging in place of styrofoam, that still is light weight, to keep shipping costs down, while offering enough protection to fragile items? get your thinking caps on and share your ideas!
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 by Admin
Through the Woods by Ben Petreath
January is typically the month of reviewing the year that has been and thinking about the year to come. For some businesses it’s about their strategies and how they are tracking against budget and goal achievement (or creating new strategies), for individuals it’s about setting new goals and resolutions. So, last Friday I found myself thinking about how the year was looking for SIFT and then did some general Internet surfing (do we still surf the internet?) around the key themes and trends that others were discussing for 2011.
It seems like 2011 could be the best year yet for sustainable, low impact, healthy earth living. There are many more people consciously thinking about how they live, consume and waste. Most feel that you need to reevaluate, simplify and consume less first to then be able to live a life with more abundance (not stuff but good experiences – actually living life not living life through buying!). That less is better. This is positive.
It is definitely something we have talked about at SIFT. The need for less in order to be more. We have enough. There is a need to be consciously more grateful and really live a life aligned with our values. This will mean continuing to make changes to habits that have been ingrained in us for years (like changing from plastic to other non-disposable products, making your own skincare and homecare, growing your own food, spending more time in your community). It will still be a challenge for some but also super exciting to see a growing number of people thinking and changing. There is hope. Just imagine all of the wonderful solutions that have yet to be thought of and created.
Here are some of the other themes and trends for 2011 I found:
- Slow Living – living a mindful life, slow working, slow food and generally just taking the time to breathe and be human. More here.
- Moving from ownership to accessibility (sharing more) – do we all need our own lawnmowers, power tools, tents (just examples) – why not share. Less waste from this too! Like Zilok.
- Co-working (many businesses working in the same space. With the technology we have all we need is a desk really). More here. This allows for more flexibility and nimbleness as an organisation.
- Bikes. Yay bikes! More and more bikes. I think many would love Christchurch to be more bike friendly and there is a definite need in New Zealand for more access to European style urban bikes that many are loving in the UK, US and Europe. Like these. Some believe bikes will “save us”. They will keep us healthy, help us to be in our communities and reduce our carbon emissions massively. Frocks on Bikes is a good example of growing interest in this. Another favourite is Copenhagen Cycle Chic.
- Creativity & Amateur Design. Like Etsy and Felt and DIY and MIY (make it yourself) at home. And the Self Repair Manifesto. This comes from self-responsibility for who we are and the impact we have as well as a desire to feel more fully each day in our lives.
- Minimalism and maximalism. Separately and both at the same time. A move to reduce the amount of stuff you own (like the 100 thing challenge) while at the same time living a life of more. More genuine, authentic life experiences. This is what is important not stuff. More here and here. Nick Potter from Re-Be writes more on this here and discusses this article on Less is More by the NZ Herald’s Rebecca Barry.
- For textiles and clothing it will be about buying quality vintage or second hand clothing, refashioning and repurposing, ethical clothing and sustainable textiles as well as the trend to shopping from your own wardrobe. This will drastically reduce the amount of textile waste. And also more technology to recycle the clothing that we no longer want.
- Consumer responsibility. Be conscious about what you buy and where from (ask questions about the manufacturing, packaging, waste disposal, environment and social impacts of that product’s production). Can you buy something else for equal or better performance and have a better outcome for those who made it and the environment? Also consumer responsibility is about demanding change from the producers, manufacturers, importers and retailers. Ask, ring, write, step up and take responsibility. Like – Can chip packets come in other packaging that can be recycled or composted? We know there are solutions to styrofoam meat trays so why aren’t more people using them (or not using them at all!)? And if cow’s milk can come in plastic (recyclable) containers why can’t other forms of milk (instead of the unrecyclable tetrapak)? Or why not go back to reusable glass milk bottles…at the supermarket! Also, don’t forget to support your local farmer’s market.
- Producer Responsibility. On from consumer responsibility is producer responsibility (also called Product Stewardship Schemes – like the Agpac Plasback Programme we funded). Those companies taking responsibility for the full lifecycle of their products from manufacture to disposal will find this will add to their brand value and consumer trust – we need a lot more of this. All companies need to ask how can they lessen the impact (or create a positive impact) of the products that they produce? It is now no longer okay to not do this.
- Cradle to cradle design. William McDonough and Michael Braungart wrote the book Cradle to Cradle a few years ago and some online were saying that this type of intelligent design will start to occur more this year. William McDonough and Michael Braungart talk about intelligent design, that sustainability is just the minimum to start from, that waste=food and to just eliminate the concept of waste altogether (we like this one) and that what humans produce should be life supportive and “good for all children and all species for all time”. This is where we need to head to now. A good video on this here.
- Collective Impact & Collaboration. The key to making the changes that need to be made for a healthy earth future is lots of little actions all connected, for lots of organisations of different types to come together with individuals and communities to achieve a single goal. We can’t do it on our own.
- The widening of kindness and generosity. Moving from thinking about your small sphere of family and friends to how your actions impact your community, the communities and people of those who make what you buy, eco systems and other species. Moving from disconnect to a realisation that we are all connected (even if that link isn’t recognisable) and we are nature. What we do will ultimately impact on us.
- Green Economics and total costing. There will be progress towards including all of the costs of each aspect of a products lifecyle from production to disposal and the environmental impacts in the cost of buying that product. For many products this will show that buying local is a lot cheaper than imported. This will help to develop green technologies and the ability for those working in unsustainable industries and jobs to move to sustainable jobs.
- Redesign & Regeneration – It’s coming together but it looks like a redesigning of how our societies operate and what we value as communities and individuals is starting to emerge. Slowly. Very slowly. But there is a future. We will also start to place more emphasis on regeneration of the eco systems and species that have been depleted (many now lots) like sustainable fishing for fish for the future.
So, that is just some of what I found last week. Many of these elements we will need to foster, encourage and expand across all people in order to meet the challenges that we will face in the coming decades (two big ones – Climate Change and the Economy). SIFT will be involved in many elements from collaboration with other organisations, funding new R&D for new technologies to reduce waste through utilising recovered materials before they get dumped or creating new products that don’t get wasted. We will be keeping an eye on how things are trending across the globe.
*On the statement “We have enough” this is more about the resources we already have and should be using more efficiently and distributing more fairly.
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 by SophieR
This Saturday is e-Day, dedicated to the collection of recycling of electronic waste. We have received many emails this week from our many affiliates, a very positive indication that more companies are taking an active role in recycling office products. An email from our web provider ‘Hairy Lemon’, generously offers to collect their clients e-waste from your business on the Friday prior. However, not all e waste is of equal importance, the focus of e Day is on computer equipment and technology related to computer, game consoles, cell phones and fax machines. Televisions, stereos and software will not be welcome.
A little bit of info about e-waste. The consumer market is rife with electronic items, that have a relatively short shelf life (less than 5 years on average) – we want the latest editions with the fastest and biggest capacity to hold more data. Not surprisingly, e waste represents the fastest growing waste stream in the world. The stats in New Zealand are quite amazing as well – with 80,000 tonnes of e waste sent to landfill every year.
Currently, there is no legislation or industry related action to deal with e-waste, however there are some smaller local initiatives that will help you dispose of unwanted technology.
Until there is a permanent watch dog in this industry, or the development of product stewardship schemes, e-Day serves a fantastic annual service, by promoting the serious effects of electronic waste, and that there are other options that throwing your old computer straight into landfill.
You can read more about e-Day here and find out what can be disposed of.
If you are happy to drop off your own equipment, the disposal point is CPIT Student carpark, between 9am and 3pm on Saturday 6th November.
Friday, October 29th, 2010 by SophieR
It is a grey day in Christchurch. Typical of the spring season, we have one beauty of a day, followed by overcast skies and drizzle. Not to worry, the weekend has rolled around again even though I do feel slightly short changed that we don’t get another three day weekend! This week’s Friday favs cover an eclectic range of topics – but I did really enjoy viewing Alain Delorme’s photos. Art and the environment are such a complimentary duo – sometimes the only way to get a point across is through visual explanation, as Delorme has demonstrated the process of mass consumption in his images. Enjoy.
The images in his Totems Series look at the complexities of Chinese society and the concept of the market economy. This is demonstrated through a series of exaggerated and manipulated images that show a variety of burdening loads being carried to what we assume would be the market or for direct sale. The series demonstrates the way the Chinese economy is diversifying, and yet there is still such a strong presence of the migrant worker. Read all about it on the Black Eiffel Blog.
Green Burials – A slightly different take on death.
Beth Terry at fakeplasticfish.com is considering greener methods of burial. Thinking outside of the traditional casket feels like an almost taboo subject, as the burial process for a loved one is such a symbolic process ie: choosing an expensive wooden casket with the pilowed interior is like the final way to pamper someone, so to look at the forms of burial suggested by Terry, may be a little overwhelming for some people. Terry’s ideals are straight forward – why is it necessary to have coffins that have been developed to resist moisture and wont compose? There is even a coffin that is entirely plastic, which is cheaper than a wooden coffin, but think of the emissions resulting from making the coffins as well as having it buried under ground. I would recommend reading this blog, it really questions what has been long considered a standard Western practice.
What to do with old Digital technology
Here is a list of all the things you can do with obsolete digital technology. Visit the re-nest website to have a read.
Change in regulation by Enviro Minister
We are please to see that there has been a regulation reversal, put into force by Nick Smith. The last Labour government made the decision that all household products needed to have childproof caps – to ensure the safety of young children. Nick Smith determined that this was a brazen decision, that did not take into account the extra cost for consumers and the environment. Click here to read the entire press release.
Thursday, October 28th, 2010 by SophieR
O-I is a big company. Huge in fact. It is the leading manufacturer of glass products in the World. With 22,000 employees across 21 countries, it’s scope covers the majority of the globe.
The glass products have been designed for the food and beverage industry – to maintain the purity and flavour of the product within. The success of the company since it formed in 1903 has largely been credited to the fact that the Owens’ invented the automatic bottlemaking machine. This meant that production could increase and bottles of all shapes and capacity could be made. Something as simple as the shape of a bottle has so intricately worked its way into marketing, think Coca Cola, perfume, cosmetics – the shape of the packaging is almost as important and symbolic as the contents.
O-I have taken some leading steps in sustainability and resource responsibility as well. The company responded to the pressure that was being placed on the manufacturing industry to report on the life cycle of products. So O-I started the Life Cycle Assessment that demonstrated exactly what occurred from he extraction of raw materials to the reuse or recycling of the container. As with all LCA studies, O-I could then calculate the carbon emissions generated by each phase in a product’s life cycle.
This is the first assessment process in the industry that reports stage by stage carbon impacts – as there is little regulation requiring companies to fully report emissions.
The major achievement of the O-I life cycle assessment is that it takes into account remainder of the product’s life cycle – the transportation of finished products to distributors and retailers, use by consumers and reuse, recycling or disposal of material.
The benefits of having a life cycle assessment, is that O-I can now amend any practices at any given production or distribution phase – therefore making each phase far more efficient and environmentally friendly. For example, by establishing that recycling glass uses less energy than producing glass from raw materials, O-I was able to generate enough savings to completely offset the emissions produced by our finished goods transportation.
To read more about Owens Illinois, visit the website here.
Friday, October 22nd, 2010 by SophieR
Yet another week is over, and I do believe that it is nine weeks until Christmas (exciting or doom pending – depending on your level of Xmas spirit). I always think that Labour Weekend is perfectly timed in the Calendar, arriving just before we hit the busiest time of the year. To take some of the stress off, there are plenty of festivities and concerts on in Canterbury over the long weekend. Head to Hagley Park between 1pm and 8pm on Saturday, to catch a glimpse of some of New Zealand’s biggest music names, all to raise funds following the earthquake. There is the Rangiora A & P show, and also the Big Band Festival. Plenty of activities to get you out and about this weekend.
We are a patriotic bunch. One eyed Cantabrians, truly believing that we have ‘one up’ on the rest of NZ. So I really like it when outsiders compliment our wonderful city. I like it even more when the outsider is Saatchi CEO, Kevin Roberts. A feel – good blog, smile as he waxes eloquently about our marvelous Hagley Park and Botanical Gardens. Gosh we are a lucky lot. Click Here.
Making organic dairy products hip. A two minute advertisement that we found through the Futerra Sustainability Communications blog. Never did we think that a rap song would preach the benefits of organic dairy products. Look for the head bobbing cows. You will not be able to watch this without a smile on your face.
Annie Leonard’s Stuff for Kid’s Series – These videos are seriously cool. They take quite complex ideas such as recycling, and materialism – and convert it into short cartoon videos that are simple enough for little people to understand, but can still be enjoyed by big kids too.
Finally, the vuvuzela may actually become more resourceful than annoying. One competition that aims to find the most creative way to recycle the Football World Cup noise makers. Click here to see some of the ideas.
WWF has released the 2010 Living Planet Report. The conclusions are quite simple really, our demands are exceeding Earth’s capacity to sustain us. This is a great resource to show what we are using, how we compare to other countries, and what we can start doing better today.
Brazilian designers are paving the way for innovative homeware, with a collection made from entirely recycled aluminium. 98% of aluminium produced is recycled, and it is cheaper to produce a ton of recycled aluminium than it is the produce the same amount of new aluminium.
It has been a busy time at the beehive lately – we have three fantastic links for you. One is the speech made by Nick Smith at the 2010 WasteMINZ conference last week, where he launched the 2010 waste strategy. Click Here to link directly to the Waste Strategy Report. We also have a press release from the Environment Minister, outlining the recycling initiative for the 2011 Rugby World Cup
A realistic take on our recycling efforts. We may be collecting more recycling waste, but how much of it is actually being recycled once it leaves the curbside? According to this article, it all comes down to our mingling of recyclable items.
I like to think I am creative. Sometimes my creative projects end up in the back of the cupboard or in the garage. Luckily, we came across re-nest.com – full of awesome ideas to reuse house hold items – and eco-revitalise your house. The wire-hanger idea is just too cool.
Lessons in consumerism – No this isn’t a blog teaching you how to become a better shopper. The writer has returned from travels in India, with a fresh outlook on Western consumerism and what we deem to be luxuries versus life necessities.
Friday, October 15th, 2010 by SophieR
This weeks favourites: All things Kiwi
I have had the priviledge of receiving a very large tub of home-made organic Kanuka honey. I think that is a hobby that should be given our support – the bee’s do some pretty good pollination work, and the output of their hard work is the delicious golden stuff, that I have to admit – I do eat with a teaspoon! Support local beekeepers or learn the trade yourself!
I realize that this is Auckland based, but perhaps this could stand as a testament to Canterbury holding a Green Film Festival in the future:Each film in the festival has been chosen for its relevance to Auckland’s environmental challenges.
Felt crafters have donated all the items to be sold – with proceeds going to the Red Cross Canterbury Appeal. Some truly talented artists.
I had to mention this one – If you are into vintage glam, you are really going to dig this website! This online shop completely eliminates any preconceived notions that second hand clothes are drab or uncool. The only downside – there are stores every where but Christchurch! In the meantime, if you are travelling around New Zealand, keep an eye out for one of the stores.
Let the kids eat dirt!
Well perhaps not literally, but I was pleased to read an article in Good Magazine that stated that Kiwi parents are rebelling against cotton wool parenting. The new trend is being called ‘free range parenting’. Perhaps kiwi parents will pioneer the cause, that fresh air and time outdoors really is more beneficial than indoor play.
Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 by SophieR
Educating communities on sustainability is one of the core aims of the Sustainable Initiatives Fund Trust. Whether it be how to change what and how we consume, how to adopt new sustainable practices within industry, or communicating sustainable developments and innovation. SIFT has been a longtime supporter of the Untouched World Charitable Trust as they developed the Tiromoana Programme in Canterbury. The programme focused on educating 16 and 17 year olds, in a week long intensive camp. The teaching was focused on exploring the processes of consumption and the life cycles of the materials we use every day. The objective was to demonstrate how it is necessary to be consider sustainable means of consumption and production so that the same resources will be available for future generations to enjoy. The Programme was used as a legacy item for the future development of teaching materials in schools.
There are many resources that can be utilised by parents and teachers, to get children thinking about waste management and recycling:
NZ Forest and Bird
Zero Waste New Zealand Trust
Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 by SophieR
As Christchurch works through day five, post earthquake, demolition of some of our most precious heritage sites is underway. Along with these heritage sites is the purposeful demolition of buildings of less historical importance, but ones that acted as landmarks within the inner suburbs.
Broken mortar, bricks, aluminum, glass, plastic piping, drains, concrete and the silt resulting from liquefaction – the next step will be figuring where all this useless material will be disposed. Certainly in times of emergency, recycling or careful disposal of building waste becomes irrelevant, as the priority remains clearing the streets of dangerous debris for the inhabitants of the city.
Is there room for future deliberation of how we dispose / recycle demolition waste when there is an emergency situation such as the events of 4th September 2010?
There has been 17,000 claims made to EQC of house damage* and with the estimated cost climbing over $1 billion, the focus will no doubt turn to restoring or rebuilding as quickly and cheaply as possible. There will be an impact on Christchurch’s waste stream, but as with most post earthquake processes, the extent and repercussions of the damage will reveal itself in the months and years to come.
Rubble from Christchurch Earthquake
* Information sourced from www.stuff.co.nz
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