Our District

Pro tips for Plastic Free living

Trying to make a difference amid the tide of modern disposable plastic felt a bit like being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, say Rachel Benefield. She was unable to stop the onslaught of plastic in her life until she found a solution when attending one of the Rubbish Trip’s Zero Waste talks.

She and her family have since been passionate advocates of the Zero Waste movement, and have dramatically reduced their plastic waste. Rachel is combining her artistic talents and activist drive to share with others the hows and whys of plastic free living.

July was a busy month. Having sussed out and sustained shopping plastic free in Kāpiti, Rachel shared her journey speaking at the “Food For Thought’ the Community Meal/Pecha Kucha speakers evening, held as part of No8 Wire Week.  Pecha Kucha, Japanese for 'Chit Chat', is the name of a global speaking event where people present twenty slides with twenty seconds to speak about each one.

Rachel has since turned her talk into an infomercial style summary of the talk on youtube, shared on her new ‘Plastic Free Kāpiti’ facebook group. She also convinced Common Sense Organics to put their compostable packaged toilet paper and bamboo toothbrushes on sale in support of Plastic Free July and had some big conversations with Pak'n Save about phasing out their plastic bags. Direct action has never been easier she says!

Here are some of Rachel’s pro tips and ideas for Plastic Free living from her Pecha Kucha slides. (or better yet hear it from her here):

Plastic is an almost perfect molecule that is near impossible to break down, and so every piece of plastic ever produced is still somewhere on the planet. There is no ‘off the planet’ to throw things to.
Plastic production is a multi billion dollar business, supermarkets restock their shelves 24/7, everything you can see on the shelves is heading out the door that day to be disposed of somewhere in the environment.

The  solution is in the five R’s:

  • Refuse what you don't need and replace it
  • Reduce what you do need
  • Reuse plastic containers and refill them,
  • Recycle
  • Rot
With a shift in mindset it is relatively easy to shop plastic free in Kāpiti, by visiting Bin Inn, Common Sense, Co-ops, Bakeries and Butchers. It just requires taking your own bags and containers.
There are side effects of a plastic free lifestyle, being healthier and happier!  Avoiding packaging also means cutting out highly processed food and much less hidden sugar, salt, palm oil and other nasties. And saving money - Rachel estimates they are saving around $200/month. And there’s no rubbish to put out.

Discovering how easy it is to live without plastic and the fringe benefits have made Rachel determined to spread the word. Never underestimate the power of your purchasing, she says - 6% of a population can cause a revolution in thinking and behaviour. And nowadays direct action has never been easier: you can easily email or tweet a supermarket or producer and encourage them to drop their plastic packaging. 

Finally, if you think your children aren't passionate about the environment, think again - Rachel and partner Albert’s youngest family member is their staunchest supporter. The Zero Waste movement is for our tamariki. “Let’s look the next generation in the eye and say - ‘I did my best, I was part of the zero waste revolution”.