Waste is everything that we do not use and that we throw away. The WRT vision is a waste free world, because to us, waste is a resource that communities should be getting as much value out of as possible. We can reduce waste in our homes by making some very easy changes…
Whenever you buy over-packaged or disposable products, you're essentially buying rubbish. Every year, each of us produces nearly 400 kilos of rubbish, most of which still goes to landfill.
We are recycling more, which is great, but there's an even more effective way to cut down on waste:
It’s amazing how many things can be properly recycled; even electronics and tires. Recycling is the recovery of useful materials, such as paper, glass, plastic, and metals, from the trash to use to make new products, reducing the amount of new raw materials needed.
On Waiheke there are three ways to recycle: bags collected at the kerbside, hand-sorting at the Transfer station or a bin on the kerbside.
Separate all the items below and put into a used shopping bag or recycling bin
Your normal household batteries are hazardous waste and if they end up in the landfill leach all sorts of toxic material.
Dispose of your unwanted household batteries by dropping them in the bins located at the WRT office at Artworks in Oneroa, the Hazardous Waste bins at thetransfer station in Ostend, Gulf Sound and Vision in Belgium Street, Ostend, and Placemakers in Ostend beside the supermarket.
The batteries are all sent to the Auckland Regional Council’s Haz-Mobile and the recyclable batteries are separated from the non-recyclable ones. The recyclable ones are sent to France for re manufacturing while the non-recyclable ones are encased in concrete to stop them leaching before being buried in landfills.
There are drop off boxes for toners and ink jet cartridges at our office at Artworks; New Generation in Tahi Road Ostend; Waiheke Primary School; Waiheke High School and Te Huruhi Primary School as well as Gulf Sound and Vision in Ostend, by the recycling bins at the transfer station, and The Citizens Advice Bureau in Oneroa.
The full boxes of toners/ink jet cartridges are sent to a toner recycling company in Auckland. When they receive them they are either re-manufactured or broken down into their component parts for re-use. The plastic for example is used for the construction of letterboxes and outdoor furniture.
Cell phones and their accompanying equipment are part of a burgeoning waste stream known as e-waste – a shorthand form for ‘electronic waste’ which when buried in landfills can be toxic.
On Waiheke, Gulf Sound and Vision and the transfer station in Ostend will take all cell phones and batteries and charging equipment.
Vodaphone New Zealand have a system where they will receive all and any cell phone equipment (not just their own). The equipment is broken down and where possible fixed for re-use. The recyclable components are used for making plastic cones, buckets and copper pipe.
Recycling organic materials - Composting
Composting is good on lots of levels: it recycles organic garden material, food scraps and paper and in the process turns these into a valuable product for your garden. It reduces the harmful effects of organic waste going to landfill – water pollution, build up of the greenhouse gas methane and bad smells!
Best of all, composting also saves you money because you won’t have to buy compost to use in the garden. Composting is easy and there are systems to suit everyone. Here are three options for composting at your household.
The Waiheke Resources Trust can advise you on composting so feel free to drop by to the Waiheke Resource Centre at Artworks. Garden waste can also be composted or you can drop it off at the transfer station in Ostend.
Bokashi composting was invented in Japan for people living in small apartments. It takes up very little space and doesn’t smell. A Bokashi system consists of two buckets – the top buckets has a tight fitting lid and holes in the bottom so that it can drain into the second bucket. The system uses an additive made from sawdust inoculated with effective micro-organisms called Compost-Zing. This is added to the bucket at regular intervals and pickles the food waste.
The advantages of Bokashi are that they are compact and will take types of scraps that other composting systems don’t like: meat and fish scraps as well as dairy products. The liquid that does drain into the bottom bucket is very valuable: empty the bucket every week and either use it as a liquid fertilizer for your vege garden (dilute it with water first) or flush it down the toilet! The micro-organisms in the liquid eat through the solids in your septic tank, and can reduce septic tanks smells.
To start your Bokashi composting sprinkle a tablespoon of Compost-Zing into the top bucket. Tip well drained food scraps into the bucket, adding 1 tablespoon of Compost-Zing per litre of food scraps. Push down the scraps with a potato masher to release air and then close the lid firmly. Continue this process until the bucket is full, then close the lid and put the bucket in a warm place out of direct sunlight and leave for 2 weeks. The ‘pickled’ scraps can then be dug into your garden where they will break down in around four weeks. Make sure you regularly drain the liquid from the bottom bucket – if you don’t it will start to smell.
The Waiheke Resource Trust sells a variety of Bokashi products:
19l Recycled Bucket set (including 1kg Zing) $25 each
15l Set (including 1kg Zing) $48 each
1kg Zing $8.50 each
5kg Zing $35 each
Replacement lids $7 each
EM liquid $30 each
This is the traditional Kiwi way of composting. It involves piling layers of organic waste into a bin or pile. Worms, insects and micro-organisms turn the waste into a rich soil (compost) which is then used on your garden. You can buy bins or make your own – you may even be able to pick up a second hand bin on the island. Bins should be at least 1m high, wide and deep.
Compost bins need plenty of warmth (sun), water and air so the first thing you will need to do is find a suitable spot in your garden. This should be accessible from the house so that it is easy to get to when you need to empty your food scraps into it and should be warm and sheltered from the wind. Your bin should be covered with a lid or a tarpaulin to keep it warm and keep rodents out.
Composting is like making a lasagna but instead of layering pasta, meat, and veges you will need to layer green (nitrogen rich and wet) and brown (carbon-rich and dry) material alternately.
Place your bin over freshly mown lawn or straight on bare earth. Start your compost heap with a layer of coarsely chopped twigs and thin sticks. Then alternate 10-15cm layers of green and brown matter. If you can’t be bothered alternating layers, just make sure you put in equal amounts of both. To get lots of air into your compost heap use a pitchfork every couple of weeks to turn everything over.
Once your heap is 1m high, you can stop using it and move onto another bin or heap. If you only have one bin, take this off the existing pile and cover the old heap with a tarpaulin to keep it warm. Depending on conditions and how often you turn your heap, your compost will be ready in as little as 8 weeks or as long as 18 months. You’ll know when it’s ready because you won’t be able to distinguish the original ingredients and the mix will be dark and crumbly and should smell like rich soil.
Worm farming is a bit like composting except the worms digest the food and turn it into a rich nutrient–dense compost (made of vermicast or worm poo) and worm tea (the liquid that comes out of the worm farm. Both of these products are excellent fertilisers for your garden.
Worm farms are ideal for people that have mostly food scraps to compost and for houses with little outdoor space.
Worms need air but don’t like light or too much wind or rain. You can buy a ready-to-go worm farm along with a starter group of worms or you can make your own. To get your worm farm started place down a 10cm layer of bedding (shredded cardboard, old carpet, paper or hay) in the top container, dampen with water and then add tiger worms (250g-500g of worms is ideal). Add food and cover scraps with a layer of damp newspaper.
Don’t overfeed. 250g of worms will eat around 200g of scraps per day. If you feed too much, uneaten food will rot and get smelly. Worms also like damp but not wet conditions. If the container is looking dry add a small amount of water
When the first container gets full, add a new layer on top and start again with bedding and then food scraps. The worms will migrate up to the next layer when they are ready. In 2-3 months, the bottom layer of vermicast should have very few worms left in it. It is then ready to be harvested and used as compost in your garden. Check for liquid in the bottom of the worm farm every couple of weeks. The worm liquid can be taken out and used as a liquid fertilizer in your garden. It should be diluted first (about 1:10) so it is the colour of weak tea.
Over time your worms will breed. When you have too many worms in one farm you can give some excess worms to a friend to start their own worm farm or start another one of your own.