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“You can eat something if you want!” A worker yells from the door of his tractor when he sees me staring at the bins upon bins of fruit. Lemons and mandarins, as befits the season.
These fruits will not be heading to supermarket shelves. The worker is dumping them.
The bins are emptied, yellow and orange fruits tumbling out onto the muddy ground. All of it simply wasted.

Text Box: Bins of mandarins waiting to be dumped. Behind these, there are many more bins of fruit. At the back of this Gisborne pack house, the sickly sweet stench hits me first.
This smell comes from piles of discarded fruit, left to lie in an empty space the size of a greenhouse.
It almost looks pretty from far away. Looking closer, it is revealed that most of these lemons and mandarins are fine. Sure, there is the odd fruit tainted by rot, but most are free from rot or broken skins. Yet they are simply dumped out the back, wasted.

The manager of this pack house says this is because these fruits do not meet the consumer standard.
“There are physiological reasons, like the breakdown of skins, and cosmetic damage… more damage than the grade standard allows.”
The fruit, while juicy on the inside, is imperfect on the outside, so cannot be sold on supermarket shelves.
Much of it can still be eaten – confirmed by the worker inviting me to eat some.
I do and find that most of the fruit is indeed perfectly edible.
Yet with these imperfections, they cannot be sold commercially. With no other options, they are dumped out back and left to fester in the sun. 

When you consider that agriculture and horticulture are two of the biggest industries in Gisborne, this problem could be much bigger than the bins of fruit discarded at this pack house.

Text Box: Bins of lemons to be dumped. A sustainable society is one where waste is avoided to all extents – including food waste.
In a country that is aiming for sustainability, there are solutions to this waste problem.
Of course, this fruit cannot simply be given away for free. The business, part of Gisborne’s biggest industries and employers, would suffer.
The solution comes in finding sustainable ways to use this imperfect fruit.
Other pack houses juice reject fruit if they have the means to.
However, this is evidently not an option for these discarded fruits.
There are programs, such as food donation services, which could serve as an avenue to reduce this waste as well as helping Gisborne people who are living in poverty.

In Tairāwhiti, approximately 50% of communities are considered highly deprived areas (Marsters, H., Shanthakumar, M., Fyfe, C., Borman, B. & Dayal, S., 2012, p. 19).
As with many places, poverty has long been a problem for the Gisborne community, with many struggling to make ends meet.
Poverty, in its absolute state, is defined as when “an individual does not have access to the amount of money necessary for meeting basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter,” defined by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Environmental issues and poverty often work hand in hand.
“We can’t lift people out of poverty if we don’t conserve the environment and natural resources they rely on. And we can’t protect the environment if we don’t address the needs of people in poverty,” states World Wildlife Foundation.
To preserve and protect the environment and achieve sustainability, we must also address the humanitarian issue of poverty. The first United Nations sustainable development goal is to end poverty in all its forms, everywhere – so to address waste issues, poverty must also be considered.
With food waste, solutions can be ones that kill two birds with one stone: while reducing waste of fruits unable to be sold on supermarket shelves, poverty may also gain some relief.

The Salvation Army, a charity service in Gisborne, is a “Recycle centre,” according to Janenne Nicolson, a community ministries team leader for the Gisborne Salvation Army Corps.
The Salvation Army receives donations of everything from furniture to blankets made of wool from old sweaters, and finds someone who needs it.
Not to mention the Food Bank. Open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Food Bank is available to whoever needs it.
“In an average week we would do 20 parcels,” Janenne tells me.
Food is made up of donations by the community: local bakeries and businesses donate leftover food, and through a relationship with Countdown people can buy food that is directly donated to the Salvation Army Food Bank.
Although the need for the service in Gisborne is no different to that in other communities she has been in, Janenne sees an increased need from seasonal workers.
“These people that, this week haven’t got the amount of money that they were expecting because of the bad weather, so there’s no money coming in, they don’t work those hours.
“And then, of course, you get their families, young kids.”
 The Food Bank sometimes gets fruit donated from people in the community, which sometimes results in volunteers going out to pick the fruit themselves.
As for citrus from pack houses that would otherwise be dumped, they have had some donations in the past.
“Usually it’s the growers themselves that will turn up with a truck out the back.”
The Salvation Army is “a hand up, not a handout,” meaning that their services are for those that need it.
The Food Bank is not a source of ‘free food’, it is somewhere for people to go if they need help.
Therefore it is not detrimental to a business to donate.
If some reject fruit that would otherwise be dumped was sent to the Salvation Army Food Bank or other food donation services in Gisborne, it would reduce the quantities of fruit wasted while contributing to the reduction of poverty within the region.

For pack houses in Gisborne that discard reject fruit, creating unnecessary waste, solutions to find more sustainable things to do with fruit that does not meet the consumer-grade standard need only be looked for.

by Ariana Hunt

In this fast-paced, evolved, society a majority of us have made online purchases, be it novels from ‘Amazon’, school supplies from ‘The Warehouse’ or clothes from mass production sites such as ‘North Beach’. Despite the fact that online shopping is generally cheaper and more efficient, the harmful impact of your online shopping on the environment is mind-boggling. This article shall shed light on why wildlife needs to be rescued from the prolific killer that is; online shopping.

Across the country, New Zealanders happen to spend roughly about $3.6 billion dollars online shopping, with the average New Zealand shopper spending $118.60 every time they bought online according to research sustained from news outlet ‘Stuff’. Although the staggering statistic may not seem frightening for all you online shoppers out there, the first and foremost issue isn’t the goods from online shopping themselves, but the cardboard box they come in. As many parcels do, online shopping tends to venture from the United States. However, in the United States alone, 35.4 million tons of containerboard were produced in 2014. In spite of this fact, the fastest-growing contributors to this pile of cardboard are ecommerce companies. Whilst most cardboard can be recycled, a large majority of cardboard ends up in harmful places such as a landfill or even dumped on the side of the road for wildlife to call ‘home’. In nations including New Zealand, the recycling record is less impressive, and society’s demand for cardboard boxes is rapidly increasing at a rate our waste management services cannot keep up with. A quote produced by Ardeshi Faghri from the University of Delaware has commented that “Online shopping has not helped the environment… it has made it worse.” Realistically commenting on the damaging effects that we are blindsided with the effect of online shopping through the distraction of efficient shipping. Although, adding to the huge amount of cardboard waste produced, the mammoth amounts of Styrofoam, plastic coverings and cellophane tape found inside the typical parcel are creating an ever-growing problem to the grand issue.

Furthermore, as mentioned earlier the silent killer of New Zealand’s wildlife is the expansive usage of Styrofoam, plastic coverings, sticky tape and other bits and pieces found inside the typical package. In New Zealand, more than 25,000 kilograms of plastic waste is littered daily, how much of this is really due to online shopping? Ultimately in New Zealand, 100,000 animals die every year after ingesting or becoming entangled in disposable plastic materials; commonly found in online packaging. Due to poor disposal of plastic packaging, a devastating impact has occurred on marine wildlife such as whales, seals, sea birds, turtles and not to mention the significant coastline life such as muscles that produce an exponential profit. Every person, school or business who has ever online shopped has noticed the excessive use of Styrofoam within their parcel, nevertheless these e-commerce companies must know the downsides of Styrofoam usage. Styrofoam is a non-biodegradable material released into a society that appears to ‘last forever’. Basically, Styrofoam is resistant to photolysis which is the breaking down of materials by photons originating from light. This combined with the fact that Styrofoam floats, means that large amounts of polystyrene have accumulated along the coastlines and waterways around the globe. An example produced by Online shopping excess provided by ‘Stylebees.com’ plastic affecting wildlife is that one incident in New Zealand, a turtle was found to have 224 bits of plastic in its stomach. Additionally, at least 44 percent of marine bird species are known to eat plastic. This may correlate to goal 14 of the United Nations sustainable development program with the focus of ‘Life Below Water’. Summarising goal 14, over 3 billion people around the globe depend on marine life and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. The SDGs aim to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution, as well as address the impacts of ocean acidification. Enhancing the conservation and the sustainable use of ocean-based resources through international law will also help minimise some of the challenges facing our oceans.

Moreover, because global pollution is doubling every eleven years, we as a futuristic society must think about possible solutions rapidly. In order to reduce the daily outflow of unnecessary Styrofoam, plastic and a vast amount of cardboard we have to reduce the excessive amount of online shopping. Try and list one person who has never online shopped. Impossible right? Schools, companies and even yourself use the advantages of online shopping. Solutions to this include, locally owned businesses can make more local purchases, requiring less transportation and less usage of Styrofoam packing. Shopping local may also mean that you’re vigorously supporting the people who live in your community, allowing you to boost the economy of your area. Bottom line, in my local area ‘Hibiscus Coast’ we are heavily reducing the amount of waste produced by online shopping through the usage of markets. These markets include the ‘Silverdale Village Market’, ‘Orewa Artisan Market’ plus many more markets that help reduce online shopping pollution through locally renowned sources. More specifically the Orewa artisan market provides quality artisanal products made from hand using brand new, recycled and upcycled materials. An extremely sustainable choice in comparison to online shopping. Overall, this relates to goal 12 of the United Nations Sustainable Development program which is ‘responsible consumption and production’. Achieving economic growth and sustainable development requires that we as a whole urgently reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources such as online shopping excess replaced with local markets.

At this point in time, although the government and more specifically Jacinda Ardern have not proposed any change to online shopping excess. However, through the plastic bag ban, we as a country are slowly but surely implementing goal 12 of the United Nations SDGs that ensures responsible consumption and production of all resources. Mai i te Kōpae ki te Urupa tātou ako tonu ai. From the cradle to the grave we are forever learning.

Author: Ariana Hunt, Year 9, Whangaparaoa College