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Keep NZ Beautiful

By Audrey Anna

Milk in plastic bottles is found at nearly every gas station, dairy or supermarket in New Zealand – basically around every corner. Single-use plastic is a threat to our environment. We have to become aware of our options and alternatives to Keep New Zealand Beautiful!

Altogether, the majority of our plastic milk bottles are going into recycling but when looking at the number of bottles not getting recycled, it can be quite scary.

(1) New Zealand consumes the 3rd highest amount of fresh white milk per capita in the world. (1) Roughly, two hundred, two-litre bottles of milk are sold every minute in New Zealand supermarkets – all of which are in plastic bottles or paper cartons.

(2) The estimated amount of plastic drink and milk bottles put in kiwi household rubbish bins every year, instead of recycling bins, is ninety-seven million. But, most kiwi’s don’t take the second to consider the consequences to the environment before placing them there. The World needs to consider ways to avoid wasting so much plastic, especially single-use, which simply just goes into landfills.

I surveyed fifty-one individuals from school asking about what milk their family is buying. I’ve found that forty- five (88.2%) of their families drink milk from plastic bottles and from these families, thirteen (28.9%) of them either do not or most likely don’t recycle their milk bottles. With the average family drinking a mean of four and a half litres per week, that doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, really if there are thirteen households, not recycling, around, thirty, two-litre bottles are not being recycled each week out of only those fifty-one families, in the community. This places a question of why we even made the change in the first place.

(3) In the mid sixty’s the world was introduced to plastic milk bottles. (4) New Zealand then made the change from glass bottles to paper and plastic in the nineties. (1) Nowadays, New Zealanders are consuming 400 million litres of milk each year.

(3) But they did have multiple reasons why they didn’t like glass bottles: milk would go bad within a day without refrigeration, hand-delivered bottles were heavy and needed to be returned for sterilization by the milkman and sometimes, with a little bit of clumsiness, glass bottles break. Then, of course, there are solutions to deal with problems.

With the brains and technology in today’s world, there are so many options to be thought of. If we work together, the problems we will face will be gone. The last glass milk bottles used was thirty years ago. Now we can make a system better and stronger.

In Hawkes Bay, there are multiple companies selling milk in glass bottles – just like the good old days. (5) This happened since Kirsten Wise, Napier Mayor, launched returnable and reusable glass milk bottles, in November 2020. One of which is Hohepa.

(5) Since 1957, Hohepa has provided employment and residential opportunities for those living with intellectual disabilities and now they have brought back milk in glass bottles. (6) A goal of Hohepa’s had been to move away from plastics to make it more sustainable, as they think the last bottles they had were inefficient. (6) They produce 500 bottles of milk a week, which sell at five different locations in Hawkes Bay. (6) They hope to start deliveries to homes in Hawkes Bay by the end of this year.

(7) Another company looking for a change to reduce the use of single-use plastic milk bottles in Hawke’s Bay is Origin Earth. (7) Origin Earth has teamed up with cafes, businesses and schools who are using large quantities of milk, ever since 2018. (7) So far they have around thirty Waste Reduction Partners. (7) They are changing their ways and fighting for a difference, just as we should.

We have opinions and alternatives that need to be considered. Single-use plastic is ruining our environment and becoming not an option

anymore. Milk bottles are not the only thing we need to change, they are just one of many. The world needs to take a second, to think.

Bibliography

1) https://www.fonterra.com/n

z/en/our-stories/media/its-world-milk-day.html#:~:text=New%20Zealanders%20consume%20400%20million,minute%20in%20New%20Zealand%20supermarkets

2)https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/119101232/nz-homes-dispose-of-176-billion-plastic-containers-each-year-report-reveals

3)https://foodandcity.org/food-mover-paper-plastic/

4)https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/back-in-the-day-glass-milk-bottles-make-way-for-plastic-6282909

5)https://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/hohepa-hawkes-bay-in-clive-brings-back-glass-boIt’s

6)https://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/hohepa-glass-milk-bottling-plant-dedicated-by-agriculture-minister-damien-oconnor/MSS7WQPN2FTSZR6K45NTXAOADI/

7)https://www.originearth.co.nz/bulk-milk-waste-reduction-schem

By Zakeira Smith

Litter may appear to be harmless and innocent, but its not, and in reality littering is an unhealthy habit people of all ages in each country do every day. Littering becomes a habit to most people, they do it for so long and so often, that in the end they do not realize they do it. Littering of any kind affects our environment so badly, not only does it destroy the place and make everywhere look dirty and badly looked after it also has many more serious consequences.

How does litter affect us?                                   

Plastic litter affects us in many ways. The first reason being it doesn’t necessarily stay as one whole piece. Plastic can take years to decompose (For example it is estimated that plastic bottles take up to 450 years to decompose!!) As it does it breaks down into microplastics. Microplastics can be observed by all sorts of animals especially marine life. As litter decomposes, chemicals and microparticles are released. These chemicals aren’t natural to the environment and can cause multiple problems. These chemicals can end up in and pollute the soil and water, it can even pollute the air too! Another reason is that plastic litter is the most common killer of animals, especially those in the ocean. Researchers estimate that over one million animals die each year after ingesting or becoming trapped in littered rubbish. Sea turtles are one main species that suffer from plastic and litter pollution – A sea turtle only has to ingest as little as 14 pieces of plastic to have a 50% increased risk of death, but death could result from just a single piece.

Why do people litter?

Many people litter because they simply don’t care. Laziness and carelessness leads to habit of littering, many people throw rubbish anywhere without thinking of the result of their actions. They feel they are not responsible for public areas like streets and parks, and that the litter will become somebody else’s problem. A second reason why people litter is because of a lack of access to rubbish bins, most people will only walk a short distance before giving up on finding a bin. A few more bins especially in public places will help resolve this problem. Another thing that would encourage someone to litter is presence of it already in the area. This will make the person who litters feel more encouraged to litter, they will know it’s not only them littering and won’t feel so bad. The last reason is no law enforcement, if there is no law enforcement or charges for littering many people won’t care about it, they believe their actions won’t do anything and without a punishment there is nothing to make them think about what they are doing is wrong.

What are the most commonly littered items?

The most commonly littered item are cigarette butts. Each year more than 2 million cigarettes are found littering our beaches and oceans. The butts of cigarettes are not biodegradable, and one cigarette alone can contaminate 7.5 litres of water with chemicals. Plastic bottles are also common with more than 1 million plastic bottles, 860,000 plastic bottle caps, and 350,000 plastic beverage lids being found each year littering our coastlines taking an extremely long time to break down. Lastly more than 400,000 plastic grocery bags and 424,000 other types of plastic bags are collected every year. Plastic bags are remarkably dangerous for marine life. Many animals end up dying because they either get caught in the plastic or they try to eat it.

What can we do to help?

The ideal way to handle the problem of littering is for each person to take responsibility and try their best to propel dispose of litter. But here are four different ways to help our environment and stop people littering. One of them is to attend clean ups, attending clean-ups not only helps the environment but also helps make our community look better too. Another way is for public places to increase their number of bins (otherwise there is a lack of rubbish bins or extremely full/overflowing bins that don’t regularly get emptied creating another reason for people to litter.) By increasing the number of available rubbish bins and the frequency they get emptied will help avoid littering. Another helpful barrier to littering is strong laws and regulations, people are more likely to follow litter rules if there are serious laws and consequences. The last way would be to teach others (especially younger kids) about the effects littering has. Teaching others will increase what they know, hopefully increasing their understanding of the consequences of what littering does to the environment and they might think about things before they litter next time.

In conclusion littering is in no way acceptable, as it is bad for us in many ways, polluting our air, killing our animals. Most of the problem is due to peoples lack of care and their inability to take responsibility of their actions! Littering not only makes the environment look bad but you and the community too. Everybody needs to get their act together and make better decisions about how they dispose of their litter; because without litter we would have a much healthier and happier environment.

Information Sources:

How Does Littering Affect Us: Texasdisposal.com

How Does Littering Affect Us: Innovate-eco.com

Why Do People Litter: Texas Disposal Systems

Why Do People Litter: Environment Cenn.org

Most Common Types Of Litter: Tentree Blog

Most Common Types Of Litter: Ukiah Recycles

What Can We Do: Texas Disposal Systems

What Can We Do: Pappilion Sanitation

Other: Bartleby.com

Photo:

– The conservation.com

by Chloe Croft, Havelock North Intermediate

Every year, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of commercial fishing gear are being abandoned in our ocean. Commercial fishermen have been discarding their nets, pots, lines, traps, and other fishing gear which has been entangling or strangling our marine life and ruining marine habitats.

In July 2019, Greenpeace reported on research which found that fishing gear from New Zealand commercial fisheries was discovered on a remote Pacific Island, 5,000 kilometres away1. On this particular island, a large proportion of the plastic litter found was from commercial fishing companies, including gear like ropes and buoys, nets, and buckets. Some of these items were still stamped with New Zealand fishery logos.

This shows how far fishing gear pollution can travel with the ocean currents, and how fishing gear pollution has become a worldwide problem.  According to Elizabeth Hogan, the U.S. oceans and wildlife campaign manager at World Animal Protection – 640,000 tons of ghost gear is hauled out of the water each year. But some areas are more highly affected than others. In 2016 Elizabeth Hogan reported- One of the biggest areas affected is in Hawaii. “They remove close to 60 tons of gear every single year from the same spot. Since Hawaii doesn’t have a net-fishery, much of this ghost gear travels across the Pacific from those waters where nets are used.”2

The reason this is becoming more of a problem is that the fishing industry worldwide has begun to increasingly use plastic in nets, pots, lines, and ropes, as well as other commercial fishing equipment, over the last two decades. Plastic’s qualities such as durability, buoyancy, and cheapness make it ideal for fishing equipment. Sadly, these same qualities also make the lines and nets a deathly threat to marine life, and the communities around the world that depend on healthy, thriving marine life.

 A lot of Fishermen have been ignoring the cons to this, and have been continuously using these plastic nets. It has become such a problem that “Ghost gear” – meaning abandoned fishing gear- is estimated to make up 10% of ocean plastic pollution but forms the majority of large plastic littering the waters. A study found that as much as 70% (by weight) of macroplastics found floating on the surface of the ocean was fishing-related.

In NZ there are very strict rules about fishing yet fishing gear is either being abandoned here or it is drifting from around the world onto our coasts, strangling our marine life. The sustainability manager for Sealord NZ thinks that discarded fishing gear is not a big problem in New Zealand but discussions with local Hawkes Bay fishermen have a different opinion. Wayne Bicknell of Legasea HB and a recreational fisherman have found that a lot of the fishing gear and other plastic is washing up on NZ shores. Which makes it a threat to seabirds. Wayne says that waste on the beach is mostly fishing nylon and bait packaging. 

Even though this may not be the outstanding issue in New Zealand right now, it will be soon enough.

A solution is obvious. We need to make nets, lines, pots, bait packaging, and any other fishing gear biodegradable. Globally, one tonne of new ghost fishing gear is lost or discarded in our oceans every minute. A report on  “Ghost Gear” shows that 6% of all nets used, 9% of all traps and 29% of all longlines remain as pollution at sea3. Not only does this old fishing waste go on killing marine life, but it also seriously damages underwater habitats.  If it was biodegradable it would have much less of an effect on the environment.

If making fishing gear biodegradable is too costly or just not a good solution, there are other possible solutions.

Sealord NZ’s current sustainable process includes using electronic sensors on their fishing nets to monitor the whereabouts of the gear and provide this data to Fisheries NZ. This is a good solution however it is not 100% reliable.

Hawkes Bay fisherman Karl Warr has a different approach to keeping our marine life safe. The current cage Karl uses is made of stainless steel and it lets under-sized fish swim out of the gaps. It’s a built-in filter for the catch, and it means that more than 90% of the catch is usable.

The survival rate of trawl-caught fish with a usual net is slim because they are hurt in the process of trawling by the compression in the net. Although the undersized fish are tossed back over the side, they usually float away and die. The cage Karl uses gives him greater control over the things he catches and also means that the fish that have been caught are in better condition and can be sold as higher quality for more money. This benefits Karl and the environment.4

If we take initiative in the next couple of years we can begin to eliminate this problem before it becomes dangerously big. Keep New Zealand Beautiful!

Bibliography

1.https://www.greenpeace.org/aotearoa/story/this-is-what-ghost-fishing-does-to-the-ocean/

2. https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/green-life/ghost-gear-haunts-world-s-oceans

3. https://www.ruraldelivery.net.nz/stories/Allstar-Fishing-s-Sustainable-Catch

4. https://www.greenpeace.org/aotearoa/publication/ghost-gear-the-abandoned-fishing-nets-haunting-our-oceans/#:~:text=The%20%E2%80%9CGhost%20Gear%E2%80%9D%20report%20 shows,also%20seriously%20 damages%20underwater%20 habitats.

“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