ROADSIDE CANS & BOTTLES – ARE WE STUCK?

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THE NATURAL WORLD – SACRED OR SECULAR?

I’m cycling the beautiful Taranaki Surf Highway, pondering how car drivers feel okay tossing out their trash.  ‘Do they believe it miraculously disintegrates?  Or feel they are kindly creating jobs for others to search for litter in roadside drains? Perhaps its just that well-engineered, hermetically sealed and air-conditioned vehicles become disconnected from the sacredness of the living nature of which they are a part, or is the alienation due to ‘Macdonaldisation’ and where outcomes are disocciated from reality through a screen. Or does today’s speed of travelling just mean roadsides flash past unseen? For me slowly cycling by (and yes, I’m not as fit as I would like) each verge, stream, plant and animal becomes my world and I theirs’, joined within the sacredness of creation, before in a slow dance we move apart once more.

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GREEN PRESCRIPTIONS?

Under my cycle helmet, my mind generates potential solutions.  Get young adults out on bikes into the countryside maybe, or ask GPs to prescribe bush walks, or perhaps insist high school students spend time within a forest at regular intervals? Or is it through creating urban natural spaces, not trimmed and mowed and pruned, but spaces alive with creation, flowering native plants, seed loving birds, invertebrates, streams alive with life, that Kiwis and visitors may once again learn to love and revere the natural environment?  How best to grow that reverence, and how to protect our natural world until its sacredness is understood by all?

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BOTTLE AND CAN REFUNDS!

As I pedal happily along pondering options, ‘Bring back container deposits’ reverberates the loudest in my head.  10c on every plastic bottle and I bet each one of these on the roadside would be gone within a month, scavenged by kids or clubs looking for funds.  Or raise it to 50c and I am fairly sure not a single milk or coke bottle would go to the landfill, and clean uncontaminated resource would be gathered for recycling.   Give people this incentive not to litter as well as for others to tidy up after them and it’ll be worth opening new regional recycling plants.  That’ll be the day, when there’s no need for quantities of plastic waste to be shipped overseas or trucked long-distance to the sole Auckland plant.

Local Councils are all in favour as ratepayers would save $40M a year, and it would create 2000 new jobs (http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/82448067/calls-grow-for-a-return-to-the-days-when-we-were-paid-to-recycle) so my feeling is our current Government is merely maintaining the status quo due to lobbying from the powerful NZ packaging and drinks companies.

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HOW HARD WOULD IT BE TO BRING IN DRINKS CONTAINER REFUNDS?

The process is straightforward: drinks containers would be declared a priority product under the 2008 Waste Minimisation Act and an 85% recycling target would be set.  Drinks companies would be given 2 years to come into line.    Bottle drop off points and reverse vending machines would form a national network with drinks companies forced to put a minimum deposit on drinks containers.

It works in South Australia. Last year 43 million tonnes were recovered, earning $53 M for the community. So why not here?

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WHAT CAN I DO?

What is needed – why, consumer pressure of course!   Personally, my feeling is that the Councils have done their best, and that now its up to us citizens to create the groundswell that will force the change. That’s how change always happens…..

I’m making a start with the goal until July 2017 is each week to write a minimum of one email or message, talk with movers and shakers wherever and whenever, and post or message one drink company Facebook page. Its actually quite fun, as I get all sorts of responses, and if I dont I write again, or call…  Recently I’ve written to Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, and Taranaki tourism about roadside litter and container deposits, and to Te Papa and KiwiRail about recycling.  Now I’m making an appointment to see our local MP about the topic…

Watch this space. I’ll let you know how I get on….

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