Email Monday 20th March to  Hon John Carter QSO, Mayor Far North District Council

Dear John

The Cycle Way is awesome!  I loved riding it on Saturday, as did the friend I roped in who hadn’t been on a bike for years!  I’m now looking forward to my daughters, son-in-law and visitors from overseas riding that part in the near future!  Its so good to see this project come to fruition – all credit to the Green Party for initiating the concept around NZ,  all those individuals who have pushed it along, and for your Council following up on it.  I love the idea of new parts of Northland being opened up to such a gentle way of seeing our region.


However, I am concerned that we keep the Trail ‘clean and green’. As you will see from pic, on Saturday I already picked up a considerable amount of waste ( and had to leave more behind as I couldn’t carry it)!   I believe we need to create a culture right from the start which proactively educates NZ and overseas riders – and locals – in a ‘ Zero Waste Kaitiakitanga’  :

  • Lets make it easy for riders to make good choices which protect our land and sea environment and lets create fun signage about why using primary school kids art works
  • Lets ensure local people , trustees, Iwi and business people build a culture of stewardship of our Northland Environment right from the start.
  • Lets keep plastic from affecting fish stocks, shellfish and other marine life.  It needs to be recognised that the waste that gets dropped will be washed by rainstorms into drains and hence into the sea ( see pic of plastic yoghurt carton almost there –  on side of marsh raised walkway) – the trail is highly vulnerable, given sections by rivers, by streams, and by the coast
  • Sophisticated European tourists don’t want to see the amount of rubbish that I for example picked up along the trail on Saturday ( see pic of my ‘hoard’ at the finish showing as much as I could carry: 3 cans, 6 PET soft drink bottles, 5 crisp packets, 1 pie bag, 2 flavoured milk bottles, 1 yoghurt carton but had to leave many other items I was unable to carry) ) . Lets aim for rave reviews about our environmental policy on the Trail.
  • Lets showcase that ‘Northlanders care’ about generations yet to come and about our natural world

Why not

  • Set a goal say for July 2018 whereby the Twin Coast Trail will be a fully  Zero Waste Trail
  • Raise awareness of the issues amongst trustees by sharing this short video :
  • Define Zero Waste = No rubbish whatsoever that goes to landfill =  anything that’s discarded becomes a resource for something else. This means switching to reusable, compostable and recyclable food and drink packaging
  • What makes a ‘ Zero Waste Trail’ would best be brainstormed by those involved but here are 10 ideas for starters:
    1. All businesses along the Trail must be Ecostar rated by July 2018 in order to be promoted on maps, website etc
    2. Signage created by schoolkids (after all , it is their future that is at stake) describing why the Trail is Zero Waste and why its important ( Opua School kids already do great art work around the issues of waste/marine plastic for example) at intervals along trail – request sponsorship from Waste levy funding perhaps to pay for signs?
    3. In promotional material, strongly discourage riders from carrying any disposable plastic items such as single use water bottles, food packaging etc by explaining the Zero Waste policy and reasons why
    4. ‘Leave only footprints’ ( or ‘Leave only cycle tracks’)  message to be promoted and/or
    5. Ban businesses from using disposable cups/glasses (Interestingly the café we stopped at above the stream half way along was saying how they were really aware that they didn’t want to use the disposable cups they were supplying and felt bad that they were doing so but weren’t organised enough – it is my belief this is true of many, they want to make more eco-friendly choices but need leadership to do so)
    6. Set up a few water bottle refilling stations (like Opua School’s gift to  Paihia ( set up on Horotutu  by the Info Centre)
    7. Sell stylish customised Trail branded re-usable cups at start and finish of trail sections and at each cafe along the way eg
    8. Sell customised re-usable metal water bottles  eg
    9. Encourage sale of items with compostable packaging such as  Trade Aid chocolate bars / various coffee roasters bags
    10. Make it a trend to have cafes and maraes using funky mismatched op shop cups or mugs / glasses and no disposable ones


  • Ensure ALL  further FNDC events such as that held at Horeke on Saturday are Zero Waste ie all items used can be and are recycled or composted. ( Many Councils around NZ now hold only Zero Waste Events cf so no glad wrap over food, no food in soft plastic wrapping eg crisps, biscuits etc ( until soft plastic recycling is brought in in Far North ), no disposable cups, plastic bottles of water – replace with filling station and remind people to bring their own bottles –  etc. (Once FNDC is Ecostar-rated itself of course this will become second nature…😊)

Not only will this focus on Zero Waste for the Trail be useful in itself, it will also give Far North citizens (and FNDC) an aspirational target to achieve for other ventures.  #togetherwecandoit

What do you think?


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