Cameron and Natalia holding baby Sergio

Living low-waste with tamariki

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“We’re not expert parents or expert environmentalists, but when Sergio came along we made some conscious decisions about how we operate to reduce waste”. 

Lower Hutt locals Cameron and Natalia were inspired to reduce their waste after the arrival of their new baby, and as volunteer marine mammal medics for Project Jonah. After seeing firsthand the impact of plastic on ocean life, they were motivated to make changes to their lifestyle. 

They try to buy products in glass or paper rather than plastic. These containers are then re-used for food storage, and most plastic containers are reused before being recycled. Frequent bulk food store shoppers, they can be found looking for low-waste alternatives at Moore Wilsons, Davis Trading, and Asian or Indian supermarkets. Buying in bulk can be more expensive up front, says Cameron, but it works out cheaper and creates less plastic overall. Cameron carries a kit in his bag with a reusable cup, folding spoon & fork, travel chopsticks and a reusable bag. 

Natalia even makes her own toothpaste. The recipe is simple and easy: mix bicarbonate of soda, coconut oil, and peppermint essence for a minty flavour.

The family has a compost bin to turn food scraps into food for their garden. They do get the occasional rat living in the bin, but a free rat trap from DOC has been working to keep them at bay. 

Sergio wears reusable nappies during the day, which was an “economic decision as well as an environmental one”. They come in a range of cute designs, and can be put into the washing machine after use. Natalia & Cameron prefer to use inserts made from bamboo or hemp. Synthetic fabrics shed microfibres in the wash which then end up in the ocean through wastewater systems. With a fast growing baby, using second-hand clothes where possible saves money and reduces waste. Natural fibres like cotton and wool are gentler for Sergio and will biodegrade at the end of their life. 

Reusable nappies and homemade wipes

As members of Petone Toy Library, Sergio has a constant supply of new toys to play with at little to no cost.  Natalia and Cameron have found that they no longer have the issue of buying  packaged toys that he will use for a few months and lose interest in. 

The family make their own baby wipes after being inspired by Kiwi expat Joy Ratima’s YouTube tutorial. These awesome DIY wipes can be made by soaking halved paper towel rolls in boiling water, coconut oil, body wash and tea tree oil. They’re easy to make, natural and gentle for baby’s skin. Cameron says they “work just as well as commercial wipes”. Storing the wipes in a reusable container means they are totally plastic-free, unlike the supermarket varieties. 

Natalia & Cameron believe “everyone has their own journey, so what one person does might not suit someone else. It’s not about everyone doing everything perfectly, it’s about everyone doing something”. 

Cameron & Natalia’s tips to help you on your journey:

Tip 1: If you have a young baby, use reusable nappies, make your own wipes or join a toy library. 

Tip 2: Buy in bulk to save money & reduce plastic.

Tip 3: Buy clothing made from natural fibres where possible.

Tip 4: Carry a reusable cup, utensils and bag. 

Tip 5: Compost food scraps into garden food. 

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