Cleaning products on tea towel

Research your products and do what works for you

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The hardest mindset for Ngaio to change was simply to “get into a routine of doing it.”

Her family composts, uses cloth produce bags and reusable bags. “We buy bulk where we can, recycle properly, buy sustainable products and responsibly sourced clothing where possible, but it’s also about setting an example for my kids too.”

Her advice to people now is to “do one thing. Don’t get overwhelmed by everything you want to change and don’t try to do it all at once. When I had kids, I decided to use reusable nappies and that’s what started things for me. About 18 months ago I kick-started my effort on plastics and packaging.”

Her path toward waste management began when she was “trying to buy cleaning products at the supermarket and not knowing if I could trust the ‘green’ claims they were all making.” So, while working in climate change for the Ministry for the Environment, Ngaio decided she wanted to work with businesses wanting to be more sustainable but didn’t know where to start, and those wanting to engage more with government on sustainability issues.

This prompted a large personal project to “provide information to consumers about the environmental impacts of the cleaning products they buy. We did a chemical by chemical analysis of every product you can buy in supermarkets in NZ. We also assessed the recyclability of the packaging.”

Resources available to Ngaio unfortunately means the project remains incomplete, but the experience taught her invaluable lessons. “At home, we make better, informed decisions when buying products. At work we help improve the regulatory environment to support sustainable businesses and encourage less sustainable businesses to improve their environmental performance.”

Ngaio’s tips to help you on your journey:

Tip 1: Make better, informed decisions when buying products.

Tip 2: Buy sustainable products and responsibly sourced clothing.

Tip 3: It’s about setting an example for your kids.

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