Reusable nappies

Teaching waste reduction by example

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Mother of two, Shirley, suggests getting your kids involved with waste management by choosing a couple of behaviours to focus on, make it fun, and don’t beat yourself up if you get it wrong.

“My boys are now the ones who remind me, ‘have you got your bags mum?’, ‘remember to say no to a plastic straw’ as it’s what they have always done. It’s normalised for them.”

“I began by switching to reusable nappies,” she says, “then I started thinking about our household, looking at one practice at a time.” Shirley started making shampoo bars instead of buying shampoo in plastic bottles.

At the supermarket, ask for your meat to be wrapped in paper not plastic. “Just get comfortable doing something in a more efficient way, then try something new.”

Cultural identity is something kiwis are proud of, and it starts with teaching our children. They learn from our example, so what better way to keep us accountable? Shirley says she took steps toward better waste management because “I wanted to bring up my children with Tikanga Māori (Māori cultural practices), and a zero-waste lifestyle aligns with the philosophies of my ancestors.”

“I want to create a better world for my children,” Shirley says. “It doesn’t have to happen all at once. It’s a journey, and every small change does count. We need to think about the next generation and instil values into our children to make them effective kaitiaki (guardians) of our environment.” This advice doesn’t just relate to people identifying as Māori, it relates to all kiwis.

We are the greatest influencers our kids have. While creating better waste management practices might be a learning curve for us, it will become tradition for them, and they will teach it for generations to come.

Shirley’s tips to help you on your journey:

Tip 1: Pick a couple of behaviours to change and make it fun

Tip 2: Don’t beat yourself up if you get it wrong

Tip 3: Get comfortable doing something in a more efficient way, then try something new

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