Parvati prepping lunch

Parvati tackles her family’s waste

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Parvati has been interested in sustainability since she was a kid. She studied Environmental Science at university, but in the last 7 years she’s become more interested in reducing waste at home.

Before moving to Lower Hutt 18 months ago, Parvati lived in West Auckland. “Just like Lower Hutt, we had to buy rubbish bags from the council to dispose of our waste. This meant how much waste we were producing was really obvious.”

“Start with one thing, make it a habit, then add something else”

6 years ago when Parvati had her first daughter, she wanted to make sure her family wasn’t increasing their waste. She didn’t have any specific aims or goals, but wanted to “set a good example.”

“Make it easy for yourself,” she says. “We start with one thing, make it a habit, then add something else.” It was a process they slowly started to introduce. “We used disposable nappies for the first 6 weeks while there were lot of changes, and at night to avoid dealing with accidents.”

Now they use cloth nappies and cloth wipes during the day to minimise waste. They also got daycare on board to continue using cloth nappies while Parvati goes to work. 

They also try to buy less stuff, purchasing things from op-shops or swapping with friends. “I decided a year ago that I will not buy takeaway coffees unless I have a keep cup.  This either saves me money because I don’t buy the coffee, or I’m forced to slow down and have my coffee there.”

During a recent trip to Auckland Zoo, she noted the proliferation of coffee carts and bins filled with coffee cups. “I sent them an email suggesting they implement a cup-cycling scheme, this is now being implemented.”

Now with the changed recycling rules, Parvati is conscious of trying not to buy non-recyclable plastics. “I’d like to shop plastic free more, but I don’t have time to go to speciality shops to do that, so I just go to the supermarket and make better choices,” she says. Aware that it’s difficult to buy plastic free when so many things come pre-wrapped, she believes “we need to just legislate change if we want change to happen fast, or make costs of disposal higher so people think before they dump. Or even better, put the responsibility onto the manufacturers to change their processes.”

Parvati has been using reusable bags at supermarkets for 15 years. “I keep them in my car. I also have a bag with takeaway containers, keep cups and my water bottle in my car in case I need to use them.”

When it comes to food waste, everything is composted. “When my babies started eating, we’d give them the same food as we were eating so we weren’t making extra food that will go to waste.” For parties she uses compostable plates and cutlery even though it costs more.

Parvati is on journey, always adding new ways to reduce waste. Set yourself some goals and start to bite them off one at a time and make them habits.

Parvati’s tips to help you on your journey:

Tip 1: Use cloth nappies and cloth wipes

Tip 2: Keep reusable bags, takeaway containers and coffee cups in your car

Tip 3: Use compostable plates and cutlery for parties

Parvati hanging nappies on washing line
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