Ways to give back to nature this summer
Nothing beats a kiwi summer, marked by long days on the beach, swimming between the flags, backyard cricket, picnics in the park and rope swings into rivers…
New Zealand’s natural environment is an integral part of our summer, and everyone can help preserve and protect the beaches, lakes, parks and waterways that we are so lucky to have. So over the holiday season, here are a few things you can do to give back to nature.
If you’re heading on a summer roadie, keep track of your mileage and offset your own CO2 emissions. Doing so is surprisingly affordable and easy. Ekos is a New Zealand social enterprise that allows you to calculate your emissions online and then offset them by investing in nature. Once a dollar value is calculated, you then choose a forest protection project in New Zealand or in the Pacific Islands to offset your emissions. Your contribution may seem like a drop in the ocean, but a collective effort creates greater change, and you’ll feel good doing it.
Pick up some litter before you leave the beach/park/reserve this summer. Make it your goal to grab at least three bits of rubbish every time you leave. Even better, rope in others to help – take your kids to a beach clean-up for a fun day outdoors. There are many groups and charitable organisations who organise public clean-ups. Often gloves and rubbish bags are provided, with a BBQ at the end. Sustainable Coastlines have a regular schedule of clean-ups to inspire community action, healthy waters and beautiful beaches. These events are opportunities to do some good for the environment, occupy the kids for a few hours and teach them a thing or two about waste and sustainability.
Support cafes and food trucks using Ecoware packaging, these are businesses committed to making a change. Not only do they want to offer food and beverages to nourish you during the hot days, they’re working on doing so in the most sustainable way possible. They are choosing to use packaging made from plants, not oil, designed to be commercially composted after use.
Keep a special eye out for those using our limited edition EcoCup Collection cups. 100% of profits from this collection are going to the New Zealand Whale & Dolphin Trust to help directly save our endangered Maui’s Dolphin. If you see these, grab a coffee, or grab two! The more we use the more we can donate.
Start composting your organic waste. Get a compost bin for your food scraps and green waste. When this waste is composted, natural biodegradation will occur, leaving behind a nutrient-rich fertilizer that can be used to fertilise your veggie garden! The contrary is sending this waste to landfill, which is not a sustainable option and the value of re-use is lost. Composting is simple and there are different bin options available for different households. Hungry Bin offers user-friendly worm bins to do the job, and it’s easy to keep a small caddy in the kitchen to fill up and dispose of in the bin later. You could shred your Ecoware compostable packaging and put it in your compost bin after use. Just remember that it will take longer to biodegrade than in a commercial compost facility, as the inputs of everyone’s compost bin is different.
Buy a glass water bottle the next time you’re at the supermarket. Glass water bottles are able to be reused over and over again, and can be cleaned in the dishwasher. If you fill this up and take it with you every day, there should be no need to buy a plastic water bottle. Glass can also be recycled indefinitely, whereas most plastics can only be recycled a finite number of times before the end destination is landfill. This is a simple solution that makes a big difference.
Summers are for hosting and attending BBQ’s, so why not try growing your own herbs at home instead of buying them from the supermarket. These herbs come in plastic and have been shipped from around the country to end up on the shelf. In growing your own herbs, you eliminate the emissions and plastic waste, and it’s so much more rewarding to garnish your summer salads with herbs from your own garden. As an example, edible nasturtium flowers are easy to grow and look fancy on a plate!
Longer and warmer days means you can naturally dry your washing on the line and avoid using your clothes dryer. Summer is an opportunity to use less power, which will help to save on monthly bills, and is also kinder to the environment. Other basics like switching off power outlets when you are not using them, and consciously switching off lights will also help to save on power.
Try conscious consumption. Most people lead busy lives, but if you can spare some time to pause and think before you purchase, you could make more sustainable decisions. Thinking about the purpose of why you are buying, whether there are alternatives, and whether the packaging is necessary, could alter your choice. As an example, the supermarket might offer a pack of vegetables in a polystyrene tray wrapped in plastic, whereas the fruit shop nearby might offer the same vegetables with no packaging. Eliminating the packaging is a more sustainable choice and a vote against plastic! Before you throw something away, you might think of a way to reuse it. A jar could be used as a small vase or used to store food in the pantry. Being mindful of consumption this summer will allow you to use your purchasing decisions as a tool for positive change.
These small things may not seem like a lot, but if everyone made the effort, greater progress is made. Stay safe these summer holidays and keep the good times brewing, without harming what we are so lucky to have.