Below are some examples of what local efforts are underway. Work out how you can make regular changes that work with your whānau (family) - a change needs to be able to be maintained to have the greatest impact.
As a busy mum of four under the age of five, finding a way to get exercise with kids in tow proved tricky for Jen Bridson.
After stumbling across the concept of ‘cargo bikes’ - a bike designed to carry more than just the rider, the Bridson whānau found a way to incorporate exercise into their daily routine.
A tyre puncture to their van prompted the family to use their cargo bike as their main vehicle and they realised they didn’t need their van as much as they thought.
Jen says the sustainability impacts switching to the green mode of transport has dramatically reduced the family’s emissions.
“Using the cargo bike also has extra perks like bypassing school traffic, VIP bike parking and zero money spent on petrol.”
‘Walking gently on the earth’ is a philosophy adopted by early learning centre Tiaki. In 2015 the centre started offering a vegetarian feast during their Matariki celebrations.
Centre Manager, Kath Maud says some dubious attendees were surprised vegetarian food could be filling and delicious.
“When they realised vegetarian didn’t just mean ‘salad’ there was a big shift in support from the community and we were able to start nourishing tamariki with vegetarian kai daily.”
Following meal testing and consultation with whānau and a nutritionist, the Tiaki team have successfully transitioned to an entirely plant-based (vegan) menu.
Kath says although change is difficult to instigate and manage, it can create a ripple effect throughout the community if you take them on the journey.
“Our Tiaki community has embraced this change that not only benefits our precious tamariki, but also helps us to look after Papatūānuku (land) by reducing our meat and dairy consumption. Interestingly, the kid’s all-time favourite recipe is the tofu egg salad sandwich!”
Tiaki has support from its learning community and local marae and the team are proud to be ‘flipping the norm’ with their fully vegan menu.
Education about the benefits of opening up your house to fresh air and turning off unused appliances has helped one family save $600 a year on power bills.
The Halls received support through Sustainability Options, a Bay of Plenty business providing home assessments and education on energy management.
Sceptical at first, Lorraine Hall says the education and savings have seen her family save about $11 per week on their power bill.
“It all adds up – since we started opening up the house to replace moisture laden air with dry outside air, our home became a few degrees warmer at night and much easier to heat to a comfortable temperature.
Turning the Wi-Fi and other appliances off at the wall when they go to bed is another energy saving hack Lorraine learned and put in action to save.
As a custodian of her marae, she’s now tackling a bigger mission to educate her community about the benefits of switching off lights, opening windows and doors and turning off heating when rooms are empty.
Thanks to Lorraine, Korowai Aroha, where she works, is also going through the Sustainability Options programme.
What started as a little experiment, roasting green beans in a frying pan has now turned into Miriam Odlin roasting about 100kg of beans a week and delivering around the district on her E-bike.
Four days a week, Miriam is out on her cargo E-bike delivering Mourea Coffee Company beans through a glass ‘swap a jar’ system, creating a circular, zero waste supply chain for her customers.
Ms Odlin says her deliveries help her feel more connected with the world and the people in her community.
“I enjoy the views, smells, fresh air and people when I’m biking. I’m passionate about changing the way we transport ourselves and what better way to encourage others than to walk the talk!”
It is most common for coffee roasting machines to run on fossil fuel (natural gas) but Miriam has swapped her frying pan for a 12 kg roaster from France which runs on electricity instead, further improving the sustainability of her business and her green credentials!
Curious after watching online videos about growing vegetables from food scraps, Kat Cooper decided to ‘give it a go’ herself.
“After relocating to a property with no garden I thought I was stuck until I realised what I could grow without a large garden.
Putting roots of supermarket-purchased vegetables in water kept them fresher for longer and they soon started sprouting and growing roots, ready to be planted in soil – an educational science experiment for her three children, seeing first-hand the growth of vegetables in their own home.
This process has reduced the family’s grocery bills by having fresh produce for longer and providing more availability of fresh vegetables.
“Although we don’t have much space for a garden, we’re so excited from our learnings and have installed some raised planter boxes out of old pellets so we can continue growing and feeding our family of five.”
In 2019, Fisher Wang was finishing high school and planning a move to Wellington to study law and science.
A change of heart saw Fisher, then 19, put his university plans on hold and run for Rotorua Lakes Council in the 2019 local body elections to add his young voice and perspectives to the governing table. He was re-elected in 2022 for another term.
Fisher says his vision for the district is clear and his personal interests lay in sustainability and climate change.
“I want to help create a district where young people have a future, where they want to stay and work, buy a house and raise a family.”
Fisher’s sustainability interests drove the involvement in the Global Covenant of Mayors, in which local governments voluntarily commit to climate actions - this involvement led to the development of the Rotorua Climate Action Plan.
“I’m grateful for all of the support I have received from the community – one of my proudest achievements remains the unanimous support for the Rotorua Climate Action Plan, spreading a strong message that Rotorua Lakes Council supports climate change action.”
For most Kiwis, the commute to mahi (work) or kura (school) is simply what you need to do to get to your destination. For Rotorua resident Ricki Diamond, it’s one of the most enjoyable parts of his day.
That’s because Ricki hops on his electric scooter every morning and rides to mahi, whizzing past the lines of traffic, busy petrol stations and congested school drop-off zones.
It takes him just 15 minutes of fun to get from his home in Western Heights to Millennium Hotel Rotorua, where he works as a hotel attendant.
“The commute time is just as fast as driving, but I have the sun shining above me, I’m getting lots of fresh air, and it’s actually really fun!”
Ricki says he has always wanted an electric scooter and was thrilled when they became more affordable and he could save up and buy one.
“There are a few electric scooters around town, but not as many as you get in the bigger cities, so people are interested when you ride past, and they want to know more about where you can get one.
“I’m always happy to tell people about it because it saves you petrol, you’re not sitting in traffic all the time, and it’s more environmentally friendly.”
A motorist with a 50L vehicle will spend $7623 per year, taking into account current petrol prices ($2.50 at the time of writing) registration, warrant of fitness, services and insurance.
An electric scooter requires about $1 of electricity to charge, and a service will cost about $70.
In the colder, wetter months, Ricki stores his electric scooter and opts for public transport instead.
“I just don’t think we all need to have a car each, particularly in a place like Rotorua where you can get to most places within half an hour. Different forms of transport can get you into town just as quickly, and it’s better for the environment.
“There are many benefits to not driving, and it would be great to see more people trying out different transport options - but, in my humble opinion, there’s nothing better than an electric scooter.”
It’s the little changes that make the biggest difference for Aura Accommodation.
Established in 2016, sustainable practices are truly ingrained in the fabric of Aura with its 23 geothermally heated rooms, solar energy, and many waste-reducing initiatives.
Aura Accommodation General Manager, Ellen Tyrrell, says the accommodation industry can easily accumulate unnecessary waste, with people statistically being 40 per cent more wasteful when they travel.
“Some of this is out of convenience, purchasing more single-use products for example, but a lot of this comes down to the right facilities not being available.”
One of Aura’s key values is to educate and inspire its guests to make the right choices. They do this by providing simple, green initiatives that manuhiri (visitors) can easily get involved in.
“We want to help our guests make the same decisions here as they would at home.
“Each room has three bins and a composting container with simple instructions and diagrams to help do their bit for our planet. Our team take it from there, ensuring as much waste as possible is diverted from the landfill.”
On average, Aura diverts 50 per cent of its waste from the landfill each month.
“It requires effort from both sides to make a tangible difference,” Ellen says.
The sustainability initiative most raved about by Aura’s customers is Send Your Service, an opportunity for guests to forfeit their daily housekeeping service for a $5 donation to a local charity Aura supports Rotorua Trails Trust and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Rotorua. So far, they’ve donated more than $27,000.
Aura does have a sustainability advantage, being partly powered by geothermal energy.
“And when the sun’s out we run on solar energy, timing operations for peak solar production,” Ellen says.
“For everything else, we are supplied by Meridian Energy, which generates 100 per cent renewable energy.”
Aura’s sustainability messaging is clear, visible, and encourages action, with emphasis on what they’re doing and why.
“Being transparent about what we’re doing and why gives our guests an understanding of the impact we can have when we all work together to make one small change at a time.”
The sustainability efforts of a Rotorua ED doctor are not only stopping ‘unrecyclable’ waste from going to landfills but are contributing to a charity that sponsors healthcare students in Africa.
Volunteering with global organisation Terracycle, Tamsin Lillie has registered her Springfield home as a drop-off centre for certain types of waste such as coffee pods, dental products, and hair aerosols that cannot go in kerbside recycling.
With a laminated information sheet on her door and basket on the porch, locals can do a contactless drop-off and leave with confidence that their waste will both avoid the landfill and ultimately contribute to a charity donation.
Once Tamsin has collected enough waste to meet the minimum weight requirement, she sends it to a Terracycle plant, where it gets processed and recycled.
With each kilogram of waste donated, Tamsin earns points, which she then trades in for a donation from a sponsoring business to her charity organisation, Medic to Medic.
The not-for-profit organisation helps people in Africa who are studying to become healthcare professionals but are at risk of dropping out due to poverty and accessibility barriers.
Tamsin has been involved in Medic to Medic since 2009 and became CEO in 2015, on top of being an urgent care doctor at Rotorua Hospital.
“I have always had an interest in sustainability and charity work, and being a doctor, Medic to Medic was one way I felt I could make a difference.
“During my trips to Malawi, where many places don’t have any waste management, I also saw first-hand the negative impact it has on the environment.
“Getting involved with Terracycle is a win-win because we’re diverting waste from landfills and, at the same time, supporting charities that are making a positive difference around the world.”
Tamsin says Terracycle has “exploded” in other countries, and she hopes more people in Rotorua jump on board.
“Education is key. Once people know about the recycling options available, it becomes easier to incorporate that into your everyday life.”
Learn more about Terracycle here.
One of ZORB’s business cornerstones is kaitiakitanga; guardians of the place and environment the team calls home.
From the crew clearing rubbish from ZORB’s road frontage each morning to replanting thousands of native trees in partnership with Ngāti Whakaue, ZORB’s commitment to implementing sustainable initiatives across the business is something to aspire to.
And some of the solutions are just as innovative as the ZORB itself when it was first introduced in 1994.
Generating more energy than it needs most months, the ZORB team can confidently say that the business is powered by sunlight.
With 33kW solar panels on the main roof and structures out in the paddock, ZORB creates enough energy to service the day-to-day running of the business, as well as its innovative ZORB transport conveyor TOWGO.
ZORB Director, Andrew Akers, says TOWGO is a world-first innovation designed and built to not only increase productivity and capacity, but to also minimise environmental impact and fuel usage.
“Instead of towing the 95kg, 3-metre diameter balls up the hill behind a 4WD, we use an electric-driven return system where the giant conveyer takes multiple balls up at once.”
Energy saving is one of ZORB’s most sustainable practices, with the company also having two out of five vehicles in its fleet fully electric.
Another big factor in ZORB’s sustainable journey is giving its balls a new lease on life.
All ZORB ball parts are reused where possible, with the rest being recycled into protective mats for playgrounds across the city.
“Once the ball leaves our site, very little is left behind,” Andrew says.
Andrew says the team has a strong commitment to ensuring they practice a sustainable business platform that considers the environmental, social and financial impacts in all parts of their operations.
“Ultimately, we’re working towards a New Zealand where our economy, people and environment are better off because tourism exists.”