Plastic Free July encourages life long skills



2 August 2019


Plastic Free July may be over but residents are being encouraged to keep up with the new skills they have learnt.

For Plastic free July, Rotorua Lakes Council’s sustainability team set up three workshops and three presentations focussed around waste, environment and Māori kaitiakitanga perspectives on climate change.

Three workshops took place on Saturday 13 July at Mitre 10 Mega Rotorua, and were centred around composting organic food materials at home. Each workshop taught participants valuable skills to be able to turn their food waste into nutrient rich soil for their gardens to save it going to landfill.

The workshops explored three forms of composting. Bokashi; a Japanese style of pickling food scraps, warm farming; using tiger worms to digest the scraps, and conventional composting; which is able to support a large amount of food waste.

By recycling the food waste through a composting system, it allows the material to breathe as it breaks down. This means instead of producing methane as it does in the landfill, the decomposing material produces carbon dioxide which is 30 times less harmful for the environment than methane.

The ‘Watch your waste’ presentations were delivered by Deepa Goswami and Harina Rupapera, passionate members of the public who are both heavily involved in encouraging sustainability in both their personal and working lives.

They provided insight into different perspectives of how our habits could create less harm to the planet by making small changes in the way we think about waste and our immediate environment.

Deepa discussed how she creates awareness about food waste at an intermediate school in Rotorua.

Her presentation identified missed opportunities to repurpose food, and noted that an average New Zealand family throws away $563 worth of uneaten food per year.

Her suggestion for a solution was that people should look at food waste going to landfill as the last resort.

“We should first look at source reduction – where the food comes from. Reduce the amount of food you buy. Then use any left overs to feed the hungry. Then use it to make fuel and bio-diesels. Then we could compost it and the nutrients would go back into the soil. And then once all of these have been tried, we could look at sending it to landfill,” Deepa says.

To follow, Harina shared a personal kaitiakitanga perspective on climate change by providing insight into a Te Ao Māori view of the land and its connection to people as one in the same.

Harina believes that by having more compassion and identification with our environment, people will 

think more sustainably about their decision making when it comes to the way we use our natural resources.

“I feel like [humans] aren’t taking responsibility of waste after consumption… there is a linear cycle that needs to change. However, we don't have to hang around and wait for policies to change, we can make an effort and influence the change ourselves,” Harina says.

As lead cutter in conservation group Te Manu Tuapunga, Harina also ran the presentation ‘Te Mauri o Tangaroa’, and spoke about the relationship that we have with whales as living beings. She also discussed her own personal experience within the transmission of ancient knowledge within the context of whale resource recovery. 

“‘He mokopuna au, he tupuna au’ which means we are of the environment, the water, of the land and of our whakapapa (geneology). It is relevant to the belief that whales are our tupuna (ancestors),” Harina says.  

RLC Sustainability Resource Educator Monica Quirke agrees that there needs to be more focus on sustainable practices within the wider community when it comes to how we dispose of our waste, but it is not a quick fix.

“We are on a journey and we have a long way to go,” she says.

All koha collected as entry for the activites are going to be donated to Visions of a Helping Hand and Women’s Refuge.


To become involved in future presentations and workshops, contact


Page reviewed: 02 Aug 2019 1:30pm