Reducing plastic as a family with 3 kids in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand – tahi

One date night ago husband chose ‘A Plastic Ocean’ on Netflix.

90 mins later, i got off the couch and facebooked this:

If you’d like to ‘make my life’ watch this film.

Everyone who watches goes into the draw to win some homemade chocolate chippie biscuits made by yours truly.

Drawn Valentine’s Day 2017.
This day is no coincidence for the state of our oceans, our wild life, our awa, the world our tamariki and mokopuna will inherit, is so dear to my heart.

Feel free to share with your friends. The more people SHARE, comment, like this post the more people on my feed get to see it .Facebook’s algorithms…

To enter: 
1. Click on the link below to the film.
2. Watch this very accessible film 
3.Write in the comments below with your short or long response.
4. Be in the draw to win a batch of homemade biscuits.

With loving kindness

This film ‘A Plastic Ocean’ nudged me out into fuller consciousness.

I really GOT that all the plastic wrapped around the food i buy weekly/daily doesn’t DIE.

Death, Dying and Plastic Consumption

And perhaps this is part of society’s delusion. And perhaps this is for another blog post. But perhaps because most of us can’t face our own MORTALITY we don’t want to encourage or applaud the mortality of ‘things’. Maybe subconsciously we want everything to be immortal. Maybe if we were more fluent, conversational, open to the reality of our own DEATH, our own BIODEGRADABILITY, our own COMPOSTABLE reality, we would be more pursuing of things to DIE WITH US, not remain beyond our children’s children’s lifetimes, within the wildlife and natural wonders of our world.

Our plastic doesn’t DIE.

As ‘A Plastic Ocean’ points out, it doesn’t even break down, it breaks up.

Our fish eat these pieces of plastic floating in a wallpaper glue-like transparent jelly on the surface of OUR ocean. Our seabirds feed this same stuff unwittingly to their chicks who die with it in their stomachs. Too heavy to fly. Unable to ‘pass’ these 167 pieces of plastic within.

In some neighbourhoods of the world plastic is the landscape or seascape surrounds.

WATCH THE FILM – A Plastic Ocean – it will change your LIFE.

The plastic around the food in my cupboard and fridge the roasted seaweed, rice crackers, cheese, cashew nuts, raisins, weet-bix pack, tops of jars of jams, around smoked salmon, doesn’t DIE.

At best it gets put in a hole in the ground (landfill) at worst it blows off the rubbish truck and finds its way into the gutter and into the ocean where it breaks up and ends up killing our wild life OR find its way into our foodchain – for the fish eat the plastic and who eats the fish…

But i’m giving the film away…


Sorry i don’t mean to shout.
It never helps to be bossy.
I would feel so grateful and deep moved for you to watch the film ‘A Plastic Ocean’ and watch it a second time with your tamariki/children.
I would feel like you watching the film, would mean i had made a difference.

I’m here to make a difference.

I’m here to help.


the rubbish trip-10



The Rubbish Trip touring Aotearoa

I learnt more about ‘How we can reduce plastic’ through The Rubbish Trip which was a -warm-up event for little YOGA festival (a festival i run). Hannah and Liam (The No-Waste Nomads) gave a kind, packed-full, bi-lingual, evidence-based presentation in the May Street Scout Hall to 70 locals keen to learn more ways we can REDUCE the impact our living and our consumer choices, have on the EARTH, the SEAS, the FORESTS, the NATURAL RESOURCES, our children inherit after our physical body dies.

Here’s where i get honest.

I tried to make significant changes after that Saturday talk, on that thunderstormy Spring afternoon with The No-Waste Nomads.

Some changes worked a treat. Others – not so much.

Gains in the Reducing Plastic Journey

I armed two cars (husbands car and my family wagon) with
* 1 keep cup
* 2 reusable shopping bags
* 2 tupperware containers
* 2 sushi sticks and a handful of spoons and forks
* metal drink bottle

Whenever i went to an event i took my keep cup, in case i needed water, or wine? (Thanks H & L, this is a great tip). The No-waste Nomads recommend carrying it one’s bag at all times, so one’s not beaten enough to succumb to the polystyrene cup at the doctors.

I’ve declined straws in drinks and plastic spoons in ice-creams and suggested to hospitality staff to ask their customers BEFORE giving one automatically.

Set backs in the Reducing Plastic Journey

I attempted to go (once after school, and a second time in the weekend) with the kids to the greengrocer instead of using Countdown. This sucked.

* the kids got tired and i didn’t have enough hands to carry them AND the fruit and veg (i usually do online shopping and get it delivered). Third born refused to come inside the shop and stood dangerously close to the busy carpark. I was stressed. Nobody offered to help carry the bags. Everyone looked at me like i was less than a Queen – yes they did Constance Hall.
* the green grocer’s was busy and the people behind me in the queue made humphy noises, cos the unbagged nectarines kept rolling off the scales et cetera et cetera.
* it took a longer than usual time (online shopping if pretty time efficient) to firstly drive across town, then to walk from the butcher, the baker and the greengrocer.

Kindness is my Number One

After the various mummy and child melt-downs, i realised, i was mid-festival and i decided living KINDLY was a higher priority than living SUSTAINABLY.

I was feeling guilt and shame and that heavy feeling was impacting on my happiness, my stress and then in turn my mothering and the well-being of the family. Which certainly wasn’t sustainable.

I realised that KINDNESS is my number one. And if i’m making choices that impact on my ability to be as kind as i can then i need to re-think those choices. NB: Whilst we’re on the subject: I am not always kind, i am human, i have strong emotions, which i’m learning to regulate, but i, like everyone, make mistakes. I say this so that we get into the habit of not putting people of pedestals.

Make the changes i can

I decided to slow-down and do what i can.

Many of us wanna jump in boots and all. We wanna go cold-turkey. We strive for perfection.

We look in the food-stores and go:


Flexibility is my Number two

Whenever i restrict myself too much, i stiffen, i get cross, i get knotted up, i essentially lose flexibility.

Flexibility is perhaps NUMBER TWO.

Flexibility gives me (and my family) freedom. Can my mind, body, soul keep flexible, become more flexible, find flexible?

Because addiction and righteousness in any direction is not helpful.

I loosened up a bit. Let the soft, creep up against, the strong.

With that loving kindness i seemed to remember my keep-cup more often, i had enough tupperware in the car for that fish-stop and then the left-over sushi from lunch.

I looked for the opportunity not the GUILT.

Brene Brown (what a hero) talks so warmly about living a whole-hearted life, one FREE from guilt and shame and perfectionism.

I write this, not to be complacent, for any change needs some energy behind it for it to happen. It’s a bit of a grind to find a new rhythm. But that’s what it is – a new pattern for our brain, body, heart.

My next step on the Reducing Plastic Journey

After watching ‘A Plastic Ocean‘ i am ready for the next step, the next change. I’m not attempting to do it all. My house still has pasta packets, cheese packages, commercially made jam, bagged rocket (cos i love it and i have to wait for the seeds in my garden to grow). AND ALSO i’m ready for the next step.

I looked in the fridge and cupboard at what do i throw into landfill on a weekly basis i.e. what can’t be recycled. The packaging from:
1) crackers
2) bread
3) yogurt
4) cheese
5) meat

Then i thought, what feels do-able (rather than stress-ful) to change in this list?

1) I haven’t bought crackers, and have got a couple of recipes to try
2) I haven’t bought plastic wrapped bread from the online supermarket shop and have bought it from bakeries instead
3) I have struggled with yogurt. Husband tried making it, but we have learnt we need to strain it, have since bought cheesecloth/muslin to try again. Have tried using easi-yo but this comes in a plastic sachet.
4) Have found Gouda and Edam cheese available at The Gouda Cheese Shop for $29.50 per kg. We love parmesan, aged cheddar, feta and mozzarella and buy this on a weekly basis. Have looked into cheesemaking kits. Haven’t made much progress in the dairy products.
5) Haven’t bought meat from the online supermarket. Have started to use the butchers. Continued to use the fishmonger and happily / organically have been eating more veges because we don’t have as much meat lined up in the freezer. This is WIN WIN.

We realise being vegetarian or not eating cows or reducing our meat and uping our veges helps our environment in more ways than simply reducing plastic.

And at the same time here’s my current compass for living.

1. Kindness.
2. Flexibility.
3. Courage to change.

Let’s build each other up rather than pull each other down

I’m writing all this on a Saturday night to encourage YOU to be KIND to yourself as you TRANSITION.

All change, even for the good, can be difficult, stressful.

Celebrate the change you do make.

First born has made the comment there’s no food in the pantry. A friend mentioned she’d be tied to the kitchen if she kept to budget, whilst succeeding in plastic free for her family of 4 kids.

And herein lies the invitation to find the balance, to do what we can, and be mindful of GUILT. For she creeps up and sets in too quick and too nasty.

Future posts, events, inspiration

March sees the Bay of Plenty celebrate ‘The Sustainable Backyard Festival‘.

I shall keep posting on wild & grace facebook, little YOGA festival fb and little YOGA festival instagram, wee snippets of this SUSTAINABLE journey, as a mother.

‘I didn’t come here to be perfect, i came here to be human, me.’

For more history, films, books of how/why i started to be a CRUSADER of the eco rather than rugby variety, read on.

How/when did i start to be conscious of reducing plastic?

I’ve been trying to remember how (slash) when i became more conscious of how much waste i create.

It feels like i’ve had reusable bags for about 10 years. It started with cotton calico ones. Maybe i even bought some of these whilst in Wellington in the early 2000s from Commonsense Organics.

Many ‘vital ways of living’ shifted upon bringing children into the world.

We are that family that used re-usable cloth nappies.

Re-usable Cloth Nappies

In 2011 i made a special trip from the Bay of Plenty up to Auckland to a store on the shore that had a comprehensive range. I choose re-usable nappies not only for the reducing how many non-biodegradable weese and poose filled nappies i was sending to landfill but also i wanted my babies genitals (a dynamic ‘breathing’ area of their body) to get a break from those chemicals, that moisture reducing technology that ‘modern’ synthetic disposable nappies use, which is possibly, probably used in ‘mainstream’ sanitary pads also. I figured most babies and infants in New Zealand wear nappies for 3-4 years of their life, 24/7, excepting the ‘nappy off time’ some of us are ritualistic about or good old bath time. We looked for a bio-degradable/natural fabric-ed nappy. They were what’s called all-in-two snap in and were flannelette cotton (which sat next to our babies’ skin) rather than a polyester (plastic). They may have been pop-ins, as featured here:

And we then became lucky enough to have ‘The Nappy Lady‘ in our Bay, who facilitated great learning for families around the benefits of reusable nappies, and who helped families find the ‘perfect fit’ for them. As there are many re-usable nappies available now, with different price tags, features, fabrics etc.

Interestingly Kate has now expanded her workshops and teachings and is now known as Waste Free with Kate. I’m yet to attend one of her workshops around minimising food waste, but word on the street is they’re informative and fun.

Films and Books around Reducing Plastic and the Health of our Environment

‘The Great Disruption’ by Paul Gilding had a huge impact on me. I heard Paul speak within a Tauranga Arts Festival talk in the spiegeltent. I was so moved i bought 3 copies, so i could lend them out on demand – they sit within the wild & grace non-fiction library if anyone would like to loan them.

Then there was ‘Leonardo DiCaprio’s’ “Before the Flood” documentary.

Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’.

My blog posts

I started writing a few stories about ‘How to Reduce Plastic’ back in 2012 after reading fellow-local writer Jodie Brunning’s blog post about the state of Bay of Plenty’s recycling, here:

I profiled Sarah Williams, a friend who experimented living without plastic for a month, and now still does, here:

And then published a short list of ways to ‘Eat and Live with less plastic’ here:

Most recently, a blog post about giving and receiving ‘Toys without Plastic’, here:

wild & grace writes

There’s many topics we’ll cover in the next months.
1) Compost
2) Why Tauranga is changing from kerbside glass collection
3) Ways to campaign-for-change by lobbying companies on facebook
4) Celebrating companies and people who are changing, making a difference, using bio-degradable products
5) How to be a responsible and effective recycler
6) Which cities are acing recycling
7) A list of resources for people wanting to REDUCE plastic use

Any resources you’d like to leave, please comment below. The more we SHARE the better.
Go well and Be the Change you want to see in the World.

Written by Emily with wild & grace.
Photo credit: Featured image by Lily Lvnatikk from Unsplash, and within blog by Emily with wild & grace

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