This one took place the other way round – first I did the action then decided to do some learning around it.
I saw an old television in a skip and rescued it. I took it to the Waikato Environment Centre, which has an ewaste collection point and paid $15 so that it will be recycled properly.
What I learned
There are other (free) ewaste collection points, but many of these do no dispose of the parts (or all of the parts) properly. Ewaste collected by the Environment Centre is taken to Tokoroa town, where it is properly dismantled by employees of the South Waikato Achievement Centre – an organisation that supports and employs people with intellectual and other disabilities. When disposing of electrical appliances, it is important to make sure they are recycled properly, as otherwise they can leak dangerous chemical in to the land and water.
I’ve taken on the Plastic Free July challenge, which is about trying to reduce (or eliminate!) the amount of single use plastic you use.
What I’ve learned
I’ve learned that it’s blimmin’ hard! I already made my purchases based on a number of ethical/environmental/health criteria and did not think I was doing so badly, but now that single-use plastic is another consideration I realise just how few choices there are.
We have certainly cut down the amount of single use plastic since starting the challenge, and we intend to keep it lower than it used to be even after the challenge has finished. I also became an ambassador for Plastic Free July in New Zealand (see Week 19 – Plastic Bags). and became the volunteer co-ordinator for the ‘Step 1: Get A Bag’ campaign, which is a local campaign aimed at reducing the use of single use plastic bags – https://www.pledgeme.co.nz/projects/3852-matt-andy-step-1-get-a-bag
Refugeeism is something I hold strong opinions about, with regard to people being allowed to enter countries and receive the support and protection they need to be able to thrive. However, I actually don’t know a lot about the processes refugees face.
What I learned
I learned that there is a quota for accepting refugees in to New Zealand (750 people per year), but that this has not increased since it was first created in 1987. The quota does not reflect the changing number of dislocated people, which is now at 50 million people worldwide, nor does it reflect populations most in need.
I also read about the process asylum seekers face when entering New Zealand. It is a long and undoubtedly stressful process for those involved, though I was happy to see people have access to resources, independent reviewers and support. http://www.immigration.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/E809F05F-60EF-4483-9272-92B0EACDB440/0/claimingrefugeeandprotectionstatusinnewzealand.pdf
I have signed up to be a volunteer for the New Zealand Red Cross Refugee Resettlement Programme https://www.redcross.org.nz/what-we-do/in-new-zealand/refugee-services/.
I recently became the co-ordinator for a social enterprise that delivers organic and/or local produce to people (Ooooby – Out Of Our Own Backyards www.ooooby.org). Each week I need to work with many small-scale growers trying to work out if we have enough of a certain item to put it in the fruit and vegetable box, and I realised I do not actually know a lot about growing vegetables (I have vague ideas about some of the things that are in season – mainly from what happens to be growing or not growing in our veggie patch – but there are so many things I don’t grow, and there are so many vegetables I don’t know how to grow, or even what they are!).
What I learned
I borrowed a book about vegetables from someone that helps me pack the Ooooby boxes. I read about when to grow different vegetables and how long they can be stored. I also checked the back of seed packets to find out what can be grown outside now (beans, chard, beetroot… and probably some other things). It has actually been very interesting, and I am becoming more aware of even the regional differences in produce availability.
I gave some attention to our veggie patch, and planted some seeds and seedlings. I’ve been getting our 2 year old daughter to help and am trying to explain what I am doing to her, so she is also aware of these things. I always try to shop seasonally and locally but I am definitely more aware now and can make choices I am happier with. I’ve also been giving a lot of voluntary hours to Ooooby to help it be successful, and I am giving spare produce to family, neighbours and our local food rescue (that distributes it to charities).
I found out that ‘Conscious Consumers’ were holding a campaign to raise awareness about what we buy and thought it was a good opportunity to know learn a bit more about what they do.
What I learned
After Googling ‘conscious consumers’, I learned that 46% of people that took part in an international study said they would pay more for products and services that were environmentally or socially conscious. The study explored the kinds of issues people wish businesses to address, and protecting the environment was one of the most popular, alongside education, poverty alleviation and disaster relief. http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2012/the-global-socially-conscious-consumer.html.
I also visited the Conscious Consumers website and read about the positive impact Conscious Consumer accredited businesses are achieving, including supporting local economies, reducing waste generation, diverting waste from landfill, supporting organic and ethical products, and many other good things. http://www.consciousconsumers.org.nz/measuring-our-impact.
I took part in the Conscious Consumers ‘thunderclap’ campaign to raise awareness about their work and that of the businesses accredited by them. I have also tried to make sure that whenever I eat out now it is at Conscious Consumer accredited venues or else at eateries who support making environmentally and socially conscious choices.