Liam Prince and Hannah Blumhardt are in Masterton sharing tips on how people can reduce their waste footprint. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER
Hannah Blumhardt and Liam Prince decided they would try living without a rubbish bin at the start of 2015.
That meant adopting a zero-waste lifestyle — so no purchasing food wrapped in plastic, no takeaway coffees in disposable cups, and no more store-bought toothpaste.
Since making that decision, the Wellington couple have never looked back and say because of it their lives have been enriched.
“We’re healthier, we’ve saved a lot of money with this lifestyle, and you have to be creative because you have to learn how to make your own things from scratch.”
This week, Ms Blumhardt and Mr Prince are in Wairarapa talking about how their rubbish-free journey began.
“For us it was the issues with plastic pollution that really motivated us,” Mr Prince said.
After some online research the couple discovered people all around the world were giving up trash.
“As soon as we realised it was possible we started doing it.”
The pair said they were amazed at how easy it was to drastically reduce their household waste.
“The cornerstone for living zero-waste is being able to shop in bulk bins and being able to take your own containers,” Mr Prince said.
Taking up the challenge they realised “just how normalised disposability” had become in society.
In a bid to inspire others to reduce their waste footprints, the couple have ditched their Wellington life to take their zero-waste roadshow The Rubbish Trip around the country.
For the next year, and with a daily budget of just $10 each, Ms Blumhardt and Mr Prince will share practical tips in reducing rubbish with community groups, schools and businesses.
“It’s not particularly complicated, it’s just about creating new habits,” Ms Blumhardt said.
The couple follow the “six R’s hierarchy” — refuse, replace, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot.
“The aim is to work your way down the list,” they said.
This consists of refusing what you don’t need — like plastic bags at supermarkets; replacing items with zero-waste alternatives — such as using a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one; reducing purchases that result in waste; reusing anything that can be reused — like glass jars and plastic zip-lock bags; recycling as a last resort; and then everything that’s left should be able to rot in a home compost.
“Recycling is quite a way down the list,” Mr Prince said.
That was because plastic is not infinitely recyclable and would sooner or later end up in a landfill.
Sending things to landfill is not an option for the couple, who are not the only Kiwis living a rubbish-free philosophy.
Matthew Luxon and Waveney Warth having been living rubbish-free since 2008, and Para Kore (te reo Maori for zero-waste) is an organisation working with marae around New Zealand to increase the reuse, recycling and composting of materials.
While in Wairarapa, Ms Blumhardt and Mr Prince have shared eco-friendly advice with Gladstone School and Boomerang Bags Featherston.
The pair will be giving a free presentation at The Masterton Art Club tomorrow at 2pm.
Visit www.therubbishtrip.co.nz for more information about The Rubbish Trip project.