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"The philosophy within this for me is that small individual changes can contribute to a bigger change. So, coming down to your core as an individual, identify how you contribute to injustices, with the ultimate goal being to change in some way. He iti hoki te mokoroa nāna i kakati te kahikatea; the grub may be small, but it cuts through the mighty white pine – you know, acknowledging the big influences that small actions can have."

- Leteisha

Making the choice

Leaving home for the first time can give you a new sense of freedom to make decisions on how you live. It’s a good chance to think about how the small choices we make every day can have a long-term impact on our planet, and what you can do about it.

Caring for our environment doesn’t have to come at a high cost. Whatever you choose, make sure that you’re still able to live comfortably and take care of yourself. Forming new environmentally-friendly habits takes time, so don’t feel any pressure to make big changes instantly!

Recycling and composting 

Sorting your waste is about reducing rubbish, so we see less waste in landfills. By doing our part, we also contribute to other environmentally-friendly outcomes such as reducing the making of new materials, which takes a lot of energy. Waste management processes are different across Aotearoa, so check your council’s website to see what the weekly waste collection schedules are.  

Some things you can do: 

  • checking your council website to find out what things are recyclable, such as bottle caps, used pizza boxes or different grades of plastic. 
  • separate different waste or recycling into different bins or bags. 
  • use non-animal food waste as compost for your garden. If this isn’t your thing, find out if there’s a compost collection point near you on websites such as Compost Connect, or ask your neighbourhood’s Facebook group. 
  • see if you can fix or upcycle things before you toss them out. There are communities such as Repair Cafés that help with this. 
  • check out recycling schemes around you, such as Soft Plastics Recycling. Some supermarkets also have bins for specific products. 
  • set yourself reminders so you know when your collection days are for rubbish, recycling, or organic waste.  

You can also check out more tips on how to minimise waste on the SortWaste website. 

Shopping sustainably 

Be conscious about what you buy. Think about how much packaging there is, if the packaging is recyclable, and where the product came from. Everything that eventually ends up in your home takes energy to produce and to get there. 

Many popular sustainable and ethical brands can feel pretty expensive, especially if you’re still new to buying things for yourself. There are, however, cheaper options around you: 

  • Check out your local vegetable market.  
  • Buy food and cleaning products in bulk.
  • Bring your own container the next time you buy takeaways or coffee.  
  • Get household items, furniture, and clothing second-hand. 

Getting around

Add some variety to your regular commute. Try walking, cycling, or using public transport if these options are convenient for you. Whatever you do, think about the different ways you can reduce the environmental impact of each trip.Add some variety to your regular commute. Try walking, cycling, or using public transport if these options are convenient for you. Whatever you do, think about the different ways you can reduce the environmental impact of each trip.

You can also try these transport tips:

  • If you’re not confident on a bike, there are programmes in many cities where you can learn for free, such as Pedal Ready in Wellington.
  • A basket on your bike can be really handy for your shopping trips.
  • If you’re a student, you can check your local public transport website for cheaper tickets.
  • Get a reliable public transport app that works for where you are, such as Transit.

Being an advocate

Think of the ways you can contribute outside of home. Vote for policies that are better for the environment or check out sustainability events around you.

Try volunteering or participating in programmes that have a positive impact on the environment, such as the Kākāriki Journey by the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. You might meet like-minded people who will have other ideas for you. They can also be a valuable source of support: climate change can be scary to think about, so take care of your emotional wellbeing too.

Keep learning more about our world, how things are made, and our place in the natural ecosystem. You might even start feeling like you can educate others. Resources such as Pūtātara can be an awesome place to get started.

“I think people feel daunted by the idea that they have to change their whole life in order to be sustainable, but I think it’s just looking at the things that you do day to day and how you could adapt them [..] we're almost like guests on this world, we don't own this place that we're living, so it's our obligation to care for it for our future generations."

- Leteisha