Elizabeth Davies discovers being more environmentally responsible both feels good and saves money

Elizabeth Davies discovers being more environmentally responsible both feels good and saves money

By Elizabeth Davies

I’ve never considered myself an environmental crusader.

Sure I’m not burning tyres in my backyard or dumping containers of oil into the open ocean, but neither have I been closely studying packaging or seriously researching buying a prius.

In Auckland central you’re provided rubbish and recycling bins by the council and they are collected weekly/biweekly by a council provided service. The cost of this comes out of your rates. As we are renters this is a cost we never saw. I’m sure it was factored into our rent by our landlord, but it’s not something we ever really thought about.

Call me naïve but when we arrived in Tauranga I thought this system would be much the same. I was wrong. In Tauranga you can purchase council rubbish bags and put them out on your verge for them to be collected by the council, however these bags are quite expensive and there’s no council provided recycling service.

On one of our fist mornings here I had a sudden sense of extreme guilt as I casually chucked a can into the rubbish bin. Turns out my conscience got the better of me and the idea of not recycling was a little bit hard to swallow.

As I thought more about it I realised that we actually recycle a huge hunk of our weekly waste and the idea of adding that straight to the landfill was genuinely depressing.

The solution is private rubbish and recycling collection companies. We’ve chosen to go with J.J. Richards. For $4.75 a week we get two 120L bins, one for rubbish collected every two weeks, and one for recycling collected once a month.

All of a sudden seeing that weekly expense and realising that we will be going twice as long before our waste is collected our motivation to ‘go green’ was triggered. Living somewhere so beautiful seriously inspires you to want to keep it that way, while saving yourselves a few dollars in the process.

Not only have we kicked our recycling up a notch, making sure nothing is thrown away that can possibly be recycled, we’ve also decided to start composting. In just one week I was genuinely shocked at the amount of food scraps we were now naturally disposing of rather than throwing in our bin.

When you make one small adjustment it’s sort of like a domino effect. Being more environmentally responsible actually feels pretty good. After we started the composting we decided we’re going to start our own veggie garden, and seeing as we’re getting sun almost every day we’ve permanently switched off the dryer. In Auckland our house was damp and we were lucky to get a full fine day a week so our dyer became one of our most prized possessions, not only using a whole lot of power but consequently cranking up our power bill.

By being charged for the size of our selected bins, we’re effectively being financially rewarded for creating less landfill waste. The reality is by making a small effort, we’re saving ourselves money and helping keep our beautiful country a tiny bit more beautiful.


Elizabeth Davies is a 24 year-old graduate of the Auckland University of Technology post graduate journalism course. She writes a weekly article for interest.co.nz on money matters and financial struggles from a young person's perspective.

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This will all becoming to Auckland shortly.  Kerbside compost pickup, and then charge per landfill bin.

Hi Elizabeth.  You may already be aware of this but Tauranga has two recycling/ transfer stations where you can get rid of your recycling for nothing one at Meleme st in Greerton the other in Truman lane near the stadium.  We just use a kerbside bag every week or two and take our recycling to the transfer station whenever we are in the area rather than making a special trip

I am generally against paying for recycling as I believe reusing and not recyclyng is the solution for a more sustainable environment.
Just to be clear, in Tauranga we have to pay for a company to come and collect our plastics, papers and glass and make money with it smashing it, melting it, using energy and polluting to later on sell these materials to another company and make profit.
Well, I rather throw it to the general rubbish and hopefully one day institutions regulate the usage of these materials (to reduce it) and companies decide to promote reusing instead recycling. When I was a child we used to drink coca-cola in reused bottles (collected, washed and re-filled), but since the global capitalist-oriented brain-washing mainstream has convinced us that we are "helping" the environment by recycling (which is simply a lie) we don't even think about alternatives.
How is collecting a bottle, smashing it, melting it and producing another bottle something better for the environment than reusing a bottle?
..and that's why I choose not to pay to recycle (although sometimes I go to the transfer station where there is common sense and although they don't pay you for your materials at least they don't charge you either and I feel less of a fool)

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