Plastic bag free Auckland


Colinda Rowe presenting to plastic bag free meetingColinda Rowe, Chair of Grey Lynn 2030 spoke to the Plastic Bag Free New Zealand Auckland meeting on 21 August. The meeting was organised by Denise Roche, MP to highlight problems posed by single-use plastic bags and to announce an upcoming community coalition to reduce and ultimately phase out their use.  Here is Colinda’s presentation:

Hi, my name is Colinda Rowe, I am the Chair of Grey Lynn 2030 and am here tonight to speak to you around who we are, our history and our activities, including those around reducing single use plastic bags.

The Grey Lynn 2030 Transition Town movement began in 2008 with a few passionate locals who wanted to help shape a sustainable and vibrant community.

Focus groups were set up around community gardens, Traffic Calming, Energy and Waste.

WasteAwayLynn Green founded the Waste Away focus group, and the group’s initial action was an E-Waste Collection Day held in the Richmond Road Countdown Supermarket car park in March 2009, just prior to the local inorganic collection.  It was a very successful event with over 12 tonnes of computer equipment collected. Computer Recycling Ltd processed the computer gear and they also donated equipment to the local Grey Lynn Primary School.

In June 2009 the Waste Away group targeted food waste as their next action and started selling Worm Farms and Bokashi buckets at the GL2030 meetings as well as working with local cafes to organise collection of their food waste which was composted at Kelmarna Organic gardens.  This collection service was provided by Waste Away to several local Grey Lynn and K-Rd cafes for several years and was later taken over by We Compost.

Project uplift pink bin Lynn Green and Nadine WakimAlso, in 2009 Grey Lynn 2030 initiated an idea for a Farmer’s Market which opened its doors in September of that year. The market is held at the GL Community Centre every Sunday morning and the Waste Away group have had a stall there since the beginning.  We promote and sell worm farms and bokashi buckets as well as selling reusable coffee cups, string bags and food wraps. This is around the time that I joined the group and I always find it a successful venue for talking with people and promoting and selling alternatives to sending waste to landfill.  

Grey Lynn 2030 officially became a Trust in 2012 and the Wilton Street Community Gardens and the Waste Away groups were by this time its primary focus.  The group did initiate and help set up the Grey Lynn Business Association and also Grey Lynn Urban Environment Group (GLUE) who set up a response to the Auckland Unitary Plan.  One of our Trustees, Suzanne Kendrick runs a monthly car boot market, this is held on the last Sunday of the month at the RSC car park in Francis Street and has been going for around two years now.

The Waste Away Stall at the Farmers Market has evolved over the years and now also boasts a battery and light bulb collection service (we ensure the items collected are sent to a responsible recycler) and a bra collection bin – these are donated to the Uplift Project who organises for the bras to be sent and distributed to women in the Pacific Islands who cannot afford or have no access to buy bras.

Waste Away at the West Lynn Street PartyTogether with the Farmer’s Market Manager we have worked on zero waste initiatives for the market and in particular set up a Re-use it! Scheme – people can drop off or take home glass jars, egg cartons, plastic bags and seedling trays during the Farmer’s Market hours on a Sunday morning.  This has been very successful with many donations of items and as many people wanting to take them home, the crates fill up and empty each week.

We have for several years now had an information stall and provided food waste and recycling collection services at local events such as street parties and the festivities that were held around the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

We have always been passionate about taking action to reduce the use of single use plastic bags.  Our first initiative was a flash mob at New World Victoria Street in August 2013 – you can find a video of this on You Tube.

Waste Away team plastic bag free dayWe undertook our first Plastic Free July initiative in Grey Lynn last year.  Our group had expanded its numbers at the beginning of the year and with some new faces and added passion, we approached all the shops in the Grey Lynn / West Lynn area and asked them to go plastic bag free for one day on 31st July.  Many agreed to participate and we were thrilled to get the two Countdown supermarkets on board.  They removed all plastic bags for the day and offered customers a free cloth bag if they spent over $50.

As part of Plastic Free July we also organised a movie night and showed Bag It, Jeb Berrier’s  one man journey of discovery about plastic bags, our reliance on these single use items and the negative effects of plastic waste on our waterways, oceans and our bodies.

We also worked together with Auckland Zoo last year to organise a Reuse to Reduce Rummage Sale Auckland ZooRummage sale at the zoo which was held on 1 November as part of the zoo’s Conservation Week activities.  We organised drop off sessions where anyone could donate items which were sold on the day – it was a fantastic event which was really well supported and our volunteers were hard pushed not to buy up the best deals before the day!

Waste Away group Feb 2015We are currently involved with the Auckland Council’s plans for a Resource Recovery Network and hope to be part of this in some way or another as the network develops.  The current inorganic collection (which sends 24,000 tonnes of waste to landfill each year!) will be replaced by a collection service for inorganic waste which will be sorted and reusable items sent to a network of Community Recycling Centres where they will be reused, recycled, upcycled etc.  We have Envision Consulting working with us currently to develop a vision of how we can be involved.

Waste Away plan to run more initiatives for Plastic Free July this year as well as taking part in an Auckland Council working group that has been set up to look at reducing single use plastic bag usage in Auckland.  I would like to thank Denise Roche for inviting us here tonight and we are thrilled that this topic is being taken up by the Green Party, we will of course be giving our full support!