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Way to sew .. Addictions, Mental Health Peer Support Services member Terri Wilson settles in for a session at the sewing machine to make more reusable fabric bags. PHOTO: CLAIRE ALLISON

It is Plastic Free July and people in 150 countries are being urged take up the challenge to “choose to refuse” single-use plastic.
The Courier took a look at some of the initiatives around South Canterbury that aim to reduce the amount of plastic in our community.


Behind a black door in Church St, machinists are turning out reusable shopping and book bags.

Addictions, Mental Health Peer Support Services (AMPSS) members have taken up the challenge of contributing to the supply of reusable bags to help reduce the number of single-use plastic bags in circulation.

Temuka woman Karen McClintock has been involved in efforts to reduce plastics use in her community for about three years, and approached AMPSS to see if it would be interested in helping to make fabric bags.

WAYS TO REDUCE PLASTIC

Bin liner (plastic bag) – Line your bin with several layers of newspaper

Deodorant – Make your own

Doggy doo bags – Folded up newspaper

Coffee cup lid – Request no lid / take a reusable cup

Cling film – Reusable container / aluminium foil / fabric wraps

Hair brush – Keep an eye out for wooden/bamboo hair brushes

Milk – Look for milk in refillable glass bottles

Nappies – Reusable cloth nappies

Pasta – Make your own, buy in bulk or look for cardboard-packaged pasta

Plastic bag – Arms /cardboard box / reusable bag

Plastic drink bottle – Reusable drink bottle

Plastic straw – Lips / metal or glass straw

Shampoo – Solid bar shampoo

Toilet paper – Look for toilet paper wrapped in paper

Ms McClintock has been involved in supplying the Temuka Library with book bags, and is fielding requests from op-shops for reusable bags, and vegetable growers for produce bags.

Hospice South Canterbury is also doing its bit for the community by eliminating the use of plastic bags in its two stores.

Fundraiser Jeanna Munro said both stores – the Hospice Shop in Orbell St and the Church St store – had used donated plastic bags, but had been trying to reduce the number used and encouraging customers not to take a bag.

“Our shop managers are right behind it. Everybody is aware, and most of the time, when we’ve asked customers if they want a bag, most people don’t.”

Meanwhile, sustainability advocates in South Canterbury are encouraging residents to ditch plastic straws if they can.

The Mackenzie District Council started a campaign in March encouraging residents to decline a straw when ordering a drink in the district.

Council solid waste manager Angie Taylor said plastic straws were regularly found as rubbish in waterways around the district, including the canals during a community clean-up, and were toxic to fish and birdlife if swallowed.

The Mackenzie initiative was just one aimed at reducing plastic straw usage around the country.

One Timaru resident was collating a map of plastic-straw-free cafes and areas in New Zealand, as part of the Last Straw project.

Timaru environmentalist Kimberley Collins recently launched www.thelaststraw.nz which includes a map of venues around New Zealand that have chosen the sustainable straw option.

While it was early days for the project, people could fill out a form to have a venue listed on the website’s map, she said.

Kimberley Collins

Alternatives to plastic straws included bamboo, paper, glass or metal straws, which were reusable or could be composted.

Ms Taylor said while it was understandable that young or elderly residents, or those with a medical condition, needed to use the bendable and injury risk-free plastic straws, the campaign was encouraging those who did not need plastic straws to try using fewer of them.

The Mackenzie District Council was also working on ways to manage and minimise waste in the district, including working on a draft plan.

The Draft Waste Management and Minimisation Plan for 2018-24 would help the council “improve what we do with waste”, Ms Taylor said.

“Waste is an important issue for our communities, environment and district. How we deal with waste will shape the future of our district for generations.”

54 Church St shop manager Noeleen Gillson (right) and her daughter Amber Gillson have sewed at least 70 reusable shopping bags so far for customers to use.

She said while the district was generally doing a good job managing its rubbish and recycling, there were always ways to improve.

“As a district, we need to keep looking forward and challenging our current practices to really make a difference.”

Mackenzie residents can give feedback on the draft plan between July 30 and September 3, through a public submission process.

For more stories on what South Canterbury residents are doing to reduce waste and single-use items, check out page 2 & 3 this week’s Courier either in hard copy or online here.