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That's rubbish! What can you do......

Written by Anne on August 1st, 2021.      1 comments

That’s rubbish

A recent Happy Horizons blog about the ingredients in shampoo, click here, got me thinking about rubbish.

Beginning at the end of last century, I spent more than 15 years talking and educating people about rubbish. At the beginning of that time I was considered a wee bit odd. However, I knew that I was correct in the supposition that humans were not being kind to the planet and that this would bite us in the proverbial.

Rubbish is created:

  • when resources are extracted from the earth
  • during manufacturing processes
  • during transport of products

When you purchase any product, you have choices about what to do with the rubbish; that could be packaging or in many cases the product itself. Yes that’s right, you buy rubbish that is destined for landfills. The only choice you have about contributing to the rubbish that is produced before you purchase the product is to decide if you really need it, is it repairable, how long is the warranty?

Rubbish impacts the planet and its inhabitants in many ways, including:

  • It pollutes land, air and water
  • It is harmful to human health
  • It is harmful to animals, including fish, insects, mammals
  • Accumulates in the world’s oceans: much of this is micro-beads from some personal hygiene products, microscopic fibres from clothing, microscopic fragments that have broken off from larger pieces of plastic
  • Much of what we buy does not last, is not repairable and has toxic components
  • Toxins from rubbish are insidious and have been found in the tissues of animals and humans

In short rubbish is everywhere and we humans have put it there!

We hear headlines about rubbish and how we should all recycle. I agree that we should recycle but I also believe that we should think about what we are buying. Your trip to the supermarket for example, yes I am sure that you take your reusable bag with you but next time you do the groceries, take a close look at all the packaging that you have purchased in your weekly shop. Much of this is not recyclable in New Zealand. You are spending your hard-earned money on buying rubbish!

The waste hierarchy is
1. reduce
2. reuse
3. recycle
4. recover
5. dispose

Take note that the first step in combating the waste problem is:


There are many ways that we can all do this. The first one is to become aware of what we are buying and what impact it is having. Research Life Cycle Analysis of what you buy. Ask the following questions about any product that you purchase:

  • Do I really need this product?
  • What is this made from?
  • Where was it made?
  • Were people or planet harmed in the manufacture of this product?
  • Can I make a better purchasing choice?
  • What happens at the end of this products life?
  • Is it repairable?

When you find the answers to these questions then start educating family and friends. Inspire them to become a part of the solution.

According to United Nations latest figures the current population of the world is 7.9 billion. That is 7,900,000,000. In 2020 the world population was 6.1 billion. United Nations projections tell us that by 2050 there will be around 10 billion people on the planet. While it is difficult to imagine what this many people would look like let alone imagine the amount of rubbish that many people would produce!

According to, in New Zealand 15.5 million tonnes of waste goes to landfill each year. That equates to 3,200 kg per person.

That is not good. Do you want to make the world a better place for future generations? If the answer is yes, and I am sure it is, then start thinking about how you contribute to this massive problem and what you can do to make a difference. Don’t think “ah well, we live in New Zealand, how can we possibly make a difference?”

I believe that we can all make a difference:

  • Find out the truth about rubbish and what you can do
  • Take action
  • Inspire others
  • There are numerous resources available as websites, documentaries, TED talks, and many more.

Some of my favourites are:

Hawaii Message in the Waves documentary

By becoming aware of the waste that is produced to provide for your life style and making a conscious decision to change this, you will in fact be;

  • Reducing your own carbon footprint
  • Leading by example
  • Contributing to a groundswell of people who really want to ensure the planet is habitable for many future generations
  • Reducing damage to habitats where nature lives

Here is a quote from Jack Johnson:

                     “ An individual action, multiplied by millions, creates global change”

I believe we can all make changes in our lives for the greater good. Understanding the true story about rubbish is a great starting point. The future of us depends on serious collective will and action. Start today and do your bit for the future of people and planet!








Jeanette Shepherd says ...
A thorouly well written article Ann. Modern humans are such wasteful creatures, something that is encouraged by many manufactures who promote 'planned obsolescence' through their advertising, encouraging consumers to buy their 'latest model' which often differs little from the previous one.