Waste comes to life

Since my journey into waste reduction began in 2014 there have been some uncanny instances where bits and pieces from my past experiences and memories have surfaced in relation to waste. Here are three examples:

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Te Rau Puriri Regional Park


One of the beaches that I spent some time at during my childhood was Karekare. I have a clear recollection of looking out of the car window on the way to the beach at the trees alongside the windy roads. I remember being fascinated when someone told me that you can use the leaves to make tea. During the summer of  2014/2015 we walked the track at Te Rau Puriri Regional Park. We stopped and swam at the beach and marvelled at how lucky we are in New Zealand to have such a beautiful landscape. I also noticed the trees near the beach that had fascinated me as a child. I took a few leaves home and found out that they are Kanuka, from here I began making my own creams and balms as a waste reduction measure as well as a renewed fascination with nature’s ability to provide.


Jacques-Louis David. The Death of Marat 1793 Oil on canvas. Royal Museums of Fine Arts Belgium

Image from Google Art Project


In high school one subject I was particularly fond of was art history. When studying the Neo-Classical period we of course looked at the work of Jacques-Louis David. The above painting was shown on a slide and I remember looking at it for a long time and it having an impact on me. I went on to study art history at university, and throughout my studies I didn’t come across this painting and to be honest had forgotten about it. Last year during a waste documentary watching-athon we watched Waste Land. I watched it without any prior knowledge, (yep didn’t even look closely at the poster). The painting that moved me over 15 years ago features in the documentary and plays an important role in the film literally and symbolically. Not only did the imagery move me again, but equally moving was how waste was infiltrating into my forgotten joys.

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Recently I made a display at my local library to promote a waste free parenting workshop that the waste reduction group I belong to was hosting. Whilst I was putting up the display I saw my science teacher from high school. Let’s just say I wasn’t the best student and didn’t and still don’t have a science-y bone in my body. She commented to say that it was good to see I was putting science towards something worth while. It felt good to redeem my lack of enthusiasm for science class with the work I am now involved with.

People often ask how did I come into waste. I tend to say it was and continues to be a gradual process of education and experience. However, it’s hard to ignore these signs. I think the waste reduction ethos has always been in my veins and connecting past experiences is one way to know I’m on the right path and to listen to what the world is telling me.