Make the most of waste by the Auckland Council

#choosetorefuse – July’s buzzword for a plastic-free Aotearoa

How we can make it happen in our workplace

Published: Friday 5 July 2019

'Choose to refuse' is the new buzzword in Auckland.  Have you heard about it in your workplace?  It’s the call to action from Plastic Free July Aotearoa, encouraging us to refuse single-use plastic and reduce our plastic waste. Millions of people from more than 170 countries are part of the global movement to turn the tide on plastic polluting our oceans, streets, and countryside.

“We’ve all seen single-use plastic littering our beaches and waterways.  It’s shocking for us to hear forecasts that there will be as much plastic as there are fish in the oceans by 2050,” says Councillor Penny Hulse, Chair of the Environment and Community Committee.

“The great news is that, as consumers, we can do things to stop this from becoming a reality. The choices we make about what and how much we buy directly impacts on the amount of rubbish and recyclables that are created, and where it ends up.”

“As the world faces challenges in recycling large volumes of certain plastics, we all need to be thinking about reduction not just recycling. Together, we can make a difference.”

An easy place to start at work is setting up a lunchbox library. Take those unclaimed reusable containers left in the lunchroom or pick up some lunchboxes from an op shop; print out a sign and put it on the cupboard door in the work kitchen.

Then when we go out for sushi or takeaways, it’s easy to grab a lunchbox and use that instead. Go next level and get some reusable cutlery or chopsticks and a bottle of soya sauce for a completely plastic-free lunch.

July’s buzzword for a plastic-free Aotearoa

Do lunchbox libraries work?

Auckland Council started up a lunchbox library at council staff kitchens at their Bledisloe and Albert Street offices in July 2018.  Local cafes and eateries support the initiative, with some offering discounted food to those who bring their own container. 

Parul Sood, Programme Director - Waste Solutions says, “This Plastic Free July, we are going all out to encourage our people to use the lunchbox library and remind them to take one of the containers when they are heading to buy something for lunch.”

“We are working towards reducing our in-house office waste by 60 per cent by 2024, so this initiative is a step on the way to cutting single-use plastic containers from our waste stream.”

July’s buzzword for a plastic-free Aotearoa (1)

Other ways you can encourage your work mates to ditch the plastic packaging

Cup Library for coffees

Encourage staff to take a real cup with them when they get their coffee or issue them all with a branded reusable coffee cup. It helps to have a list of cafes within walking distance who offer a discount for bringing your own cup on the staff noticeboard.  Talking to local cafes to see if they would be prepared to do this also helps. Find the nearest UYOC (Use Your Own Cup) cafes here.

Reusable bags library

For staff who are popping out to do some lunchtime shopping have a cloth bag library so they can grab a bag, avoid any single-use bag and return it at a later date.

Plastic Free July Aotearoa

Auckland Council are supporting Plastic Free July Aotearoa and encouraging Aucklanders to take simple, daily actions to create long-lasting habits that minimise single-use plastic waste and improve recycling practices. 

For more details and tips on how to eliminate plastic from your life visit www.plasticfreejuly.org or check out the Plastic Free July Aotearoa Facebook page.

For more ideas on how to get your workplace involved during Plastic Free July check here.