The Scoop on Sustainability: When in New Zealand, do as the Kiwis do
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
When asked what the best part of my semester in New Zealand was, without hesitation I reply: the people. I was fortunate to meet many so many inspiring people from all over the world while being part of a sustainable learning community. Our studies led us through the country, meeting new faces along the way.
But it wasn’t just about meeting new people; it was about learning what those people are doing to achieve sustainability. It was clear that Kiwis (New Zealanders, not to be confused with the fruit or the bird) love their country and are willing to do the hard work necessary to protect their unique and diverse environment.
Here’s a taste of New Zealand’s faces of sustainability:
Matthew Luxon and his wife challenged themselves to divert 100 percent of their home landfill waste for one rubbish-free year. Through a combination of recycling, composting and careful purchasing, Matthew and his wife produced only 4.5 pounds of landfill waste. Compare that to an average NZ couple that sends about 3,000lbs of waste to the landfill! Matthew and his wife continue to live rubbish-free post the one-year challenge.
Wiremu Wanoa, representing his local tribe, has spearheaded an effort to protect and restore his family’s land by creating the Tangikaroro Nature Park. This unique park will be a mainland island sanctuary that will sustain threatened indigenous species, and provide a fully protected area for the reintroduction of rare and endangered plant and animal species.
Linden and Richard Moyle have dedicated their retirement to living a simpler life while establishing a “continuous cover” native forest. The Moyles grow their own native trees for transplant, trap mammalian pests, and manually remove invasive plant species. With a list of hundreds of projects, the Moyles constantly welcome volunteers into their home, providing great hospitality and conversation.
Bill Ballantine is a marine biologist, grassroots activist, and the father of marine reserves. Ballantine was heavily involved in the six-year fight to enact New Zealand’s Marine Reserve Act in 1971 and was pivotal in the campaign to create New Zealand’s first marine reserve at the Leigh Marine Laboratory in 1977. Marine reserves are now considered to be a critical way to protect marine resources both in NZ and internationally.
Seeing individuals making powerful contributions to a more sustainable future for our planet has been an inspiration to both me and my peers.
Putting a face to sustainability has helped to rekindle my passion for proving that a successful society doesn’t need to come at an irreparable cost to the environment. All we need is for more people to lead by example, just like our friends down under.
A junior environmental conservation studies and ecogastronomy dual major, Susan Torman recently returned from a semester in New Zealand through the Eco-Quest program.