Waste minimisation goals galvanise sustainability group

The Faculty of Arts Sustainability Group is a small group of seven focused on improving sustainability around their faculty.

The team used the recent national New Zealand Recycling Week to build a week of activities to help improve awareness of recycling and waste minimisation issues.

Recycle Week (15-21 October) encourages initiatives built around different themed days. The team worked with suppliers, student groups, industry leaders and Auckland Council to host a week of events that covered everything from toothbrush recycling to a workshop sharing homemade lotion recipes. Marquee events were two swap meets where students could take home donated goods at Free Things for the Flat and find new clothes at the Clothes Swap

Students love getting free things, and it was great to see so many give household items a new life.

Adrianna Yiu Arts Sustainability Group Chair

In addition to the recycling activities, workshops showed how to compost at home, reuse old or broken jewellery and how to make lotions at home.

On Rinse and Clean Thursday the team set up a dish washing station outside Arts allowing people to use crockery plates and mugs at local retailers Mojo and Ha!Poke. The team then washed customers’ dishes.

Organisers said the talk by Briar Wyatt, University of Auckland masters student, was a highlight of the week. Briar challenged her audience to move away from recycling into waste minimisation.
Anna Ma, Group Services Coordinator explained, “Briar really focused us on the need to be about more than putting a single use water bottle in the recycling bin. Recycling produces waste, we need to think about minimising the waste we produce in the first place.” This concept of waste minimisation has inspired the team for initiatives next year.

While it was great being able to leverage some of the momentum of the national event for the team at the University, the timing, a week before the end of lectures, was inconvenient.

Explained Anna Ma, “While students are interested in the concepts they have no time to engage with the activities.”

With that in mind ideas for next year are already in motion, which in addition to the calendar shift to Semester One, aim to involve more professional staff in the activities. Adrianna said, “The
free things for the flat was so successful and very rewarding.  In 2019 we would like to publicise it so more staff can donate and move it to a more visible part of our campus.”

Also in the group’s sights are the vending machines located around campus. “The solution is not more bins, we need to move away from single use plastics and encourage everyone to carry reusable bottles. The goal has to be less plastic.” said Adrianna. The team are looking at ways to expand and spread their work across Campus. “We need to work more closely with our colleagues in Science who are doing some great work, but truthfully we would love to hear from anyone who wants to get involved.” 

Are you at the University and would like to help in 2019?  Email the team. 

About the Faculty of Arts Sustainability Group.

The group was established for Faculty of Arts staff and PhD students, but as with all volunteer groups others are welcome to help with their initiatives.

The group was established in 2008 and has worked hard over the years to elevate sustainability and promote sustainable practices in the faculty. For a full list of the activities hosted by the Faculty of Arts Sustainability Group visit this years' event listing on the Arts website. Or connect with them through their Facebook page.