I’m late with my weigh in again… well I DO weigh in on time but inevitably the write up gets put off pending completion of a bunch of other tasks that were put off earlier. You know… work/writing/meetings/blahblah. Poor blog hasn’t been getting the attention that it deserves. Pat pat. You’ll survive.
SO…. 40gms :) A packet of Huancaina sauce that a good friend brought as a gift from Peru added considerably… sigh. I couldn’t turn it away. Well I could, and I started to… anyways you gotta know the friend I’m talking about to understand.
So on to the tally it went. Oh and an old iphone charge cord that just doesn’t go. Some receipts, and some plastic that was stuffed inside a cardboard delivery box. I decided that I’m going to start weighing the plastic that I pick up when I walk Ella and Benny down the beach to offset that against my plastic waste measurement. A plastic footprint, if you will. So, as I only managed to get in two walks from that decision to weigh in, here’s what I picked up in 2 days – 5kgs. Some of the identifiable objects were jandals, ice cream containers, take away containers, drink bottles, caps, drink bottle rings…some polystyrene meat trays… a lot of plastic bags…. a nappy… a bong…
Yep…. so my waste production for July was 25gms – and I picked up 5kg of plastic from the beach for 2 days (and there’s no way I’m going to be able to do monthly amounts)…. leaving a footprint of -4.6gm.
Even better news though… is that at this stage of the month (late July) I don’t have any plastic waste and am looking at my first truly plastic waste free month. Weehee!
Also, of course, we had Plastic Free July. What started out in Perth a few years ago is now a worldwide event. Here in Gisborne we ran the “Buy One Get One Tree” initiative with 3 cafés – where they kept a tally of every time a customer brought in their own cup for a coffee. For each coffee sold in a reusable cup, the Women’s Native Tree Project planted a tree. Frank and Albies, Morrell’s Bakery and Verve Café all had a shot but it was Frank and Albies that went off the charts with a whopping 430 coffees for the month!
So here’s what that looks like in an infogram.
Thing is… that’s only about 50 trees. In actual fact the nearly 500 trees that we wound up planting for Plastic Free July just wouldn’t of course, fit to scale on that size paper and isn’t that a beautiful thing. If we can make that kind of change in just one month, with three cafés, then imagine what you can do in a year – imagine what you could do with 20 cafés.
This was a pretty easy initiative to roll out – everyone was a winner, really. The cafés got some publicity, the Trust did as well. It was just bringing some synergy to what was already there, and adding some intent. You know… I’ve been thinking a lot about personal power – it’s kind of been a theme for this month. What we were able to achieve through that initiative shows us that we CAN make a big difference, a significant difference, with just a few different choices (or even just one). Here’s one of the planting sessions behind Ohako marae, where rakau were planted as riparian vegetation alongside the Te Arai River.
We can do a lot you know – just with a few small changes.
Here’s another thing that we can do that doesn’t take much but can make a big change… VOTE.
In case you didn’t notice – things are pretty crud. Our whānau are sick and goodness me but our whenua and waterways are very very sick. This government has levelled abuse at Papatūānuku time and time again. Asset sales, the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement, RMA reforms, Freshwater Plans, The Maori Land Act review… all combining to create a more permissive climate for “development” (read: environmental devastation).
Know this: National government have a specific goal and it’s very simple. It’s called short term $$ gains for a very small group of people (and if you’re reading this blog you’re probably not in that group). All at the expense of our water and whenua.
Papatūānuku is under attack and our strongest weapon is coming up on September 20th. National are banking that you won’t use it. For gods sakes, let’s use it.
I get it… I know… we’ve been dicked over time and time again. Native Land Court. Suppression of Rebellion Act, Native Reserves Act. Foreshore and Seabed. The systems and agencies that surround us are biased…. They’re biased when they’re Labour, they’re biased when they’re National. The system is broken and we need to denounce the system. We deserve a better system, one that looks after us better.
Here’s the bitter pill: We have to participate IN the system in order to change the system.
And change has already happened. The beast our grandparents faced was very different to what we face today. It’s no walk in the park… but we have kōhanga reo, we have kura kaupapa, we have Maori seats, we have Māori Television and Radio – and many of these things were helped by those who kept standing up, re-engaging in the struggle, and fighting again.
We’re not beaten. And we’re not victims. We kick ass on the sportsfield. We kick ass on the haka stage. We kick ass in business. And we can kick ass for Papatūānuku too. The John Keys of this world… the Don Brashes, the Bill Englishes, the Judith Collins’, the Gerry Brownlees… they WANT you to feel beaten. They want you to give up. They want you to not vote.
It’s the same with our local councils. We have some very good councillors. And we have some very good people and groups working within councils. But boy do we have some wanker councillors too (and certainly they’re not going to be effectively regulated by environmental legislation). There are some that simply don’t seem to care about the environment unless they’re forced to – and then you have those who would rather serve their own agendas, permit activity that will benefit them and their families and friends and cost the land, cost us, cost future generations… and how do they get away with it?
Enough of us have stopped caring, stopped even looking, for those types to be doing this in broad daylight and getting away with it.
Here’s a few examples:
In Gisborne, we have a couple of VERY good water advisory groups. There are some people on there that care more about industry, but there are also people on there that care a LOT about our water quality. They’re informed and engaged, and are placing pressure on council to take decisive action regarding our waterways.
SO – Taruheru River. Flows through our town and it’s currently, often very very toxic. We have a Taruheru Restoration Plan. However – at the same time our Council is planning to flood the river using a weir so that it can be used as a flatwater sports facility (the feasibility study results still aren’t back yet by the way). Why are we even courting the idea of such large ecological impacts when we can’t even sort out our own wastewater issues?
We also have a Waipaoa restoration plan. YET Council are granting consents for oil and gas exploratory drilling that is undoubtedly negatively impacting upon the tributary streams to the Waipaoa.
Can we have a “Screwed System” Plan?
We say we value our rivers, but then Council consents to more intensive forestry operations, when we already have severe sediment problems.
We have raw sewerage being flushed into our rivers. Our people are falling ill with Giardia. Giardia for crying out loud. When they flush the sewerage into our river, our council say that upgrading our pipe system is a priority. BUT when the vote went to council to prioritise the upgrade, all but three rejected it.
Mayor Meng Foon stood in front of a room full of people and lied last night – saying that we have solved the issue of the ‘para’ in the harbour. No we haven’t. The effluent pipe is still flowing out into the harbour. The wastewater is still being flushed out raw at the same regularity. Nothing has changed. Oh wait… now GDC tell us when it’s happening. That’s changed.
That changed when the people started to pay attention, and call for attention.
This last month we’ve also had a by-election – and lo and behold we have a fresh, young, Maori councillor. Hooray for better representation… Hooray for Maori getting out there to vote and most of all hooray for that being reflected in the results.
The system still needs to change – and just like we effected change in those instances above… just like we effected change to get support for kura kaupapa, kohanga reo and wānanga… we can change these decision making systems too but we need to back ourselves – like we do on the stage….
like we do in sports…
That’s how we have to approach voting, and making change with government. We gotta back ourselves… And you gotta participate. You gotta bug council, let them know that you’re on to them. You gotta keep getting up and fighting. It’s not easy – hell I’m still trying to get the wheels back on our bid for a plastic bag ban in our town (we WILL get there)….
Here’s the other really important thing I’ve got to say about this – yes, we have to keep pressure on the system to change… but we CAN’T WAIT FOR ANYONE TO SAVE US. No law will do that, if we can’t make that fundamental change, ourselves… in our hearts.
Go along to a tree planting project.. Minimise your waste. Take your own coffee cup, and refill your own water bottle. Start a small maara. Go and see if your local marae maara needs a hand. Go for a walk down to your awa. Find out what’s going on with your awa and whenua.
This is a matter of returning to ourselves. Our tipuna were one with the environment. It adorns our wharenui and frames our identity:
We sing of it… we pray of it… we weave it… we paint it… we wear it… we carve it.
We have to step up for it.