Practically Green

Where it all began:

Lets go back a few years to where it all began.

In 2011, we bought a bulk lot of woodturning goods including a lathe off a lovely retiree in Wellington and in his kit there were a variety of woodturning kits included. Stephen had a go turning a few pens to test out the kits and took a few of them to work with him. He had quite a bit of interest in his pens and after quite a few pen orders from his colleagues we decided to turn his hobby into a small business with wood turned pens being the main focus. In March 2012, Archer Originals was born.

Our philosophy was for our products to have a minimal impact on the environment. The timber sourced was either recycled timber or from trees that had been felled by Mother Nature. Our wood shavings were given to local gardeners to spread on their gardens. The little plastic bags that the pen parts came in were given to a local craft jeweler to avoid them going in landfill. Our pens all have disposable cartridges allowing you to replace the cartridge and reuse the pen. It was through thinking about how to reduce the impact to the environment from our business that we started looking at how we were doing this at home also.

At this stage we had just had our second baby so we were going through heaps of nappies and somehow filling up two rubbish bags per week! When the second bag was not quite full we often looked around to see if there was anything else that we could put in to fill it up. Yip, we were pretty wasteful! We did recycle where we could but our recycle bin was pretty small. After starting our business we started making small changes like using our compost bin to dispose of our food and not just plant waste, planted a veggie garden and reduced down the junk that we were buying. We also stopped cramming our rubbish bags full of stuff each week.

When our third child was born I bought two bulk lots of reusable nappies on Trademe after caring for a child at my work who was in them full time finding that they were actually quite easy. We spent $200 on cloth nappies and had both of our boys wearing them during the day. I was surprised at how much waste that switching to cloth nappies reduced. We went from 2 rubbish bags to just over one full bag per week. (These nappies are all going strong over two and a half years later!)

I then attending a Nappy Lady workshop by Kate Meads (now the Waste Free Living Workshop) and was able to learn so much valuable information about cloth nappies and about other amazing reusable options that are available. I began making our own yoghurt again, we bought some beeswax wraps and I started looking into reusable menstrual products. I enjoyed the workshop so much that when Kate was doing a mini nappy workshop at the Baby Show I took hubby along to learn a thing or two with me.

It was after taking my hubby along to this mini workshop that we started making more changes such as building proper veggie gardens, started using cloth day and night including when our boy was at day care, bought reusable nappy liners instead of disposable liners, started composting more seriously, used our beeswax wraps and started fixing what was broken. Soft plastic recycling also became available in Hamilton so each week I started collecting our soft plastics to recycle at our local supermarket.

We then read an article online about a family of five in Auckland who went a whole year only using one rubbish bin. This totally blew us away as we were still producing about three bags of rubbish each fortnight. This article stuck in our heads and we started looking at how we could continue to reduce our waste. What we found was that as motivating and inspiring this article was, seeing the journey unfold and being able to follow the progress would have been useful.

In September 2016 we moved to our new home in Auckland. We were blown away by the recycling system in Auckland and how much you could recycle! We instantly noticed a reduction in our waste with being able to recycle more of our everyday waste. Each week we were putting out one bag of rubbish maximum. This reduction made us think back to the article and we decided to try and see how low we could get our rubbish.

In January 2017 I went from putting out one rubbish bag a week to putting one out fortnightly which was a far cry from the two full bags that we were putting out a year prior to this! We then decided to set our goal for 2018 to be one bin for the entire year sharing our journey through Facebook to not only inspire others, but to also keep us on track. Our hope that was by sharing our changes it would show others how simple small changes to your daily life can make such a big impact to your waste. We love a good challenge and saw this as a great family goal to focus on and teach our children to care for the environment.

We decided that for 2017 we would focus on reducing down our waste and to hopefully iron out any kinks that may prevent us from achieving our goal. We plan to use this year to research products that will help us to achieve next year’s goal and to share them with who ever will listen. We want to highlight the changes that we are making, share how we are doing them, and share the knowledge that we are learning along the way.

It is now May 2017 and we are well and truly on our way to achieving our goal, but we still have so much to go. We have been slowly replacing disposable products with reusable options, have full veggie gardens, fruit trees, compost bins, a worm farm, chickens, a fire pit, and are sharing our journey with friends and family to ensure that they are on board with our goal too. Our waste is down to one bag every couple of weeks so there is still a lot of work to be done to get it down further. Meat trays are still a big part of our waste as a result of spontaneous meals but this is something that we have identified as an area to be improved.

We are looking forward to sharing our journey with anyone who will listen in the hope that it will inspire them to make small changes too. We are excited about the year ahead (and a bit nervous!) and would love input from others to help us make it possible. We are not perfect, this will not be easy, and to be able to achieve our goal we will definitely be put through our paces. The countdown is on!!!
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