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Meet waste champion Winnie Lenihan

Published: 16 September 2016

Most people actually do want to do the right thing with their waste but they’re unaware of how much waste they actually produce or how they can reduce this easily.

How did you get into working with waste?
I live in Grey Lynn and became involved at the conceptual stage with a group called Grey Lynn 2030 Waste Away – it’s part of the local Transition Town Group, Grey Lynn 2030. A neighbour invited me to get involved as she was passionate about reducing waste at a grassroots level and I too caught the bug. The group began with a successful local e-waste collection in a local supermarket car park!
My personal passion infected the family and soon even our then teenagers got on board with their school’s zero-waste target. I was employed by Waste Not Consulting in 2014, where I worked on a council project about food waste. Soon after a job as a WasteWise Advisor with the council came up and that was that!

What does a Waste Advisor do?
I try to engage with Aucklanders and empower them to reduce the amount of waste they produce. This involves working with individuals and community groups to improve recycling, avoid disposables, prevent food waste and compost at home.

What has surprised you most about working in waste?
Most people actually do want to do the right thing with their waste but they’re unaware of how much waste they produce or how they can reduce this easily. The average Aucklander generates around 1 tonne of rubbish per year.

Is there one thing which you wish everybody knew about waste?
I think the fact that’s easiest to visualise is that in Auckland we produce enough waste to fill a rugby field, say Eden Park, up to the goal posts each week. Each week! That statistic should make all of us think more about how much waste we produce as an individual.

Want to play your part in reducing waste?  
A great place to start is recycling right, so take a minute to watch this video on what you can recycle in your bin. 

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Community Environment