Naomi Roberts is a passionate advocate for reducing how much rubbish we send to landfill. She works as a WasteWise advisor in communities across Auckland.
How did you get into working with waste?
It all started with a $20 Pak'nSave voucher… and 14 months later I was working to reduce waste for my job!
I was a normal person, busy living life and not thinking about waste at all. I didn’t care and everything just went in the rubbish bin. Then my sister said I should come along to this workshop because you got a $20 voucher.
The workshop turned out to be about waste 101 and was led by a lady called Karen Clifford, whose passion was contagious! We learnt all about the waste problems in Tāmaki Makaurau, including the fact that Auckland’s waste fills a space equivalent to a rugby field (up to the goalposts) every week.
I was shocked about how much rubbish goes to landfill and it really got me thinking about my own life and relationship with waste. Bit by bit I went to more seminars and huis and then became a co-ordinator for a group of ladies at my local waste group – Tāmaki Wrap. During that time, I was sub-contracting to Auckland Council through Envision and I eventually applied to be a WasteWise Advisor.
What does a WasteWise Advisor actually do?
Put simply, we share information with people about how to reduce rubbish. I help people get that lightbulb moment like I had and share tips on how easy it is to start reducing waste at home.
What has surprised you most about working in waste?
I was most surprised that this has become my career and passion! At the beginning when I joined Tāmaki Wrap it was more about being a part of a group that welcomed me, supported me and educated me on waste reduction. Getting involved with a local group and helping your community is so good for your own wellbeing. I’m an example that even if you’re down on your luck you can get any job if you put in the effort.
What’s the one thing you wish everybody knew about waste?
There are so many easy changes you can make to step in the right direction – whether that’s wasting less food, attending a composting workshop or joining your local community group. You can make a difference - and it’s infectious once you start!
To find your local community group and get simple waste reduction tips, visit Make the Most of Waste.