Walking the sustainability talk

Collaboration . . . Celebrating the launch of the Healthy Home Toolbox are Waitaki District Council chief executive Alex Parmley, Waitaki District Libraries manager Jenny Bean, library supervisor Eileen Armstrong, Network Waitaki customer and community relations manager Michelle MacLean and chief executive Geoff Douch. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Sustainability has been heralded as one of the buzzwords of the last decade, but what does it mean and how can we make sustainability, well, sustainable?

Sustainability has often segued into a solely environmental space, but more broadly viewed, it is a societal goal to meet our own needs without compromising future generations meeting theirs.

Businesses in the Waitaki are continuing to take steps in their sustainability.

That Food Guy, Mark Townsend, is following the example set in Dunedin, of reusable containers for his food truck business. Taste Nature Social Enterprise charitable trust venture, co-ordinated by Brian McFarland, in conjunction with Business South, uses returnable packaging system Again Again, supported by the Dunedin City Council waste fund initiative. This initiative allows you to purchase your takeaway coffee and pie in fully reusable containers, then return the same container for a refill.

Waitaki District Council is currently building provision for waste minimisation, as nationally we aspire to a circular, as opposed to linear, economy.

Waste minimisation is the name of the game!

As part of this programme, the council will be inviting businesses to be ‘‘Waste Free Waitaki Ambassadors’’; complete a waste audit, explore waste-minimisation opportunities, and communicate that transparently with their peers and customers.

Alex Lassiter, founder and chief executive of corporate sustainability advisory company GreenPlaces, echoes this — citing sustainability as 50% science and maths and 50% communication.

The science is, you need to be able to calculate your current operational impact, and find ways to mitigate or minimise that, while still meeting your needs. The communication is your ability to get that across to the other people in your waka, and customers or clients.

Aside from being the right thing to do, being sustainable is good for business. Forbes magazine identified that customers will pay 10% more for a product or service they perceive as being sustainable.

This is so powerful many organisations have invested heavily in “greenwashing” their business. There are some things you can meaningfully do now so your business or family is walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

The Waitaki District Libraries have multiple healthy homes toolboxes that can also be used in the workplace, or check out the council’s Rubbish, Recycling and Waste Minimisation web-page for more resources and sustainability information.

Annually, the Waitaki Waste Minimisation Fund is available for any projects that aim to reduce rubbish going into landfill or prevent it being created in the first place.

Another sustainable choice is choosing to shop local. I won’t say the “C” word, but it is just around the corner. Get a hop on it, and shop local.

Throughout the month of October, whenever you make a local purchase, take a snap and share it to your social media stories with the hashtag #shoptoberoamaru, tag Business South, and the name of the retailer, to be in to win some great prizes. Let’s show off Waitaki.