A new residential waste solution in the Bay!

Over a third of what we send to landfill is biodegradable. Organic material. You know, natural stuff that isn’t made in a factory.

Our big push recently has been to help businesses compost this part of their waste stream, and we’ve diverted over 100,000 kilograms of this stuff from landfill since we started our B.O.P. compost collection.

But this service isn’t available to residents, as it is in other parts of the country. So we get asked to collect compost from urban and suburban customers all the time. A beautiful demonstration that with a little bit of help, people are generally keen to do the right thing by the planet.

We feel that a residential collection isn’t the most appropriate solution to address biodegradable waste at home. It’s a bit of a band-aid, contributing to that notion that there’s this ‘away’ place, where things are to be thrown. I propose we use a more appropriate technique than microbial composting for this particular issue – vermi-composting aka worm farming.

Instead of charging residential customers $11 per bin to take their biodegradable waste away (like we do with businesses), I propose to close the loop and provide a service where people can be be part of the solution, processing their waste on site for half of that cost per week.

For $25 a month, Why Waste will supply a fully functioning worm farm which can not only divert a households’ food scraps from landfill but convert it into the best fertiliser there is – for them to use at home or to donate to our community garden partners.

The worm farm hire service would include regular visits by a professional vermicomposting expert, yours truly 🙂

The Hungry Bin is our chosen worm farm, and it’s the best there is. Designed and made here in New Zealand, the Hungry Bin is streets ahead of any other type of worm farm – we know cos we’ve got them all up and running at our Permaculture Paradise in Te Puna.

hungry bin

Food Sovereignty – the new narrative for positive change?

Today I want to write about food sovereignty. Almost all of the pressing world issues can be related back to food. I feel it could serve as the narrative which unites the many problems that face not only humanity, but the planet which supports us. The latter consideration might seem a bit idealistic, even altruistic. However any issues which impact the environment will inevitably wind up facing humanity – so if we approach this from a selfish mindset, so be it.

For a long time I used the term ‘food sovereignty’ interchangeably with ‘food security’, wrongly so. Food security was defined at the 1996 World Food Summit to “exist when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”

While I believe the idea of everyone having access to adequate nutrition is a great start, I feel this definition is inherently one-dimensional. It also reeks of neo-liberal consumerism, paying no heed to the future, let alone the plethora of different issues we face right now of equal or more importance than meeting people’s “food preferences for an active and healthy life”

‘Food sovereignty’ takes a more multidimensional approach to addressing a much larger discussion. It holds that people have the right to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and the right to define their own food and agriculture systems. In essence, food security fits within the linear ‘take-make-waste’ economy, while food sovereignty can be applied to the rapidly emerging alternative – the circular economy.

In pictures, you could say that food security holds that food is this:

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 2.57.14 PM


While food sovereignty sees it as this (yup, that’s my backyard):

20140828_152122 (1)

What we eat and the way we eat has so many threads which weave into the socio-economic and environmental fabric of our lives. The story of food reveals so many points in the corporate food system that which expose entire industries which needs redesigning.

The production of food – Transportation – Storage – Wholesaling – Marketing – Retailing – Preparation – Consumption – Disposal of food.

The last of these is no less important to the first and, indeed, is intrinsically linked. The Why Waste compost collection was started because it absolutely had to happen. Before Why Waste, Bay of Plenty businesses had no choice but to send their biodegradable waste to landfill. If you’d like to read about the compost collection, check out our website, however disposal is but one of many crucial threads in the story of our food. The Why Waste project aims to contribute to the wider sociocultural and economic changes we need to make in order to continue to live on this planet.

Stay tuned to hear about the Rock Garden Papamoa, a multi-acre guerrilla garden we’re helping transition into a community hub for knowledge and nutrition. Feel free to like or share this post, hit up Why Waste on Facebook to keep up to date with great news on positive change.

The Dry Dock Cafe

Big ups to Roger and Sandy from the The Dry Dock Cafe for diverting 75kgs/120litres of organic waste from the landfill in just one week!


These guys are such a pleasure to work with and their new cafe extension is looking lush! Check them out on Wharf Street in Tauranga