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Campbell Live

Couple try to create no rubbish for a whole year

Thursday 05 Jun 2008 12:00a.m.

Couple try to create no rubbish for a whole year

Today is World Environment Day, and its theme is 'kick the carbon habit'.

Christchurch couple Waveney Warth and Mathew Luxon already have.  They are attempting to live without creating any rubbish for an entire year.

Since appearing on Campbell Live in February, they have become a sort of poster couple for ethical living, appearing regularly on radio, in newspapers and magazines - but its not all glamour.

Daily rituals in a rubbish free household involve cleaning teeth and cleaning up the environment.

But is that toothpaste?

“It's got baking soda and some salt and some peppermint essence - just for smell.  Just a little bit of taste to make it a little bit digestible because it is a bit odd, to be fair.   What's wrong with normal toothpaste? The packaging - the plastic tube can't be recycled,” says Mathew Luxon.

It is just one of the solutions the couple have found since they began their challenge four months ago.

“When we last spoke to you we were in the throws of changing everything, new habits and it was all quite difficult at first and then we just really plateaued and it became really easy, really normal,” reckons Waveney.

They have been getting used to visiting the produce shop and buying meat from the butcher, and avoiding packaging by bulk-buying.

“So the last two months have been great and then this week it's changed completely again,” says Mathew.

It has changed because the recyclers rang to correct a point about plastic bags.  They will only accept carry bags from the supermarket, no others.

“We think it is going to become a much more difficult now, because we can recycle a lot less than we originally thought,” says Mathew.

So that is a no to recycling the plastic around bacon, bread or cheese.  And it is back to the study to update their website and blogs.

Since they appeared on Campbell live in February, the couple have become a hot media potato.

“We've had heaps of comments from people on the website saying that they're doing the same sort of challenge, maybe not to the same extreme but trying to cut back to a rubbish bag a month or two months,” says Mathew.

Waveney and Mathew started their challenge with one empty bag to cater for any unexpected trash.

So what's in it now?

“This is from when we installed our log burner.  Some cigarette butts from tenants who rented our house - a light bulb, that blew, inevitably, plastic peg, some florist tape - and the tags from clothing,” says Mathew.

And of course the wrapper from the cheese they bought last week will be going in too.

But after puzzling over it, they did manage to install their new wood burner, 'almost' rubbish free

“I got some untreated boxing timber and was then able to pour a concrete slab and hired a grinder and ground that down .  So it's just the paintbrush, we painted some sealant on it,” says Mathew.

The thing that seems to have struck a chord with New Zealanders is how normal the couple are.

They just hope the whole toothpaste thing won't change that!

“Does it work? Works really well - teeth feel so clean! Don't know what the dentists think but we haven't noticed any ill effects, but we'll see in a year - maybe all our teeth will fall out - we'll check back in with you then,” says Mathew.

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