UC’s Compostable Packaging Trial


Hey UC! Our waste system is changing, and we need your help!

Many of you may have wondered what you can do with the compostable packaging that is available from the cafes on campus.

The Sustainability Office is pleased to offer a solution to some of the compostable packaging options at UC!

The UC Sustainability Office is collaborating with the UCSA, Cleaning Services and other cafes on campus to divert much of our packaging waste from landfill. This trial started in 2013 with takeaway coffee cups, and we have now extended this to include new compostable packaging. We are running a trial on this expanded system for twelve months to gather information on how best to take this project forward.

The blue bins have been placed a strategic points around campus (mostly close to cafes) for the UC community to put their compostable service ware in. The material collected through these bins is then sorted at UC to make sure there is no contamination in them. This process can be time consuming and messy, which is why we need your help to ensure there is no contamination.

Sorted compostable packaging is then sent off with our organics waste to be composted at Living Earth.

Please be careful about what you put in these bins, and follow the instructions on the bin stickers. Even some items that say they are compostable are NOT compostable in Christchurch.

Please remember, these are for compostable packaging only and not for any other items (e.g. pie wrappers, bottles or any other contaminant). This helps to keep the sorting process before we send them away to be very fast and efficient. Please help us keep this project going by telling your colleague and friends about it and not to contaminate the bins!

It is really important to check the new signage on the bins, or the guide above, to see if your packaging will be accepted.

Remember, some types of packaging may say they are compostable, but they are not all accepted in Christchurch by our commercial composting facility!

A quick and easy way to check, is to see if there is anything that looks like plastic on your packaging (regardless of whether it says compostable or not!). If there is, please empty your food waste into the green organics bin, and place the packaging into the red landfill bin.

Packaging that is not accepted into the Blue bins include:

  • Noodle boxes
  • Cardboard boxes with a clear PLA plastic panel
  • Wedge sandwich boxes with a clear PLA plastic panel
  • Clear PLA plastic bowls

anything that looks like plasticnoodle box not accepted

Remember, everything in the Blue bin will be sorted by hand. Please help us by only putting the approved items in these bins, and everything else into organics, landfill or recycling.

Please follow the guide above to be sure, and help make this a success!

For more information, please contact the Sustainability Office: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz or see our Composting at UC webpage.


Welcome to our new Community Garden Coordinator!

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As many of you may know, at the beginning of this term, we welcomed our new Community Garden Coordinator, Rowan Brooks to the team at the Sustainability Office.

A now-familiar face for many of those who have been coming along to our weekly working bees, but for those who have yet to cross paths with Rowan, we thought we would write a brief introduction to share and welcome him to our community.

Having studied ecology, psychology, and being involved in grassroots community projects all around NZ (including community gardens and food co-ops) Rowan is passionate about supporting people to realise their power together and to bring soul into social change.UC 18-0056-37

He has spent time working with the Soil & Health Association NZ (which advocates for organic production and sustainable living), as well as wwoofing in Aotearoa and Europe, and learning from the UK food sovereignty movement.

Rowan has very capably and confidently stepped into the role in the busiest time of the year in the gardens, having begun working in the space right before the University welcomed students back for 2018. The garden is thriving, and he has welcomed over 200 students and community members into the garden this year already!

Currently, one of Rowan’s plans for the garden include the creation of a Compost Club on campus. If you’re interested, please contact him on rowan.brooks@canterbury.ac.nz, and he can invite you to the next Compost Club meeting. This is a new idea, and we are excited to see where it could lead. Our dream is to be able to accept some of the compostable packaging items from the cafes on campus… so if you’re passionate about composting and reducing waste to landfill – be in touch!

We are thrilled to welcome him to the Sustainability Community at UC, and are looking forward to seeing what the year brings.

Interested in becoming a volunteer? We have weekly working bees that run all year, on Friday afternoons from 1pm – 5pm in the summer, and 12pm – 4pm in the winter.

More information on becoming a volunteer with us here!

For more information on our community gardens at UC, check out the dedicated Facebook Page, or see our website for more information.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz


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Lessons from my Zero Waste heroes!

RTHey guys! Varvara here, one of the Sustainability Office’s Eco Volunteers! I put my hand up to do a write up from one of the Sustainability Office’s recent events on campus, so read on to see what I have to say…

Do you ever get the chance to meet your heroes? I did. As part of a campus event I got to meet Hannah and Liam, the couple who have lived for three years without a bin (yes, you read that right) and the couple behind The Rubbish Trip – a zero waste road show offering presentations to community groups, schools, businesses and households about how and why individuals can reduce their waste footprint.

hannah and liam

Hannah and Liam have been on the road for eight and a half months, touring the country and writing up a guide for zero waste living for every region in New Zealand. Having made it to the talk quite early, I sat in a swivelly chair like a child in front of a magician, watching the pair remove everything from toothpaste to dishwashing liquid from their deceptively small backpacks. The array they presented at the front of the room was more than impressive, zero waste usually comes with connotations of being limited, but these guys obviously didn’t get the message. Around twenty jars of toiletries and hygiene products sat proudly on the table – all homemade, all cheap as chips to make. Covering the rest of the table was everything you could possibly think of: sandwich wraps, takeaway containers, crochet produce bags, knitted cloths and thrift store coffee cups. An impressive array, accumulated over a number of years. When talk turned to the beautiful stainless steel takeaway containers, Hannah said, laughing “We used ice cream containers for the longest time. They work perfectly well and are great for a budget. But we thought a steel container would look more legit, you know?”

The talk itself was in two parts. Part one being the reasons why thinking about our waste is important. Part two was dedicated to the practical tips and recipes for actually minimizing your waste.

Undoubtedly, part one of the talk was not for the weak of spirit. No matter how much you think about the environment in your daily life, seeing the impact our species have had on ‘Spaceship Earth’ is immensely disheartening and depressing. Hannah and Liam flicked through their PowerPoint, each slide dominated by images, statistics and quotes from academic literature displaying the sheer magnitude of the pollution problem. The stats were hard to swallow. If (like many of us) you weren’t already aware – there’s estimated to be about 150 million tonnes of plastic in the ocean already, and every year an additional 8 million tonnes flows in.  The fact that has been floating (excuse the pun) around about there being more plastic then fish in the ocean by 2050? That’s true. And speaking of swallowing, seagulls and turtles aren’t the only animals eating plastic. 83% of tap water samples from around the world contain microplastics.

Our culture of disposability has made us blind to its impacts. We emphasize convenience over the health of our planet and, ultimately, over our survival. But surely not all is lost? Well, according to Hannah and Liam, there is hope. One of the slides they put emphasis on was a magazine article from the 1950’s. On the first page a family are pictured throwing dozens of disposable plates and forks in the air. The second page sings praises of the new era of plastic, where dishes do not need to be cleaned but instead can be thrown out. Hannah explained that the fact that disposable products were introduced into our society only fifty years ago shows that it will not take long to phase them out.

And this is where the second part of the talk began…

The couple talked about beginning a zero waste journey, and how to make it as easy as possible. Their main piece of advice was to find a community, whether on social media or in your city. They explained that a community would provide everything from advice and support to car pools to far away stores which carry some of the more niche goods in bulk.

They suggested phasing things out gradually. For example, they advised purchasing or making zero waste replacements for the things you need as you run out of your ordinary products. This will be less overwhelming and give you time to find the replacements that suit you.

If you are unsure of the options for replacements, a simple google search would be a good place to start. The most common and easy replacements can be found very intuitively. Reusable cups, containers and cutlery are great options for eating out. A handkerchief will be a long-lasting and much prettier napkin replacement. For menstrual products the options are endless, with cloth pads, moon cups and more. Disposable razors can be replaced with a safety razor. The list goes on. One only needs to start exploring options.

Hannah and Liam suggested their website, The Rubbish Trip, where they document the best places to purchase zero waste goods in most regions of New Zealand. The call these their Regional Zero Waste Shopping Guides, and these are updated as the couple make their way through New Zealand. Their website is, by the way, amazing. I am so excited for the Christchurch guide to come out, because the amount of options these guys seem to scout out is incredible!



While their talk predominantly dealt with the practicalities of the lifestyle, some of the most inspirational messages about zero waste I’ve ever heard were dropped casually by the pair throughout the talk.

They talked about the fact that zero waste doesn’t have to be difficult, or expensive. True, we need people like Lauren Singer to make zero waste appealing and an ‘aesthetic’, but there’s no one right way to be zero waste. The beauty of it is that you can do what feels best for you, and what is most convenient. Minimizing the waste in your life will be a process. There’s no quick fix, even if you swear off food and drink and sleep in a cardboard box. Aiming for perfection is unproductive. You can aim to be better than you were yesterday.

And that was so important and encouraging to hear. Just like every major transition in life, there will be failures and missteps on your zero waste journey. But ultimately, it will be worth it. Individual action carries infinitely more weight than we give it credit for. You can make a difference. What you choose matters, so choose a future free of pollution and go zero waste. Your planet will thank you.

A few links to get you started:

The Rubbish Trip’s Facebook page

Upcoming events – there could be another one near you soon!

Regional Zero Waste Shopping Guides

Bare Essentials: Recipes for Zero Waste toiletries

Easy Zero Waste food and drink recipes!


A huge thanks to Hannah and Liam for coming to UC to share with us their journey to living a zero waste lifestyle – we all left feeling encouraged, inspired and humbled. Please check out their website, and follow their journey on Facebook – you won’t regret it!

Thanks to our superstar Eco Volunteer Varvara for the write up – we’re glad you enjoyed the Rubbish Trip visit as much as we did!

Bought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz We would love to hear from you!


Dr Bike is back for 2018!

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Dr Bike is back for 2018, and we’ve kicked off as of the 6th March!

This semester, we are running extended Dr Bike sessions, to help you get your bikes ready for the year ahead. You’ll find Olly and Kieran on C Block Lawn, every Tuesday from 12pm – 1.30pm during term time. Come past and say hi, and get your bike looked at while you’re there!

For those who are new to cycling at UC, Dr Bike is a free fix-it clinic for basic bike issues available to both staff and students, funded by the Sustainability Office. This service provides basic maintenance and repairs such as punctures repair, tuning brakes and oiling chains.

If you’re interested in seeing how Dr Bike fits into the bigger picture about planning for cyclists at UC, you might like to look at the draft UC Cycle Plan 2014-2022.

Keep an eye out for these guys on Tuesdays!

Dr Bike 2018 image


New staff and students: Introducing the Sustainability Office!

Kia Ora! Whether you’re new to campus, or been here a while, you may not have realised that UC has its very own Sustainability Office!


We are an on-campus hub for people interested in creating positive change. We promote sustainable practices (like sustainable transport, re-usable cups); inform (about recycling and waste minimisation practices, social or environmental issues) and host events (like Bike Breakfasts, Fair Trade Fortnight and Zero Waste Living!).

We work on a whole bunch of interesting and important issues, from healthy waterways to bike stands, sustainable transport to waste; and last year we are proud to announce we became a Fair Trade Accredited University community (you’ll find only Fair Trade coffee at UCSA cafes on campus!). We also work closely with the UC Eco Clubs network and do innovative projects, like UC’s compositing coffee cups trial.

We also run the UC Community Gardens (join in with a working bee, Fridays 1-5 pm) which is our very own organic garden on campus, and run weekly Dr Bike sessions on C Block Lawn (yes, they will do your small bike repairs for free!).

So, you could say we are pretty busy…


You’ll find us on Level 2, in the Facilities Management building. Or, keep an eye out for us at Ori Market on O Day, Summer Start Up, and UCSA’s Clubs Days during O Week ’18. We are easy to spot, usually next to the Eco Clubs Network stalls, so come along and say hi!

We have a whole bunch of exciting events planned for 2018, so keep your eyes on our website or Facebook page for more information!

We are always keen to hear from you, so if you have an idea, a question, or want to be involved with sustainability on campus – send us an email!

Otherwise, stay connected: follow us on Facebook or Instagram, or check out our website.



Have an ethical and fair trade Christmas!

Trade aid pic

If you’re like us, and realised that Christmas is NEXT WEEK, it’s definitely starting to feel a little overwhelming!  But, fear not, the Sustainability Office has put together this guide to help you have a beautiful, ethical Christmas, with thoughtful gift ideas and tips for enjoying the holidays mindfully.

Christmas is a time of giving. But it’s also a time to use your buying power to support both the people that are important to you and the projects you care about.

We want to challenge you this Christmas, to think critically about what you are really buying for your friends and family. Who actually made this? Where has it come from? What is it made of? What is life like for the person who made this?

Let’s make Christmas more about just giving gifts and spending for the sake of it. Let’s make considered, conscious decisions, and give gifts to our loved ones that they will not only treasure, but are also fair trade, ethical, sustainable, and beautiful.



We’ve attached a few resources to this blog, to help you along the way. Feel free to share this blog with your friends and family, to help them too! We know it’s last minute, but often the best ideas are, right? However you decide to use this guide, we hope it helps you on your journey towards thoughtful living.

Some of my favourite guides and resources to help along the way:

  1. Nozomi Store (side note – my favourite online ethical shop… ever…) and Good Products Cool People (oops, my other fave) have teamed up to bring you the best Ethical Christmas Guide that I have seen yet. Packed with NZ labels that are all ethical, sustainable, and beautiful, this guide is the absolute go-to for gift ideas, and just general inspiration! Check it out below (go full screen).



2.  Good On You – An awesome online resource including a blog, and App (free for IOS and Android – we recommend downloading this for sure!) that allows you to research brands and shop to your values. Check it out before you do any last minute Christmas shopping, you’ll be surprised at what you discover!

Back in 2013 we started talking to people who wanted to buy ‘better’ but didn’t know how. They told us it was too hard to find information about how a brand performed on the issues they care about. So we began building tools to bring this information together in one place in ways that people could easily use – Good On You 2017

Check out the Good On You blog for interesting articles on your favourite brands here.

Here’s some goodies for this time of year: Top ethical gifts for men, and simple ways to give back this holiday season!

And…get the app here! Awesome for not only your Christmas shopping, but also as an every day resource.

And of course, the Ethical Fashion Guide and Report for 2017, from Baptist World Aid and Tearfund. Look no further for updated, detailed information on which companies are doing more to protect their workers. Use it to help you make everyday, ethical purchasing decisions!


Vote with your wallet and encourage more companies to end exploitation in their supply chains.





Ok, so you know how to shop… here’s a few of our favourite spots around Christchurch (and further afield) that stock beautiful, fair trade, ethical products!

Some hot spots for ethical buying in Christchurch (and around New Zealand):

Trade Aid: The best spot for buying Fair Trade, ethical Christmas gifts! Find them in Christchurch at 96 Oxford Terrace (The Container Mall) or have a look at their online shop here. Grocery, homewares, jewellery, Christmas decorations…Trade Aid have it all.

The Paper Rain Project: Another amazing store (with free shipping!) based in Picton. I love this shop because it stocks the perfect amount of fair trade, ethical products, alongside products from local designers (check out the wine barrel skate boards!). See them online here.

The Addington Store: An absolute must visit. A Christchurch institution! Found inside Addington Coffee Co-op (home of Jailbreaker coffee), at 297 Lincoln Road, the Addington Store is a treasure trove ethical products: Trade Aid crafts, jewels, and homewares, the best selection of Scorpio Books imaginable, Freeset T shirts, hoodies and bags, The Loyal Workshop leather products, and just about anything else you can imagine! No online store, but check out their Facebook page here.

Liminal Apparel: The largest stockist for Freeset t shirts, hoodies, long sleeve tees, scarves and bags. Fair trade, organic cotton, and super soft.. you can’t look past these classic tees. Get at them online here.

The Loyal Gift Store: A massive online store that will meet all your Fair Trade, ethical needs… whether it is gifts, or for yourself!

Image result for ethical christmas guide


Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want. – Anna Lappé, activist and writer.

Last but not least: Please don’t forget – the best gifts are ones that come from the heart, and these can be homemade, repurposed, pre-loved, or locally made. This guide is designed to provide a bit of inspiration for where to find ethical gifts this Christmas, but don’t let that stop you from letting your imagination run wild!

At the end of the day, Christmas is really about spending time with the people you care about. Giving gifts is only a tiny part of all the holiday madness- and remember, you can ‘give’ in other ways. Giving your time, giving a hug, giving someone a shoulder to lean on, making a cake, giving a plant or tree, sharing food with those you care about, and giving people a reason to smile – those are all gifts too!

Have a wonderful Christmas, however you are celebrating it. We’ll see you all back in January for another exciting year at the Sustainability Office… boy do we have some treats in store for you!

Safe and happy holidays from all of us.

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This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz





Moving flat? Here’s some tips for doing it Skip Free!

otago skips
The dreaded skip… heading straight for landfill.

It’s that time of year again… suddenly, the year is over, it’s time to shift out of your flat, and you realise how much junk you have managed to accumulate over the last year (or three). So, what are you going to do with it all?

Even if you aren’t leaving Christchurch and your flat for the summer, there is no doubt it is time for a late spring clean out. It can be pretty overwhelming when you realise just how much ‘stuff’ you actually have, and don’t actually need….

The Sustainability Office has put together a few tips and ideas for how to shift out of your flat in the most sustainable way possible! Our goal is to help you reduce the amount of waste that is unnecessarily sent to landfill as a result of moving flats. Read on to find the best places to take your unwanted furniture, household goods, clothing and general bits and bobs (provided it is in clean, useable condition!).

free furniture pic

The ol’ side of the road trick isn’t going to cut it round here anymore, so check out the list below of charities that will gladly take your belongings off your hands, and give to those in need!

We’ve also put together easy ways to clean your flat using every day household ingredients – no need to buy chemicals from the supermarket (which come in so much packaging!) when nothing beats a bit of baking soda and a lemon!

So, where is the best place to start when you are shifting flats, or moving back home?

The best place to begin is definitely the de-clutter phase. There is no use spending time packing up items that you no longer need or use into millions of boxes, only to unpack them at your new place, and still not need them.

But please, lets not just dump it! There are plenty of other options for your unwanted goods. Remember.. your trash could be someone’s treasure….

I would always recommend a ‘box’  system – you can get free boxes from your local supermarket, have a sniff round their cardboard skips! If they are flattened, all you need is some decent tape.

Have bags or boxes for items you want to keep, boxes for things to be donated or given to friends, a box for recycling, and a box for unavoidable rubbish. Be harsh! If you haven’t used or worn something for six months (or forgot you owned it) then in the donation box it goes….


Lets skip the bubble wrap too eh? If you have items that need to be kept safe during the move, wrap them in your clothes instead! The same goes for bags – you don’t need to use plastic bags to shift. Use your reusable supermarket bags, cardboard boxes, your laundry basket, suitcases… get creative! You can cut handles into the sides cardboard boxes to make them easier to carry.

Best places to take your household goods, furniture, clothing and general bits and pieces:

Follow these links below to find charity stores in your area that will accept your second hand goods! Some of them will even pick up your goods (provided they are in acceptable condition, no mouldy couches please) so there is no excuse to take them to the dump!

  1. Salvation Army Family Stores: The closest one to campus is at 355B Riccarton Road – it’s open Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm, and Saturday 9.30am – 2.30pm. Give them a call on 03-341-8539 to check what they will and won’t accept if you are unsure. If that’s not in your area – check out this map of all the Sallies family stores in Christchurch!
  2. Red Cross Shops: The closest Red Cross Shop is at Church Corner – 14 Yaldhurst Road, Sockburn. Open from 10am-430pm Monday – Friday, and from 10am util 2pm Saturdays. They also offer a pick up service, so give them a call on (03)-341-5379 to arrange a pick up, as well as check what they are accepting at this location.
  3. Habitat for Humanity Stores: they have two locations, 189 Waltham Rd, Sydenham and 567 Wairakei Rd, Burnside. They are open Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm, and Saturdays from 10am until 4pm. The best part is – these guys pick up your donated goods,  so no excuse to be lazy! Call them on (03)-420-4342. Clean out your flat, and know that all profits from Habitat for Humanity goes towards building homes for Christchurch families in need. Win-win.
  4. Christchurch City Mission: based in town, the City Mission is another one to contact for a collection service! Give them a call on (03)-365-0635 to arrange a pick up. They will accept household items, clothing, furniture, bedding etc.


Food banks:

Got a pantry full of food you can’t eat in time? Toiletries you don’t need? Try the Christchurch City Mission Food Bank, they gratefully receive food donations (non perishables) if you call or email ahead and arrange a collection. The City Mission sees around 30 families or individuals per day requiring food assistance.

It’s not exactly on this side of town, but check out this awesome initiative that has come out of New Brighton – The Community Fridge and Pantry!  They aim to keep the shelves always stocked for those in need, so if you have any food to giveaway, and a friend who drives over that side of town, then it is a place worth thinking about. They take non perishables too – just make sure food donations are within the use before date.

On that note – have a read here if you want some ideas around reducing food waste and uneaten leftovers in the first place – The Love Food Hate Waste site has heaps of clever ideas about how to reduce the amount of food that is thrown out of NZ households per year (which is 122,547 tonnes!)


Cleaning your flat – it can be cheaper, and less wasteful than you think!

Hopefully, you’ve boxed up your belongings, called your local charity store, and they have taken away those desk chairs, coffee tables, old desks… and you have recycled everything that you possibly can. Now, the dreaded  final clean (possibly the only flat clean?) remains between you, and summer freedom.

Invest in some reusable spray bottles, a ton of budget white vinegar and a box of baking soda, and you’ll be able to clean almost anything! Avoid using paper towels and cloths that come in plastic packaging – cut up any old ratty clothing lying around home and use it as a rag, plus it can be washed and used again!


  1. Disinfectant:
    – Add 10 drops of tea tree oil to 1 litre of white vinegar.
    – Decant into a spray bottle
    – Spray on to surfaces and wipe off with a clean cloth.
    2. Vinegar Window Cleaner:
    – Mix one tablespoon of white vinegar to one litre of water.
    – Using white vinegar when cleaning glass or windows stops awful streaks from grease build-up.
    3. Remove Lime residue:
    – Electric jugs and irons build up lime deposits over time. When they get really bad, fill them with white vinegar and turn them on.
    – Turn off before rinsing.
    – Rinse it out, fill with fresh water and run it again.
    4. Drain Cleaner:
    – Boil two cups of vinegar and pour it down the drain a small amount at a time.
    – Allow the vinegar to remain in the drain for about 5—10 minutes before pouring a pot of very hot water down the drain.
    – The alternative is to use ½ cup of baking soda poured into the drain followed by ½ cup of warm vinegar.
    – Cover the drain and allow to stand for 5—10 minutes before running cold water down the drain.

General cleaning tips:

– Put an open box of baking soda in your fridge. This will help to get rid of any nasty odours.
– Rubbing baking soda directly onto clothing removes the smell of vomit…
– Lemon juice mixed with vinegar and/or baking powder can be used as a cleaning paste for dishes, surfaces and stains.
– Salt poured directly onto carpet can soak up red wine spills!

So there you have it – some tips for making your moving day (or days) as waste free as possible!

Have any waste free moving day tips? We would love to hear them! Send them through to us on Facebook, or email us, we are always keen to hear from you…

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz