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Stepping to a sustainable future

4 December 2007 Media Statement

Stepping to a sustainable future – challenge launch

Prime Minister Helen Clark today invited all New Zealanders to take steps for sustainability when she launched the Sustainability Challenge and a new interactive Sustainability Portal in Wellington today.

"We all need to be part of making our country truly sustainable,” Helen Clark said. “This new interactive website is about giving each of us practical information about what we can do to help.”

"The benefits of individuals taking steps for sustainability flow far beyond the environment. Taking steps like insulating our homes, inflating car tyres correctly, and walking short distances ― can save us money and/or make us healthier or safer.

"The challenge specifically asks New Zealanders ‘What’s your next step?' Everyone can play a part by taking a step towards sustainability which works for their lifestyle. The aim of this challenge is to have as many steps as possible registered on the new online Sustainability Portal in the run-up to New Zealand hosting World Environment Day next June 5.

The launch also comes as the United Nations negotiations on climate change post 2012 get under way in Bali this week.

“New Zealand is making real commitments to tackling climate change now and after 2012 within a broad international framework.

“The Labour-led Government’s move to introduce an emissions trading scheme and other measures to tackle New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions gives us credibility internationally and helps safeguard our markets for goods and services. Increasingly, consumers in first world markets want to know whether what they are buying is sustainably produced.

"The new Sustainability Portal contains tips about the steps we can take for sustainability, and online activities such as competitions, discussions, case studies, films, and blogs. There is also local and central government information on support and grants to help households to become more sustainable.

Helen Clark was the first to register a sustainable step at www.sustainability.govt.nz today, deciding to take reuseable bags to the supermarket.

Environment Minister Trevor Mallard also registered a sustainable step of buying products with less packaging, or with packaging that is able to be recycled.

"The Sustainability Challenge is part of the bigger picture of around 170 sustainability initiatives by government agencies now underway targeting action at many levels from the household to the international arena – all part of the Labour-led Government's goal of New Zealand being the first truly sustainable country," Trevor Mallard said.

"Households have a significant impact on the environment – they consume 35 per cent of the energy generated in New Zealand. So everyone agreeing to take small steps could make a big difference. For instance, if every New Zealand household replaced their four most used light bulbs with energy saving eco-bulbs we would save $113 million every year. So a small step for sustainability is definitely not to be sniffed at."


Background information

Otari School was chosen for the launch of the Sustainability Challenge and Sustainability Portal because of the many sustainable actions the pupils are already taking. They have planted a vegetable garden, participated in air and water action programmes and taken other schools on guided tours of their neighbouring reserve.

The Sustainability Challenge is supported by the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council, and will lead into World Environment Day to be hosted in Wellington on 5 June 2008.

Other sustainability initiatives announced by the Prime Minister in February 2007 include business partnerships for sustainability, waste minimisation and management, moving towards a carbon neutral public service, sustainable government procurement, enhanced eco-verification and household sustainability.

Suggested Sustainable Steps include:
 I’ll buy products with less packaging or recyclable packaging
 I’ll recycle all my paper, plastics, bottles and tins
 I’ll take reuseable bags to the supermarket
 I’ll fix leaking taps
 I’ll turn off the tap while brushing my teeth
 I’ll take shorter showers
 I’ll only switch on the washing machine or dishwasher when they are full
 I’ll use eco-bulbs
 I’ll switch off all my appliances at the wall
 I’ll cold wash my clothes and dry them on the line
 I’ll wrap my hot water cylinder with insulation
 I’ll design my new house to face the sun
 I’ll buy a fuel efficient car
 I’ll walk my kids to school instead of driving them
 I’ll cycle or catch the bus to work
 I’ll keep my car tyres inflated to the correct level
 I’ll conserve fuel by sticking to the speed limit

Sign up at www.sustainability.govt.nz and commit to taking action today.
Sustainability Challenge Tip Sheet

Did you know that New Zealand households use nearly 35 per cent of the energy generated in New Zealand?

Ready to take your next step towards sustainability and want to know where to start?

These tips are here to help.

Rubbish

Did you know: New Zealanders throw away around 3.6 million tonnes of rubbish every year. If we were to measure this in 9 tonne buses it would equate to 400,000 buses of rubbish - that's more than 1000 buses every day.
(Source: MfE http://www.reducerubbish.govt.nz/)

Steps you can take:

 I’ll buy products with less packaging or recyclable packaging
 I’ll recycle all my paper, plastics, bottles and tins
 I’ll take reuseable bags to the supermarket
 I’ll start a compost bin

Water

Did you know: In New Zealand we use 180-300 litres of water per person per day – that’s 18 to 30 buckets a day.
(Source: Dr Maggie Lawton, Braidwood Consulting, a company providing research information on sustainable approaches to water).


Steps you can take:

 I’ll fix leaking taps
 I’ll turn off the tap while brushing my teeth
 I’ll take shorter showers
 I’ll only switch on the washing machine or dishwasher when they are full
 I’ll use a bucket to clean the car

Energy

Did you know: If every New Zealand household replaced their four most used light bulbs with eco-bulbs, we would save about $113 million a year. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority estimates that around half New Zealand households have already taken this step.
(Source:EECA)

Steps you can take:

 I’ll use eco-bulbs
 I’ll switch off all my appliances at the wall
 I’ll turn my hot water cylinder down to 55 0C
 I’ll cold wash my clothes and dry them on the line


Building

Did you know: About six tonnes of waste is generated during the construction of an average three-bedroom home.
(Source: Smarterhomes http://www.smarterhomes.org.nz/construction)

Steps you can take:

 I’ll consider using recycled materials when I renovate my home
 I’ll trim the trees back from the windows
 I’ll wrap my hot water cylinder with insulation
 I’ll design my new house to face the sun

Transport

Did you know: New Zealanders use an average of 10 barrels of petroleum products per person per year, most of this is used for transport.
(Source: MED Energy Data File June 2007 page 35 http://www.med.govt.nz/upload/48437/006-200707-d.pdf)


Steps you can take:

 I’ll buy a fuel efficient car
 I’ll walk my kids to school instead of driving them
 I’ll cycle or catch the bus to work
 I’ll keep my car tyres inflated to the correct level
 I’ll stick to the speed limit

Sign up at www.sustainability.govt.nz from midday, 4 December.


ENDS

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