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Sustainable Living In NZ Just Got Easier

17 May 2007

Sustainable Living In NZ Just Got Easier

Today's Budget announcement of funding for 'household sustainability' education and information at Ministry for the Environment has been welcomed by the local government Sustainable Living Programme, which is already operating in over 20 regions and districts.

“This is really exciting for us, because we can further extend our programme on Sustainable Living. Our programme has grown dramatically with everyone’s interest in doing more to minimize their effects on the environment, especially in the wake of all the climate change issues,“ says NZ programme manager Annie McDonald, Education Officer at Marlborough District Council, where the programme was started five years ago.

The Sustainable Living Programme runs evening class series, practical workshop sessions and a website www.sustainableliving.org.nz to help New Zealanders live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. "Often people also save dollars and help their health in the process," adds Annie McDonald.

The website features practical tips and actions to help you make better decisions about choices affecting the environment, when shopping, travelling or running a house and garden. It has a quiz on the issues behind the need for action. Visitors can register online for more information on Sustainable Living courses that are being run in many towns and cities, and find a links page there to many other NZ and international websites about sustainability.

As media coverage has increased on human impacts of environmental change, and also through referrals from a website supporting the recent WA$TED TV3 programme, registrations of interest are flowing in from the public. More courses are being planned as a result by Christchurch-based national coordinator, Rhys Taylor (phone 03 960 2656).

Regional and district councils currently subscribing to Sustainable Living Programme, and providing support for courses locally (delivered independently by REAP, High Schools, WEA, Environment Centres, or others), include: Bay of Plenty, Dunedin, Central Otago, Christchurch, Environment Canterbury, Kaikoura, Marlborough, Masterton (with Carterton and South Wairarapa), Nelson, North Shore City, Palmerston North, Southland, Tasman, Environment Waikato, Waitakere, and West Coast Region. In addition, the programme is being tested by schools or environment centres at Hastings, Napier, Wellington and Taranaki. Several more councils in North and South Islands have indicated they will join the programme in July 2007.

Topics covered on the website, and at the classes, include electricity savings, waste reduction, eco-shopping tips, changing travel habits, alternatives to toxic chemicals, efficient water use, gardening with nature, composting and growing organic food. A new topic on sustainable building is in preparation.

“Although we have noticed that even established ‘greenies’ can find new things to learn, the majority of course participants are not green pioneers but busy working people, often a parent or grandparent who just wants to do the right thing for the environment,” Rhys Taylor says.

Evaluation of the programme so far, in conjunction with Landcare Research Ltd., has shown that creating healthier homes and saving money on shopping and power bills are strong encouragements to learning. For the hundreds of participants involved in early stages, learning about Sustainable Living has proven to be fun, affordable and practical. As stated by one recent participant: “It shows you how each of the small lifestyle changes or choices add up to a big difference for the environment “


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