Waging a war on waste

EVER since the Chaser’s TV program ‘War on Waste’, Australians have shown a growing interest in how much waste goes to landfill or ends up in the oceans.

Individuals, councils and businesses alike are doing their bit to do the five R’s – refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle.

Hobart City Council Alderman Helen Burnet has been working with colleagues, including Alderman Bill Harvey, to help spread the message about reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.

Ald Burnet said this year’s Plastic Free July was a good way of highlighting business owners who did their bit in reducing the mountains of waste that could be avoided.

One such business taking up the challenge is Fiori Florist in Sandy Bay.

Owner Holly Ewin lives by the ethos of saying no to unnecessary things and diverting waste to landfill.

“Over the five years I have had Fiori Florist, I’ve worked to progressively introduce procedures to get to where I am now – which is zero waste to landfill – and sourcing all of my products from within Tasmania,” Ms Ewin said.

“Off cuts and greenery are composted, so that’s easy.

“Containers like vases I source from local op-shops, and I encourage my customers to return them rather than just use as a one-off.

“Educating my customers is a crucial part of my work.

“While the stock I carry is not as diverse as it once was when I was importing from the mainland and overseas, I’ve found that people increasingly do care about where their flowers have come from and the conditions they’re grown under.

“Tasmania has a lot to offer, and I get flowers straight from the farms daily.”

Ms Ewin said there was a constant challenge for businesses to think about their bottom line.

“I choose to think about the triple bottom line – of not only the economics, but also social and environmental responsibility,” she said.

“Customers are making that choice and I’ve noticed a definite increase in business since I’ve changed my business model as my personal values have shifted.”

Ald Burnet said she saw it as her role to support businesses to make the shift.

As chairperson of the Hobart Council’s infrastructure committee, she has been heavily involved with the Council’s Zero Waste to Landfill strategy.

“Right now, we are seeing a really positive shift with businesses cutting down the amount of waste that ends up on the tip face,” she said.

“Holly at Fiori Florists is one of many business owners in commercial, retail and hospitality who are working to be part of the solution.

“Other business owners are also very conscientious about not harming the environment, diverting plastics and as much as possible from the waste stream.

“I would like to see a greater number of restaurants separating food scraps for composting services.

“Once it is made easy for customers and staff, with the right type of bin separation, then it becomes routine.”

Ald Burnet is encouraging individuals, schools and businesses to be involved in Plastic Free July.

“Last year, I participated in Plastic Free July,” she said.

“Every day I tried to eliminate plastic from my routine, most of those things have been easy to do consistently – this time, the challenge is yours.”

Caption: Hobart City Council Alderman Helen Burnet, left, with Fiori Florist owner Holly Ewin.