Kate Meads was recently labelled New Zealand's own waste-free warrior and is a very humorous and motivating speaker. Kate runs waste free parenting workshops all over New Zealand and is a well-known advocate of modern cloth nappies, subsequently giving her the title of The Nappy Lady.
Have you always lived a waste-free lifestyle?
Heck no. I was one of the worst consumers as a new parent. We went from one small bag of rubbish per week as two fulltime working adults to a giant wheelie bin every week after Daniel arrived. Over the past thirteen years we have introduced compost bins, worm farms, gardens, and dog poo composters. We recycle properly, we have thirty-five fruit trees, and I always look for the zero waste packaging options while shopping.
What inspired you to live your life this way?
When my son was born and I started using cloth nappies I realised how much waste we had been creating from a single use disposable product. So we decided to give reusable nappies a go. I realised that the decisions that I was making at the time would have a huge effect on my son’s generation. Over the past ten years we have seen how much impact our obsession with convenience has become. Now we are faced with a massive task to solve the problems we have created in a very short amount of time. The only way we can change the current outcome for our kids is by us taking on the responsibility to leave this place better than we made it.
Why do you love most about your job and public speaking?
I love making my seminars funny, hard hitting, and a total reality check. My favourite part is making people laugh. I love seeing the audience having a great time, and going home inspired to make change.
What advice would you offer to people wanting to reduce their waste?
Start somewhere. It is not possible to become a waste-free home overnight but you can do it one step at a time. Perhaps the first step is simply washing out your recycling correctly so it can be recycled.
What are some of the easiest things for people to give up when first transitioning to a waste-free lifestyle?
Often everyone sees the problem of waste as insurmountable, but I love the opportunity to empower people to make small changes. Some of the easiest things to change in your lifestyle are simple things like:
- Becoming a conscious consumer – look for fruits and vegetables with zero packaging
- Take your own bags to the supermarket
- Shop at Bin Inn with your own containers
- Don’t accept plastic straws
- Use a reusable takeaway coffee cup
- Use a compost bin to eliminate food waste from landfill
- Try using one cloth nappy per day - that adds up to 365 nappies per year that don’t go into landfill
What are the first steps people should take when they are considering going waste-free?
Do one thing each day! If every New Zealander did one thing to reduce waste every day (like refusing one plastic bag, or re-using a cup), then 4.5 million pieces of rubbish would be saved from going to landfill.
What environmental trends do you foresee coming about in 2018/19?
I see people are becoming more aware of the issues we are now facing as a result of our consumption. So I think the public pressure will increase toward government banning single use plastics and there will be a greater demand for more waste reducing alternatives.
Kate will be speaking at the Baby Show in Auckland this year (17 – 19 August, ASB Showgrounds), so don’t miss the chance to gain firsthand insights from The Nappy Lady on reducing waste, as well as exploring which nappy is best for your baby. Tickets to the Baby Show are available from www.babyshow.co.nz
What are you looking forward to about being at the Baby Show?
I always enjoy getting the opportunity to chat to new and expecting parents about reducing waste with a new baby in the house. When you are pregnant you are educating yourself on massive life changes and you begin to think about the future of your little one. So, this is a great time to implement small changes that will benefit the next generation. This year I will be streaming live interviews with brands and organisations around Auckland that are working in the local communities to help others.
What will you be speaking about there?
This year I will speak about reusable nappies and how to pick the right one for your baby. There are so many different styles and brands that parents get overwhelmed so I will dispel myths and give advice on getting started. I like to encourage parents to just have a go with the reusables when they are at home. Every time you use a cloth nappy it is another disposable that doesn’t go to landfill.
See you at the show!