(Video) APPA Panel Discussion – Plastics and the Pandemic: Perspectives from Aotearoa

Published by Liam Prince on

On Thursday 23 July, as part of Plastic Free July 2020, APPA hosted an expert panel discussion, Plastics and the Pandemic: Perspectives from Aotearoa, at Te Papa Tongarewa (Museum of New Zealand) in Wellington. Our panel discussed the post-COVID future of plastics, plastic pollution and the solutions that protect both people and planet. We were joined by four brilliant speakers who gave a short presentation on a topic in their area of expertise.

Full video of the event can be viewed here:

Background to the event:

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic disrupted what had been a growing public appetite to tackle global plastic pollution. The serious public health emergency understandably took our attention, while stringent hygiene measures fuelled an uptake of single-use plastics for PPE, food, drink and other consumer goods packaging.

Aotearoa New Zealand successfully rose to the public health challenge presented by this pandemic with swift and decisive action. We’re now a few months into our ‘new normal’, so it’s timely to reassess the future of plastic production, consumption and pollution, to reignite public appetite to address these issues, and double down on our individual and collective efforts to better understand, mitigate and prevent plastic pollution. APPA believes that New Zealand’s relatively favourable position, globally, places a greater responsibility on us to model a post-covid economic recovery that builds back a healthy, fair and sustainable world, uncontaminated by plastics.

More about the four speakers and their presentations:

Holly Dove (Greenpeace NZ)
“COVID-19, the great Disruptor – who’s taking advantage?”

Holly spoke about the role plastic producers have to help fix the waste crisis. She exposed the opportunism plastic producers displayed by using the pandemic to keep the plastic tap flowing, and discussed what we need to do to turn it off.

Holly has worked as a campaigner and organiser for the last decade, focusing on plastics activism since 2017. She ran the bottle deposit campaign group, The Kiwi Bottle Drive, and now works as a plastics campaigner for Greenpeace New Zealand. She’s passionate about bringing justice to the zero waste movement and campaigning for better producer responsibility so we can turn off the plastic tap at its source.

Te Kawa Robb (Para Kore)
“Titiro whakamuri ki anga whakamua: whakapapa informing waste-free futures”

Te Kawa’s talk explored how traditional art forms and practices are the best-practice model for minimising waste and plastic use, and how going plastic-free is an act of rangatiratanga (self determination) in the face of corporate colonialism.

Te Kawa (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi) is a pāpā, environmental educator, waste consultant, and photographer, who is driven by his passion for the ocean, protecting whakapapa, and learning traditional Māori knowledge and art forms to inform and empower communities to live in sync with the rhythms of taiao (the living environment).

As a kaiārahi for the Māori zero waste organisation, Para Kore, Te Kawa supports whānau and hapū to build resilience through actions informed by ancestral practices and whakapapa (genealogy). He founded Mauri Ora Consulting (http://www.mauriora.org/) to support hapū, rūnanga, NGO’s and GO’s on waste minimisation and environmental education, such as Te Aho Tū Roa, Sustainable Coastlines and the Department of Conservation.

Ali Kirkpatrick (Hopper Refill, Shop & Cafe; Sustain Aotearoa)
“Refill Revolution: how reusable packaging can replace single-use packaging and prevent plastic pollution at source”

Ali talked about about some practical solutions, and barriers, in addressing the plastic crisis in our food and grocery systems, including:

  • Being resourceful by using what is already around us
  • Misconceptions of hygiene and cleanliness in a bulk food refillery setting
  • Upscaling the refillery model (pros and cons)
  • The role that food plays in the Zero Waste Movement

Ali is a mama, a yoga teacher and a grassroots activist who focuses on creating lasting behaviour change through education, humour and long ranty conversations.

Co-founder of Waste-ed and Boomerang Bags Wellington, and current Co-Manager of Hopper – Refill, Shop & Café, she dreams of a world where we are all given the opportunity and the space to understand our deep connection to Mother Earth.

Lorella Doherty (Rethinking Plastic Revolution)
“The Plastic Crisis: Cultivating Change through Artivism”

Lorella’s talk discussed how artwork using waste plastics can help not only to raise awareness of the problem, but also help us feel connected emotionally in ways that give us motivation to take action.

Her key points were:

  • What instigates behavioral change?
  • Creatively transforming data.
  • Conversations, community and connection.
  • Our role of kaitiaki in Aotearoa.

Lorella is a kaitiaki of Aotearoa, creator of Rethinking Plastic Revolution and passionate earth and ocean lover. Lorella inspires others through artivism; murals made from collected beach plastic, talks, events, workshops and campaigns; to connect to and appreciate Papatūānuku, and to rethink throw away plastics.

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Liam Prince

Liam Prince

Chair of APPA // Founding Director, along with partner Hannah Blumhardt, of The Rubbish Trip, a fulltime zero waste roadshow offering presentations and workshops to community groups, schools, organisations and households across New Zealand about how and why individuals can reduce their waste footprint. Our talks are based on our own research and experience having lived without a rubbish bin since the beginning of 2015.

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