The environmental champions that work at Litefoot

Our staff – lovingly dubbed ‘The Litefooters’ – work everyday to help community groups reduce their impact on our environment. Their jobs keep them informed on the latest developments and let them know the effects of our everyday actions. While this certainly doesn’t mean they are immune to having an impact themselves (everybody does after all) they are being enabled to make informed choices.

Here’s what they are most passionate about and actions they are taking in their everyday lives to live on a small a footprint as possible. If all of us do a little, together we can achieve a lot.

 Maike:

Take it step by step.

"Apart from eating rarely any meat these days and trying to use my car less, I’ve recently focussed a lot on reducing my plastic use. For the past 2 years I haven’t bought a single bottle of shampoo, conditioner or lotion, but instead use bars or refill my old containers. I go to a bulk food store to stock up on dry foods and don’t leave the house without my reusable bottle and coffee cup.

Unfortunately, it’s really hard to cut out plastics altogether, e.g. I still struggle with cheese and snacks packaging. I’ve found that tackling it one problem item at a time facilitates the process, so my advice is to take it step by step to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of plastic in our life and giving up completely."

Antonia:

“I love touching earth. Growing my own food in the garden without any chemicals or machineries involved is incredibly satisfying. There is nothing better than skipping a trip to the supermarket and instead go into the garden with a bowl, fill it and cook up a storm in the kitchen, knowing that all the goodness that goes into my meals is just that: homegrown goodness.

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By growing food, I also have a heightened appreciation for getting as many nutrients back into my soil as possible. This I achieve by composting and reusing all those food scraps through our beloved worm farm. It’s the perfect sustainable cycle: eating homegrown food, and then feed the soil with the leftover scraps.

Along with the food satisfaction that comes with the veggie patch, I also get to spend quality time in the garden, soak up the sunshine and say hello to the native birds (I’m okay with the nerdiness factor). “

  

Paddy:

“After a few years of living in London, the idea of owning a car seemed alien to me. The British are well known for complaining about the weather, public transport and pretty much everything else. However, 6 months of living in car-crazed Auckland has made me feel extremely grateful for the London underground. Yes, its lack of air conditioning in the summer results in the occasional light-headedness and yes, the appeal of having multiple armpits in your face is far from ideal, but at least cars are being taken off the road.

Aucklanders love to complain about the traffic, but many refuse to use the public transport available. In a country where environmental conservation is a primary focus, it seems strange that its people rely so heavily on big diesel cars that pollute our beautiful city.

It’s true that the city has expanded exponentially in recent years and infrastructure growth for public transport has not quite matched this, but this is changing and the mindset of Aucklanders needs to change, too. That’s why my commitment to the environment is not owning a car.

 
Car-pooling, electric vehicles, public transport, walking and cycling are all fairly easy environmentally friendly substitutes for our favourite gas-guzzling friends. 
 

Jean-Baptiste:

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I have been trying to reduce my environmental impact by cooking myself as much as I can, avoiding pre-packaged and store-bought food. I try to choose foods without plastic packaging and give preference to small traders and producers, for example by going to short-circuit shops (producer to consumer), fresh markets, or my parents' garden.

When cooking I avoid food waste as much as I can, for example by using vegetable skins to make broths. Minimising the amount of dishes I use for cooking saves water to clean them in the process. I do this by for example cooking vegetables in the fat left in the pan after frying the meat instead of dirtying another hob.

I have also reduced the amount of meat I am eating. Instead of lots of (cheap) meat, I choose higher quality, and less of it.

Did you know that with only two potatoes, flour and an egg you can make enough gnocchi for 6 people? It’s the truth, ask my teammates! In addition to being delicious, it's economical and plastic-free. Once cooking time is over I carry all my green waste to the compost or give it to my hens. They love it and make me beautiful eggs in return!

Thorsten:

I have no reason to claim any credit for what has been done to create the eco-friendly environment around the house I live in in suburban Belmont, but I’ve learned to appreciate all the smart, sustainable choices that have been made by its creators (my wonderful housemates Jennifer & Craig).

Everywhere you look there are productive plants.

One thing in particular that I am very grateful for being involved in is the garden that to an extend brings us self-sufficiency for food. The vegetable and fruit plot is large by anyone’s standards: potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, silverbeet, zucchini, beans, all sorts of cabbages, lemons, apples, bananas, oranges and much more.

Everywhere you look there are productive plants. Weeds are planted to protect the soil and conserve moisture. Two piles of compost, a hungry bin and the occasional rat, bird or other little creature caught by our beloved house cat help fertilise the garden’s soil. All organic waste (including food waste, hair, nails, dust, etc.) of three households feed the compost stations resulting in a valuable additive for the next generation of food. A rain water capture system helps irrigating the plants even through the dry summer months. All in all a thoroughly developed eco-system in a small city garden.


Uday:

In a fast moving world we hardly find time to sit, relax and eat food anymore. We do more and more things on the move. It is becoming an unavoidable habit and adding inadvertently to the waste problem around us.

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The production and consumption of single use items such as takeaway food and drink containers are at an unprecedented level. Instead of addressing behavioural issues attached to this unconscious consumption, somehow, we have managed to undermine the real problem and focus on product related issues. As a result, we have become dependent on recyclable or compostable single use items. In reality, these products don’t help much. Recyclables mostly end up in landfills or contaminate the recycling bins if there is any food or oil left in the box. On the other hand, compostable containers need land to grow crops for their raw materials, and facilities to compost.

One of the best ways to not be a part of the problem is by using containers that can be used again and again. “Bring your own containers” has been gaining acceptance among food retailers. Along with the innovation, we also need motivation to avoid constantly being in a rush and drink our coffee from a good old crockery cup.

Antonia Gerlach