Waste Reduction Projects

Rarotonga Recycling Centre

In 1996 we established the first Recycling Centre on Rarotonga behind the old “Bond” store at the current location of the CITC supermarket in Panama. We invited all recyclers to operate at this central location and we ran the first Cook Islands “Clean Up the World” campaign to promote “Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. TIS members coordinated the campaign with uniformed organisations in each village. Later, WWF, and then the National Environment Service coordinated annual Clean Up the World campaigns. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning are now managing the landfill and NES in association with WATSAN and private contractors are promoting recycling.

Cloth Bag Campaign

In 1998 it was estimated that over 2 million (2,000,000) plastic bags are used in the Cook Islands. With the help of our Patron Karika Ariki Margaret Taripo, TIS established a partnership with the Cook Islands Girl Guides to sew cloth bags. These were sold for use as shopping bags in place of plastic bags. Sales of the cloth bags went well and awareness was raised but more needs to be done to encourage people to develop a habit of using cloth bags. TIS continues to promote the use of cloth bags and supports the “Say No to Plastic Bags” campaign by the National Environment Service.

Protesting the Trans-shipment of Nuclear Waste

TIS were the national coordinators for the Greenpeace regional petition against the trans-shipment of nuclear waste through the Pacific. We collected 3,000 signatures in 3 days, country-wide.

Worm Farm and Compost Bin school trainings

Reducing the amount of organic waste being burnt or sent to the local land fill just got more innovative through the beneficial processes that compost bins and worm farms possess.

Te Ipukarea Society are currently making their way through all primary and high schools on Rarotonga to conduct worm farm and compost bin trainings on how to look after and maintain a healthy worm farm and compost bin system.

Trainings have been taken to with a lot of interest from both teachers, students and the local community who are wanting to learn more, along with how to own a system of their own.

Once all schools on Rarotonga have been covered the trainings will then start within the outer island schools.

Feeling deflated with pool floatie pile up

Our kids love inflatable pool toys, but not enough it seems to stop them from doing everything in their power to pop them! Not always on purpose of course, but these floaties are made for looks, not durability and often won’t last a week before they are carted off to the landfill.

As we all become more conscious of our plastic waste, is it time to cut back on our obsession with inflatable unicorns and pink flamingos? And just what should you do when your pool inflatable springs a leak?

I’m always banging on about going zero waste, so imagine my guilt when it was my children and their mates who managed to pop several pool floaties, over just one boisterous weekend at the Muri Lodge pool. We came away with a dead donut, a very sad stingray, and 3 limp lilos.

Muri Lodge owner, Fern Miles was happy with my offer to try and find a home for the damaged floaties. She said that many tourists bring pool floaties with them to the Cook Islands only to leave them behind at the end of their holiday. I suspect this is only the tip of the iceberg and wondered if there might be a way to encourage our tourists to buy back their own floaties?

Fortunately, the tireless and talented, Sabine Janneck has brought life back into these deflated floaties by sewing them into nifty bags. As you may know, Sabine and her partner Sascha, are Rarotonga’s eco-warrior heroes. They will make useful things out of almost anything! Their business CIRCLE stands for ‘Cook Islands Recycling Living Environment’ and they are very open to any suggestions on what to make next.
Sabine is known for her artistic bags and purses, painstakingly made from all kinds of plastic rubbish, from chip bags to coffee sachets which are then sewn together with colourful TAV offcuts. During this recent slowdown period, CIRCLE have diversified into making affordable ‘Covid priced’ purses and a huge range of indoor and outdoor furniture made from wooden pallets and offcuts.

This week Sabine came into Te Ipukarea Society office to show us her repurposed floaties. She had managed to create a lovely blue striped lilo shopping bag and two yellow donut purses, complete with sprinkles! Everyone who sees these bags wants to get their hands on one, but Sabine is still in the early days of working on her prototypes. As she always says, ‘one step at a time’.

Sabine’s energy is infectious, I wonder what could be next? Recycled airbed mattresses? Or bags made from old bouncy castles? I would definitely have dibs on those.
Obviously we would prefer if you could patch your damaged pool toys to extend their life, but if you do have some that are beyond repair, why not drop them (clean, please) to us at Te Ipukarea Society office, next door to Bamboo Jacks in Tupapa, or call Sabine on 55238. Rumour is, there is currently a large green inflatable crocodile making its way to our office as we speak!

And don’t forget to support Sabine and Sascha by checking out CIRCLE on Facebook @CookIslandsRecyclingCreations and on Instagram @CircleCooks