Wellington’s recycling conspiracy?

After being irritated for the millionth time that Wellington doesn’t recycle plastic bags, and how much stuff goes into the yellow council rubbish bags, rather than the recycling bin, I decided to do some investigating.

I discovered that the contractor with whom the city contracts all of its recycling does have the capability of recycling grades 1 -7 plastics (excluding 6… which as we know from Food Inc, is nearly impossible to recycle.  Don’t buy anything that comes in or is made of grade 6 plastic!).  Despite the fact that these materials can be recycled, in Wellington, we just send them all to the landfill.


The city doesn’t think it’s an economically worthwhile investment.

Please see below:

From:     Info.atWCC@wcc.govt.nz
Subject:     Recycling
Date:     21 June, 2010 4:37:15 PM GMT+12:00
To:     nicole marie gaston

Dear Nicole,

Thank you for your email received today, Monday 21 June, regarding plastic recycling in Wellington.

We do hope to be able to offer a similar service to our residents, but for the mean time please bear in mind recycling is a commodity, and is thus driven by the economics of the resources. There are increased separating, process and storage costs associated with increasing the number of plastic grades collected.

Having said that, Porirua is currently doing a trial on grades 1-7 with the local processor, AllBrite. Hopefully as a result, the way will be paved and all Wellington residents region-wide can contribute to the increase in landfill diversion.

You may also be interested in our website links to information about recycling, including tips on composting, energy efficiency and water conservation:


For more information on Wellington City Council and our services, please click on the following link to our website:


Your input is valued by us and we thank you for helping to make this city a better place. If we can be of further assistance, Nicole, or you have any questions about the Wellington City Council and our services please call our 24 hour Customer Contact Centre on (04) 499 4444 or email: info@wcc.govt.nz.

Kind regards,

Adrian Rogers
Online Information Co-ordinator
Customer Contact Centre
Citizen Engagement Directorate
Wellington City Council
101 Wakefield St
New Zealand

I think that Sarah Jane Barnett has some really great tips on regarding what we can do to reduce the amount of shit that goes into landfills.  Her ideas of creating a “Packaging Diary” is brilliant.  We all need to be aware of our consumption.  What else can we do?

  1. E-mail the Wellington city council and demand that they divert more plastics from the landfill to the recycling centre!
  2. STOP buying stuff that comes in non-recyclable containers
  3. Bring a re-usable shopping bag with you everywhere you go!

Of course, there is so much more we can call do, but these are just some ways of getting started.

Here is a pattern for making your own fold-up-shopping-bag that fits neatly into your handbag or backpack.  The fancy trimmings and bias tape are totally optional.

I never leave home without the bag I picked up for free from the ALA conference last year.  It’s made of grey nylon and says “University of Chicago Press”, and folds up to be smaller than my wallet!

Another life to be jealous of.

I totally have the most boring life of anyone I know.

My friends Amanda and Dain are building an Earthship in the middle of the New Mexico desert.  Look at where they live, and what they have done.


Umm… I woke up this morning… made tea, some toast, and vacuumed.  It’s grey outside.  I don’t have any friends in this country.  The love of my life is 15,000 kms away.  OH MY GOD WHY DOES MY LIFE SUCK SO MUCH!??!

Oh, and by the way, if you live in the Wellington (New Zealand) region and are looking for a kombucha mother, or scooby, or whatever you want to call it, contact me.  I will have spares every few weeks.

kombucha, the health elixr

The yeasties

Lately I have been into yeast breads.  As previously mentioned, I made bagels a few weeks ago.  Last weekend I made sticky buns, which turned out terrible, otherwise I would have posted about them.  Yes, even old pros can have kitchen failures.  Mostly I blame the oven, or the cat, when something turns out bad.

Yesterday I decided to try to make cinnamon raisin bread. It’s something I have eaten and loved in the past, and my interested was piqued by the recipe in “Joy”.

Cinnamon raisin bread is a common breakfast-bread that is eaten toasted with butter in North America.  It’s a little sweet – but nothing like a banana bread or breakfast cake.  The whole recipe only called for 5 tbs of sugar.

My recipe called for:

1 cup warm milk

1/4 cup water

1 tbs yeast

1 egg

3 tbs sugar

5 tbs butter

3 1/2 cups of flour (I used 1/2 plain, 1/2 whole meal)

You mix your yeast, warm water, and a little sugar, until the mixture gets frothy.  Then the yeast has been activated.

Throw this all in a bread mixer… or knead by hand until elastic.  Then let it rise in a warm place for about 3 or 4 hours. (Sorry these pictures are so dark!)

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, then roll into a 8 x 18 inch rectangle.

Sprinkle with 1 tbs of butter, 2 tbs of sugar mixed with 1 tbs of cinnamon.

As you can see, my rectangle was a little mishapen.

Bring 1/2 cup of raisins in 1 inch of water to a boil, then drain and dry.  Spread them evenly over your rectangle.

Starting with one of the 8 inch sides, roll up the dough tightly.

Place the rolled-up dough, seam-down in a baking dish.  Cover with greased plastic wrap, let rise in a warm place 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 375 F, sprinkle some more sugar & cinnamon on top, and bake for 40 minutes.

Slice, toast, cover in butter, and enjoy!

sometimes my life feels like a sitcom

So, today, I was intending to go to the “Staff Circuit Training” class at the VUW gym at noon.  For some reason at 11:00 I decided to start baking some bread, and sewing a shirt.  Needless to say, I was running out the door, late for class, as per usual.

When I arrived at the gym (at 12’02!) I realised I had forgotten my water bottle on my desk.  I also forgot my water bottle the night before, and felt like a total moron, but whatever, it’s not the end of the world.  I have water and a cupboard full of glasses next to my office.

I went into the class, I began unbuttoning my coat… and then realized that I was actually wearing a bra over my t-shirt and sport-bra.  There was a reason for this.  Since I had been doing some sewing before I left my house, I intentionally put the bra on over my shirt so that I could get an accurate measurement of the size of my bust when wearing a regular bra, for the shirt I was making.  I guess I forgot to take it off in my rush to get out the door.  I debated leaving my coat on… and then somehow managed to unsnap my bra, and wriggle out of it under my coat, and take them both off at the same time, while the 4 men in the room looked at me, waiting for the teacher to arrive.

Then, I went to put on what I call “gym shoes” having grown up in the mid-west USA, but may also be referred to as trainers, runners, etc.  I looked in my bag, and guess what?  Oh, yeah, I forgot those too.  So I had to do burpees in high heels!  Ok, just kidding, I had some slip-on black flats… which were not good for exercising, but at least they weren’t high heels.  I already feel like a wuss because I can barely lift the 15 kg “strength training sack”, while the dudes are all tossing it around like a tennis ball.

Hopefully that is the end of my mishaps for today.  Though I am making dinner tonight… a number of things could go wrong.  I’m sure there are hundreds of sitcom episodes that centre around some kind of kitchen mix-up.  “I thought that jar of cayenne pepper was cinnamon!”

Last week I went to the gym, and after I took my tights off I realized I’d forgotten my shorts.  I was wearing a pencil skirt and tights… I couldn’t work out  in just tights, or just my undies, or the skirt.  I debated just going home and giving up for the evening.  Then, on top of the lockers, I spotted what looked like a pair of board shorts that had been left behind.  They were covered in dust, 2 sizes too small, and really really ugly, but I figured no one would mind, since it seemed like they had been there for ages, I decided they were the “community shorts”.  So, I put them on, and did my 30 minute jog on the treadmill.  After I was done… ok, I’ll admit it, I just threw them back up on top of the lockers! (And they’re still there.)

Anyway, if only the gym had communal showers.  Then I could get caught peeing in the shower, and my life really would be like a Seinfeld episode.  Alas, Vic’s gym has individual showers, so I will have to seek out different ways of emulating television situation comedies.

Mid-winter in Wellington

So, yesterday was June 21st.  In my previous 29 years, this would be the day with the most hours of sunlight.  Here in Wellington it was the shortest day of the year.  I suppose if I look on the bright-side, it means the days will start getting longer now.  And seriously – it’s not that cold.  It’s 9°C today.  It’s gotten down to 0°C once.  People keep moaning and groaning about how absolutely freezing it is… but people in Wellington are a bunch of wimps.  They’ve never experienced a winter in Canada.  People are still wearing flip-flops.

Admittedly, most homes here are not insulated, or not well insulated, so it tends to be almost as cold in people’s homes as it is outside, but really, it’s not that bad.  I’m lucky to live in a well insulated house, and have a warm office.  Otherwise I would probably kill myself because the sun disappears from Holloway Road at about noon.

At our house, we heat the living room, kitchen, and upstairs with a wood fireplace.  In the front of the house, where my room is, and the bathroom, the heat from the fireplace doesn’t penetrate.  So, I have a little electric heater in my room, which does a great job of keeping me warm.

In New Zealand much of the electricity comes from coal.  There are a number of competing electric companies and you don’t have to stick with any one provider.  Which means we get our electricity from a company who are “committed to renewable energy”, and it comes from hydro power and wind-farms around the country.  I don’t know how I feel about the wood-burning fireplace.  Is it environmentally friendly?  Well, I don’t even know how to light the fire in the fireplace, and I never touch it, so it’s not really my concern.  I tried to use it once and it nearly exploded.  Also, I never use the dishwasher.   I’m old sk00l like that.

Anyway, it’s mid-winter here, luckily the sun is shining and it’s not raining.  I still hate it.  I appreciate everyone’s concern for my happiness, but I think I’m committed to not liking Wellington.  At least until September or something.  The first 6 months I spent in Montreal I hated it.  I wanted to quit school and leave.  So, this is totally normal.  Don’t try to change my mind – Wellington sucks and I hate New Zealand.  It’s just not as good as anywhere I’ve ever lived.  Well… it’s maybe on par with Schaumburg… and I spent 18 years there!

When cats attack

Those of you reading who know me well, know that I have no love for cats.  I have never met a cat I liked.  I met a few cats I could tolerate, but mostly I hate them all.

I especially hate the official cat resident of our home on Holloway Road, and its evil friend.  Oliver spends most of his time outside, only coming in to bellow and meow when he is hungry.  Once he has been fed, and our backs turned, Domino, or “Dommy” as the lady next door calls him, will sneak in through the cat door, helping himself to all of Oliver’s food.  Even people who like cats (like Lotte & Louis) don’t like Oliver, and actively dislike Domino.

When we returned home yesterday evening, a chicken carcass was found on the ground next to the stove snatched from the pot of chicken soup that had been cooling.  I didn’t throw it there.  Lotte didn’t throw it there.  Louis didn’t throw it there.  Rata can’t reach the stove.  How did it get there?  There are two possible suspects, though unfortunately we shall never know who the real culprit is.

I am hoping both of them contract feline leukemia or die of natural causes sometime soon.  I hate those cats.

My New Zealand Rant.

Ok, I was just looking at my lovely friend Laurie-Anne’s pictures of her trip to Bali. She is living and working in Badung, Indonesia.  I’m not sure exactly what she is doing, but it probably has something to do with French.  Anyway, wow.  I am so jealous.

New Zealand is so boring.

Why didn’t anyone warn me about how boring trying to do a PhD would be?  Yeah, I knew it would be hard work, but at first moving to New Zealand seemed exciting.  But seriously, it’s not.  It’s like Canada, but without the snow.  And without all the amazing people I knew in Canada (you know who you are!).  And without my superduperspecial lover of sweetness.

What a place to live.  Talk about a cultural void.  In fact, in my opinion, I think all this talk of NZ European/Maori “bi-culturism” is just an excuse for white people to appropriate Maori culture – which I see happening everywhere.  Probably because their own culture is non-existant and, completely monolingual! They need to steal some one else’s cultural identity.  Or rather, the dominant culture is a mixture of all the most boring elements of WASP cultures from Anglophone countries with an emphasis on being politically correct and “culturally sensitive”, to anyone with a REAL culture. Which equals totally boring.  Kind of like Canada with regards to being politically correct, but without any national identity, a totally lame flag, and rugby instead of ice hockey.

I was watching TV (for the first time in this country) a few weeks ago when I was at my Lao friend’s house, and on the music news show, at the end the guy actually said “Stay classy New Zealand!”.  How pathetic is it that a national music news program host has to rip-off a shitty American Will Farrel movie to try to make their program more interesting?

Don’t be fooled, this country is neither interesting nor environmentally friendly!  The “green” New Zealand image is totally false!  They don’t even recycle plastic bags here!  Yet, despite that, hardly anyone brings re-usable shopping bags with them.  As previously mentioned, public transportation is shit and people drive everywhere.

Maybe if you get a chance to get out into the countryside and wilderness and away from all the well-meaning, friendly banal people you can actually experience something worthwhile.  But I certainly haven’t yet.  Unless I get some seriously awesome job offer after I finish my thesis, I don’t intend on staying in this country.

Ok, I have released my anger and frustration.  I will continue to post positive, happy blog entries now.

(p.s. I used Rollip to enhance the photograph above)

(p.p.s. (disclaimer) New Zealanders, please don’t take any offense by any my above statements.  They merely reflect my present state of mind, and are emotionally charged and certainly not objective, therefore irrelevant in a legitimate discourse.  Just give me an opportunity to rant about my own country, or Canada for that matter, I would have far too much to say than could be contained on a single blog posting.)