When I moved to the Bay one of the first questions I asked of Tauranga City Council was "where do I get a kerbside recycling bin?". I was promptly told that I could pay a private company to collect my recycling, or transport it myself to one of two recycling stations in the city.
I was so confused. 'But it's the 21st century', I said. The environment here is so beautiful. Why are we not encouraging locals to look after said environment by recycling?
These are questions that have plagued me intermittently over the past five years. So much so that this time last year I sat down with recycling expert Marty Hoffart, from Waste Watchers, to discuss our city's waste management system.
Read more: Bay rubbish management under review
He explained that no recycling service is ever free. As residents, we all pay for recycling one way or another. At the moment, we pay contractors to collect our kerbside recycling, a system Marty explains is technically cheaper as it means only those who are recycling pay for it.
If we switch to "free" kerbside recycling, which council is considering at the moment, we all pay for it through our rates - whether we actually use the service or not.
While what Marty says means our current system is financially the most sensible, when it comes to recycling and minimising our waste, it's about more than just dollars and cents. There's a psychology to it as well. As a city, and a region, we need to find a way to encourage every single resident to recycle. We need to change our collective mindset so it becomes second nature to separate your waste, reducing what ends up in landfill.
And that's not even getting into organic waste, which accounts for 30 per cent of what our city throws out each year. Yup, you read that right - one-third of what we send to landfill could be composted.
Read more: Work started on second route out of Papamoa
Our local events are leading the nation in waste diversion. Many businesses also work hard to minimise their waste. It's time our council policy caught up and got on board, too.
I'd love to see rates-funded kerbside recycling and organic waste collection. If we make it as easy as possible for people to do the right thing, they're more likely to do so. I don't even mind paying a little more through my rates to make it happen. At the very least it would mean I wouldn't have spent the past week driving round with a boot-load of recycling because I keep forgetting to turn off at the roundabout!