It is really not that easy to be truly green

By Nicola Young

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Jack McDonald, candidate for Green Party in Te Tai Hauauru
Jack McDonald, candidate for Green Party in Te Tai Hauauru

My latest hiccup on the road to a more sustainable lifestyle is composting.

At Christmas, I started a Bokashi composting system, diverting my organic waste from the landfill to the garden. Yes, I know I should have been doing this sooner but at least I've started.

Well, I had started but it hasn't yet worked out exactly as planned. The Bokashi system is really easy and odour-free, so up my alley, and the final step is burying the pickled scraps in the garden to break down into soil. But I forgot to factor in my neighbour's delightful labrador puppy that regularly plays at our house - she dug up all the waste, ate it, then vomited it everywhere - and not considerately back into the garden either.

So the next step in greening my lifestyle is building a dog-proof composting area so my Bokashi system can get back to work.

For the time-poor amongst us, I know green action can get pushed down the list.

Plus it's easy to feel vulnerable to criticism when you're not doing everything that you could theoretically do to make a difference.

I spend a few hours each week volunteering for the Green Party - and I love it. But would that time be better spent activating my dormant green thumb and getting my vege garden under control?

Last weekend I caught up with a dear friend from school who I haven't seen for years - she has a spectacular vege garden. It supplies her family with year-round fruit and veges - and it's pretty easy to eat local seasonal produce when you grow it yourself!

Seeing her genuine green lifestyle made me ponder whether my efforts in the Green Party instead of my backyard make me a fraud. I hope not - we all have different strengths and interests and while the garden is not calling me, the election year build-up is!

There are still a few easy things I can do to improve my personal impact though - buy my fruit and veges from the local farmers' market while I await gardening inspiration to strike, take my boys on the bus to the museum instead of using the car. And don't tell my meat-and-three-veg-raised husband but I can slip in one less meat-based meal a week too.

Another simple solution is to buy secondhand sometimes, especially from charity-linked opshops. A couple of my Green buddies have set up a facebook page, The Glam Green Opshop Challenge, to share their success in kitting themselves out in recycled clothing, even while campaigning for the party vote.

All these things add up - they save money, reduce our environmental footprint and strengthen community connections and personal health.

We don't have to wait until we have the time to do it all - choose one small change and know it's a worthwhile step.

A substantial commitment to principles was on TV on Tuesday night - the real life story of Kiwi conscientious objectors in World War One, Field Punishment No 1.

The dramatisation centred on Archibald Baxter, father of poet James K Baxter buried up the river, and the horrific treatment he suffered for refusing to serve in the war when sent to the front line along with 13 other Kiwi pacifists. Seeing the re-enactment of the pain and degrading punishment Baxter and the others endured was disturbing. Baxter was one of only two who did not succumb to the pressure, declining even the role of stretcher-bearer, although you couldn't blame those who did surrender.

Baxter's great great grandson Jack McDonald, 21, is standing for the Green Party in Te Tai Hauauru, our local Maori electorate.

This week in politics, Labour MP Shane Jones announced his plans to step down, taking up a position created by National Minister Murray McCully - I'm unsure what principles may have been bent in this decision or what the repercussions will be for Labour.

Whatever happens to Labour, I'm proud to be supporting McDonald and am sure his great great grandfather would be too.

Nicola Young is a former Department of Conservation manager who now works for global consultancy AECOM. Educated at Wanganui Girls' College, she has a science degree and is the mother of two boys.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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