A growing co-operative of Whangamata and Thames people have taken the initiative to cut food waste from landfill.
Moanatairi School has a compost bin that could service the whole community — and it's thinking about doing just that.
Led by gardener Clare Nankivell, students have "rubbish monitors" who collect food waste from classes and the staff room, adding to their compost, worm farms and bokashi bins.
The Menz Shed in Thames are environmental leaders involved, too, with Tony Winters helping in the garden while Thames store the Green Grocer also partners with them, delivering leaves and vegetable waste.
The students have gardening day every Thursday. Last week Zero Waste showed what to reduce, reuse or compost and a session on reducing rural waste.
Moanatairi School won a sustainability grant to establish the composting system. It's so successful the system might be able to service its wider community.
"We're discussing how we can increase the amount we compost and had the idea of getting in touch with locals around the school to contribute to it. It could be a fundraising initiative for us to sell compost," said Julie White.
Shaked From from Thames Food Waste Minimisation said more than 60 per cent of food and organic waste goes in the general rubbish bags in our district.
He says Ruapehu District Council has shown a small council like TCDC with numerous settlements and high holiday populations can successfully reduce food waste through a collection.
In support of Ruapehu's Zero Waste 2040 vision, its service runs alongside its existing blue bin recycling and pink rubbish bag service.
"All these little community initiatives are great but the bottom line is we need council to take ownership of it. If Ruapehu can do it, we can do it."
Helen McCabe, Kathleen Wyle, Jane Mabbott and Mavic Base are among those on the Whangamata Resource Recovery Trust making it easy for others to be part of the movement.
They've started a pottle swap — a way to collect and empty others' food scraps into compost and worm farms owned by other residents in town.
"It's aimed at everyone because it builds awareness of how much food they waste and how they can keep it out of landfill," says McCabe.
"We've had a lot of great feedback."
McCabe has lobbied for years to get a reuse centre going in Whangamata like the highly successful Thames Seagull Centre.
She is now focused on diverting food waste from landfill which, according to audits by Thames-Coromandel District Council, make up the majority of residents' waste.
Pottles filled with food waste can be dropped off to the front gardens at a variety of locations around Whangamata including the Information Centre, Estuary Store, Aspire Refill on Port Rd and residences on Tukere Pl, Barrclough Rd, Mark St, Tamaki Rd and The Drive.
Volunteers from these locations then empty and rinse the pottles back out for people to take home and refill again.
The collected waste is used in compost bins owned by residents.
"Some people have compost barrels that they turn regularly, others have a bin, everyone has their preferred way and they don't have to commit to doing it forever — even a couple of months," McCabe said.
The trust is seeking more composters. "We can give them advice on how it's working for us," she says.
It has also launched a petition with Thames Coromandel Food Waste Re-Source urging TCDC to "seriously and effectively keep food waste out of landfill". The petition is at Action Station.