You wouldn't read about it: in the same week that Greens' founding co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons announced she would stand down, it was revealed that the recycling effort within the Beehive was being scaled back.

It must have prompted a grim smile from the woman herself: she's barely out the door of the press conference and they're expanding politic's carbon footprint.

She will doubtless be having a word in the right ear but it has never been her style to make a song and dance; she has been among politics' more notably dignified presences.

It may be argued that dignity has served her cause less than Machiavellian manoeuvring would have. But the Greens survived, indeed prospered, in November while Labour was routed, and their mandate is real and broad-based rather than depending on the MMP anomaly that allows a party with minimal support to ride into Parliament on the coat-tails of a single individual with local recognition.

Her move to the back benches will leave a big gap. Metiria Turei and Sue Bradford, the two likely candidates for her job, both have an irreproachable commitment to social justice causes, but neither is likely to have the same broad appeal, in PR or policy terms, that the outgoing co-leader has effortlessly displayed. In more ways than they may yet know, the Greens are going to miss Fitzsimons.