Each year as plastic-free July approaches, I stop to consider what changes are happening around me, what I'm doing in my daily life and what MTG Hawke's Bay is doing to reduce the amount of single-use and throw-away plastic.
It's been interesting to note the disappearance of plastic straws in many places and conversely watching the new industry of re-usable straws appearing for sale – mostly made of metal or glass from what I've seen.
The removal of plastic bags from supermarkets seems to have happened relatively seamlessly, as many people now take reusable bags with them when shopping and other retailers supply re-usable sturdy brown paper bags.
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An intriguing spin-off is that many people are now buying plastic bags to line their wastepaper baskets and rubbish bins.
I've done a bit of research to see what options are out there for managing rubbish bins without using plastic and it would seem some people now line their bins with newspaper, use heavy paper bags or buy natural corn starch liners.
The biggest issue is how to manage "wet" waste. Compost seems to be the way to go – separating food waste from dry waste so newspaper and paper bags don't turn into a soggy mess.
The community as a whole seems to be taking meaningful steps to make a difference.
At the MTG we've been recycling, including composting, for a few years and we continue with these practices.
We build our exhibition infrastructure out of reusable materials where possible and, with some clever design, have created some object case structures that can be flat-packed when not in use and then reinstalled when required for a new exhibition.
Our team use the Resene's Paint Wise programme to recycle unused paint and always try to find a home for any exhibition materials that are no longer needed.
Where possible, we choose retail products that avoid single-use plastic and sell reusable bags, including our Zero bags made from recycled bottles, and provide brown paper bags for any items purchased.
Our education team uses unwanted items for upcycling projects such as turning plastic bottles into bird feeders, magazines into titiōrea (sticks) for games, old tiles into mosaics, driftwood into hanging sculptures and so on.
One of the challenges the museum has been struggling with for a while was something to replace plastic water bottles. Finally, the right product has been found.
It still looks and acts like a plastic water bottle but is completely made from plant material – making it both recyclable and compostable. They will soon be available in our gift shop, before summer.
On the home front, I've been trying to reduce the number of plastic bottles for various products such as shampoo and conditioner.
I've recently been trying bar products and, while it's taken a bit of getting my head around (figuratively and literally) I'm loving the change, the way my hair feels and having less plastic to dispose of.
There are bar products for almost everything these days and I'll certainly be switching to using more bars rather than plastic bottles in the coming months.
It can be daunting beginning the journey to get rid of plastic, but once you get going it can be a lot of fun and often unleashes creative ideas as you come up with solutions.
There are a lot of clever people out there freely sharing amazing ideas about how to reduce the sea of plastic we're surrounded by so why not give it a try.
• Laura Vodanovich is MTG director.
• Last day of the Screenies Children's International Film Festival. There are still five films screening today. Tickets available through screenies.nz
• School Holiday Programme – Songwriting with tutor Pereri King. Thursday 18 July, 10am–11.30am. Ages 13-16. Tickets available through Eventfinda.
• Exhibition Talk: Project Banaba. Thursday, July 18, 12pm-1pm. All welcome, meet in front foyer. Free event, koha appreciated.
• MTG Movie Club – The Roaring Twenties. MTG Century Theatre, Thursday, July 18 at 6pm. Tickets available through Eventfinda. Friends of MTG receive a discount.
• Winter Art Deco Weekend – Behind the Scenes architecture collection tour. Friday, July 19, 12pm-1pm at our storage facility in Ahuriri. Register on Eventfinda. Free event, koha appreciated.
• Winter Art Deco Weekend – Exhibition Tours. Our guides will take you through the 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake exhibition. Friday, July 19, 11am–12pm and 2pm-3pm. Numbers are limited, please register on Eventfinda. Free event, koha appreciated.
• Winter Art Deco Weekend – Walking Tour. Join a museum curator for a gentle stroll around some of Napier's streets and learn about local iconic buildings designed by architect Louis Hay. Saturday, July 20, 11am–12pm and 2pm-3pm. Sunday, July 21, 11am–12pm. Register on Eventfinda. Free event, koha appreciated.
• Winter Art Deco Weekend – Public Talk. Marine Parade from 1928 to 1938 with historian Michael Fowler. MTG Century Theatre, Saturday, July 20, 3pm-4.30pm. Register through Eventfinda. Free event – koha appreciated.
• NZ Mountain Film & Book Festival. Enjoy an amazing line-up of films. MTG Century Theatre, Saturday, July 20, 7.30pm. Tickets available at MTG front counter or online trybooking.com .
• Free Matariki Family Concert: Toru Whā, Ka Rewa a Matariki. NZ Trio with musician and composer Horomona Horo playing taonga pūoro. MTG Main Foyer, Sunday, July 21, 3.30pm-5pm. Free event – koha appreciated.
• For details, visit www.mtghawkesbay.com