Okere Falls Store can be found on State Highway 33, a scenic 20 minute drive from Rotorua. This unique venue offers a fantastic menu of delicious food 7 days a week but also hosts a gourmet store where you will not only find local, organic produce and European epicurean treats but also a range of reusable, waste reducing, eco products. This summer Sarah Uhl, the drive and passion behind this 15 year old venture, added a new product to the shelves - The Rubbish Whisperer’s reusable water balloons, which have been so popular they have already sold out once!
“Water balloons are heaps of fun but they are complete nightmare in terms of plastic waste. You don’t want to be the Christmas Grinch and say ‘no water fights’ but the ones stocked in the supermarket are ridiculous. When I saw the reusable water balloons on the website I thought ‘they are so cool, what a great solution.”
A set of 3 balloons retail for $24.00 and come in a range of gorgeous bright summer colours. The price is considerably higher than the commercial high street plastic alternatives but are great value when you consider there are no environmental impacts and are handmade in Christchurch by people who are all paid the living wage.
“Christmas is a great time to educate people. This year we have sold lots of reusable coffee cups, straws and produce bags. Giving those gifts encourages people to think and talk about the plastic issue – it becomes a conversation. You can use the commercial side of Christmas to try and encourage change.”
Sarah’s feelings on the recent announcement on the ban on plastic bags in NZ is being echoed across the environmental and eco communities around the globe – “the plastic bags are an amazing start but now we have to start looking at our plastic use more generally. Producers have to change and the government needs to start taxing producers who use unnecessary plastic in their packaging”.
As global consciousness begins to grow about the significance of the world’s plastic problem it is time for us to take a leaf out of Sarah’s book, using occasions like Christmas and birthdays to gift and use reusable products. It is true we can’t fix the issue alone but we can be less culpable and try to encourage others to consider the bigger and more significant journey towards lowering our reliance on plastic.