When Tilani Levenilosa Uluilakepa started her social work placement with ME Family Services back in 2018, she wasn’t thinking much about rubbish. Three years later, the Māngere resident has her own bokashi system going at home, is planning a small vegetable garden, and has become a bit of an ambassador for reducing waste amongst her family and community.
During her three month stint with the Talking Rubbish team, Tilani was introduced to the idea of separating rubbish into different streams- recycling, food waste, soft plastics and landfill. She participated in waste reduction workshops that we were delivering, to businesses and organisations in the Māngere/Ōtāhuhu area, and was soon connecting us to churches and other groups to offer support with their waste. One of our most popular videos on Facebook was a clip of Tilani giving some tips in Tongan about how to reduce waste at home.
After her placement finished, Tilani put her hand up to run her own workshops, with funding from Love Food Hate Waste, and worked with a number of Tongan home-based education groups in the area to talk about food waste issues and explore solutions.
Since then, Tilani has continued on her journey with reducing waste at home, popping back to see the Talking Rubbish team regularly for advice on setting up bokashi and compost bins and starting a garden at home. “Talking Rubbish has supported me not only with material things, but mentally, physically, for the wellbeing of my family. They’ve really helped me out holistically, ” says Tilani.
From putting out an overflowing rubbish bin every week, to only putting her bin out every fortnight, Tilani’s hard work is paying off. Her family have also got on board, and her grown children are now following her example in their own houses. “I’m always telling others to look after the environment”, says Tilani. “When God finished creating the Earth, He said it was good, so it’s our responsibility to keep it that way”.
Written by Justine Skilling, Talking Rubbish, ME Family Services