The Rising Tide
Global temperatures are rising and countries are increasingly moving to tackle climate change head on. An Air Force flight steward, conscious of the emissions coming from the aircraft she works in, decided to join the fight and help create sustainable policies for the organisation.
“Sustainability and the Air Force don’t really go together so I guess that’s how I started getting into it, because I’m aware how heavy the impact of aircraft is on the environment,” Corporal (CPL) Hayley Watson said.
She started researching the subject and was inspired by work already being taken on by Base Auckland’s Sustainability Committee.
“When I first started flying we were using plastic cups for cold drinks and paper cups for hot drinks. They scrapped that altogether a few years ago and started using compostable paper for everything. Since then a colleague and I have been working on getting a recycling scheme implemented, which is a big thing and it’s really awesome to see that being taken on board.”
CPL Watson and some colleagues started working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) creating a recycling programme for international flights.
“MPI said as long as there was no food on items that could be recycled, that was fine. So that was a big change in policy going from everything needing to be incinerated from an international flight to a lot of items able to be recycled.”
The scheme has been going for nearly a year, she said. A difference is being made, but there is still work to go to convince everyone of its value.
“We’re still in the phase of convincing people climate change is real. You look at what Greta Thunberg has been doing, which is amazing, but still you see people sharing her posts mocking her strikes.
“But I think people are starting to wake up to it and I think social media is a huge influencer of that.”
Ultimately CPL Watson would like to see a zero waste as a policy across the Defence Force.
“Hopefully we can make enough changes that minimise the effects the aircraft have on the environment.
“The Auckland Sustainability Committee has a full operation of intent and zero waste is a big thing for us. I would also like people to think about what they can do in their own work space to make a difference, in all camps and bases.”