Sustainability at The Tauranga Library


March in the Bay of Plenty was a month focused on wide-ranging environmental and sustainability matters. Envirofest, Sustainable Backyards and lots of events, art, information and competitions to increase awareness and knowledge. So the non-fiction display areas of the Tauranga Public Library in Willow Street, Downtown Tauranga have been themed around these topics. As usual I had to do a two-load borrowing. It was worth it – I found so much to increase the benefits of my “home renovations.” Take a look at some of them – they’ll be back on the shelves soon!!

REMAKE IT Home The essential guide to resourceful living With over 500 tricks, tips and inspirational designs

Henrietta Thompson with illustrations by Neal Whittington

Thames & Hudson UK 2009

This compact book has it all. There are five title chapters – Furniture, Storage Lighting & Accessories, Textiles & Soft Furnishings, Cleaning, Appliances & Household Management. Storage gives you some idea – Boxes, drawers, files, hooks, jars, pots, rails & shelves. Furniture gives you no idea that you’ll be looking at Magazine Bench by Menimal (Mexican designer Francisco Cavado Cantu) “A simple steel structure holds the journals – which have been cut into slabs – securely in place.” Or, “Hummer time – Modern military personnel, while serving in far-flung climes, often with only basic accommodation, have become well-versed in the art of makeshift furniture. A recent invention is the “Hummer seat”. A simple wooden box is built, into which the car seat from a no longer serviceable vehicle can be place to make a very comfortable and sturdy chair. Key to making it work is securing the seat-back in place with a bolt to prevent the back from suddenly moving to a reclining position – could be a little embarrassing to endure in front of one’s fellow Marines.”

There are pages of similar “out there” and innovative furniture – even outdoor seating made from recycled tyres – so good it gets stolen ( Tyre Furniture) And, all of this sets the tone for this book which would make the Newmans, local recyclers and innovative “oily-raggers” whoop with delight: – “Band of Marigold – If those trusty washing-up gloves are no longer watertight, worry not; they still have the potential to make very sturdy rubber bands…..”

Most unexpected find in the Cleaning Section was “Heineken WOBO (World Bottle) In 1963, Alfred Heineken had a brilliant idea. On a recent visit to the Caribbean he had seen hundreds of bottles littering the beaches. Noticing that another of the islands’ biggest problems was serious lack of affordable building supplies, he put two and two together and came up with the beer brick. With Dutch architect John Habraken, Heineken designed a glass bottle with a shape that gave it a built-in second life as a building block.” There’s a small image of a simple dwelling. Sounds odd but there must be many people in New Zealand living on the street, in cars and trucks who’d think a bottle-brick house was superb accommodation.

There are photos and wonderful simple illustrations (including one of a home-made fly-catcher). Worth the read not just because it’s been Sustainable Backyards month. This book reveals international examples of sustainable designs and furniture, household hints and is an anytime interesting and worthwhile read.

THE FIRST APARTMENT Book Cool Design for Small Spaces

Kyle Schuneman with Heather Summerville, Photographs by Joe Schmelzer

Clarkson Potter/Publishers New York 2012

I may have reviewed this small space interior décor book before. Do I care? I’m doing it again because it’s so good. Aimed at American apartment dwellers and as its title clearly states “first apartment dwellers” this softcover book, loaded with images and information is another “must read” for New Zealanders old and young-looking to spend some of their lives in smaller spaces.

The content is focused on the needs of individual apartment dwellers. Some of the actual overall results were perhaps too themed for me (“The Preppy”) but it’s the ideas and the way Schuneman goes about getting it all together that’s so fascinating and so useful. He also has an overall repurpose, re-use, recycle, improve ethos which is appealing in sustainability as well as decorator terms.

On a practical level, for renters of the world, I love his how to live with pink bathroom tiles. With very little money and some time spent in local sales a despondent New Zealand renter could achieve a similar effect (irrespective of colour). Time spent in the local Oposhopo’s could also change your lifestyle world. Renting doesn’t need to trap you into a visual/design nightmare – that seems to be the fundamental message of this book. Also that you don’t always need a great deal of money to achieve a pleasant living environment.

This book, like others I’ve reviewed and books on urban design (particularly those on the use of very small and irregularly shaped spaces in places like Japan) have opened my eyes to the possibility of living in other than my present traditionally styled New Zealand home. Reading books about international apartment living and lifestyles has made me realise that life in a ground floor, garden attached “home unit” could be positively luxurious.

Not that I’m suggesting this as an excuse for the current inability of many to obtain decent housing for themselves and their families. What I’m saying is that there is a great deal to learn from other urban dwellers and apartments do not have to be tenements.



Jennifer Hudson

Lawrence King Publishing Ltd UK 2013

“Design is being challenged to develop lasting solutions that achieve a balance between ‘people, planet and profit’. But, in industries built on and pushing the idea of consumption, this is not always straightforward, as large manufacturing companies have to consider commercial viability and factory demands. New attitudes and approaches need to be set in place to change the way a product is devised and for its life-cycle to be re-evaluated in all areas, including how it is eventually disposed of or recycled……” And there is a picture (at Page 59) of a totally stylish bright red chair “Chair, 111 Navy Chair by Emeco made of 65% recycled plastic bottles (think Coca Cola) and 35% glass fibre.” It’s got at least 111 recycled plastic bottles in it! Coca Cola recycles the bottles and creates “a proprietary mix” which is sent to Emeco’s manufacturing plant. And the chair design – well it’s a moulded reproduction of that classical aluminium bar chair.

There are some amazing designs not all are from recycled materials. Like the Hummer Chair described above in Remake It, there’s a Skate Deck Chair created by “father and daughter design team of Land and Amanda Glover”. Recycled skateboard decks, maple plywood and stainless steel.

Outdoors? At Page 82 there’s “Seating, Concrete Chesterfield Sofa, Ian Gray, Glass reinforced concrete. It’s even got squishy concrete seat cushions.

Over the ditch Sarah K and Liane Rossiter of Sydney’s design collective Supercyclers have created translucent plastic bowls. “Supercyclers philosophy is that recycling is a universal concern that can be approached creatively by everybody. By explaining the processes behind the products they make they aim to inspire others to attempt their own versions.” What are the beautiful bowls made of? Plastic bags; they’ve been gently heated in strips and moulded over desired shapes. The range is called Plastic Fantastic. (They wore protective clothing to “guard against the heat source and the low-grade toxic fumes – just including that in case you want to “try this at home”)

This book is highly pictorial with beautiful illustrations, clear text and precise attributions. There’s a huge variety of design items (1000 as it says). It’s a book to own and leave around the house for children and visitors to pick up. Even if you only read three pages you’d be amazed.

Rosemary Balu

Rosemary Balu is a regular contributor to ARTbop and is the founding and current Editor of ARTbop.


Tauranga City Library meets:

3rd Wednesday of every month of 2014 at the Tauranga City Library
10.30am to 11.30am and 5.30pm to 6.30pm

Papamoa Library Book Club meets:
3rd Wednesday of every month of 2014 at Papamoa Library

“Discover new parts of the Tauranga Library with monthly themes and enjoy the company of a friendly group.”

April 15th Non-Fiction

May 20th Large Print

June 17th Risk Taker

July 15th Life Changing Stories

August 19th New Zealand Book Month

September 16th Adventurers

October 21st Heroes + Heroines

November 18th Villians/Crims

December 16th Best of 2015

and get one of the wonderful promotional Book Club bookmarks from the Library counter.


Any one can join the Friends. Annual membership is $10. and members receive six issues of Bookline, the Friends newsletter. Monthly meetings with guest speakers. Friends are volunteers who link the general public and library management; support library initiatives and raise money for special library projects.

Contact: President Barbara Murray Phone 07 579 5378 Secretary Barbara Moore Phone 07 575 6823

Interested in Food & Wine? Tauranga has a WINE & FOOD SOCIETY and it’s open to new members. Telephone Jo Cameron on 548 0655 or Rob Wakelin on 548 0013


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