Total serendipity – Meeting Ollie Milliner of Conscious Consumers – waste minimisation


I didn’t set out to meet Ollie Milliner Bay of Plenty Coordinator of Conscious Consumers or find out about this hospitality focused sustainability and recycling initiative. I went to the wrong place – I thought I was going to the gallery next door.

While he did escort me to meet Marti Reed and view the quirky and sometimes out-there work of Gibsons Gallery and Studio, there was no way Ollie was going to let me get away without knowing all about this particular aspect of his consultancy work. He’s an incredibly pleasant and engaging advocate for sustainability.

In a nutshell Conscious Consumers is a waste minimisation, ethical and sustainable product initiative focused on the hospitality industry – think cafes, restaurants etc. As well as a practical initiative to reduce waste it’s also a business accreditation scheme so that we the consumer can locate sustainable and ethical product using business operators. My understanding is that there is central and local government funding support.

Ollie takes me to a cafe in the Mount main street and there prominently displayed is the Conscious Consumer accreditation certificate with indications in the areas the cafe is compliant. It’s a bit like the Heart Foundation “tick” system. In a world of business red tape and regulation this seems one set of requirements that can make everybody smile. Years ago I was in London during a strike by the “rubbish collectors” – piles of rubbish up against walls and the smell – they could well have done with Ollie and waste minimisation.

I’ve been getting bags of coffee grounds from a highly successful central Tauranga cafe from the longtime environmentalist parent of the owners – I put them into the compost and around the pot plants and vegetables. The Weekend Sun of Friday 12 September 2014 also has an article about a new coffee grounds composting scheme to take an estimated 58 tonnes a year of grounds from local cafes. They’ll be added to the green waste compost mix at the Te Maunga resource recovery park. The article says the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has a Waste Resource Advisory Group – “a fund to make the most of the region’s waste resources” I also love the Tauranga City Council waste minimisation effort that’s at the back of the library – inside the fence is a giant worm farm.

I’ve seen what happens in urban areas if the rubbish isn’t dealt to. Take a look at and check out the app that’s being developed so you can easily locate a participating cafe or hospo business. And as Ollie’s card says” Choose your world.

Rosemary Balu


About Author

Leave A Reply