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Meet everyday environmentalist Neville Whitlock

News

18/12/2023

3 mins read

Meet everyday environmentalist Neville Whitlock

How would you describe your job to your family or friends in terms they can easily understand?


A while back, one of our team members came up with the perfect answer to this question. They said they thought of themselves as an everyday environmentalist. It struck a chord and spurred our search for the Everyday Environmentalists at Enviro NZ who inspire us by making looking after the environment easier for others.


Today we profile Wellington driver Neville Whitlock, who embodies our company’s environmental values. Teaming high-viz workwear with a bow tie and carnation buttonhole, he cuts a bit of dash on his glass recycling run.


Neville is used to drawing stares in public. For many years, he has travelled around the Hutt in a low-riding velomobile. Or as he puts it, “I’m the guy with the crazy silver fish shaped bike."


After a long career in the public service, he changed gears when he joined Enviro NZ’s kerbside collections team in 2022.


“I was in my previous job for 39 years. Apparently, the rules are if I can do that job, I need to do this job for 39 years. So I’ll be 96 when I retire,” he joked.


“This job aligns with my personal beliefs. My criteria is a job that is meaningful, has a purpose to it. What we’re doing needs to be done,” said Neville.


He is a lifelong committed recycler. “I will recycle anything I possibly can. I was thinking about this yesterday morning before I came down to work. I was washing out a peanut butter jar. Unwashed peanut butter jars are one of my pet hates. That does not go into my truck.


“Ironically, my wife and I got married years ago and when we started going out, we’d stop somewhere for afternoon tea. And I asked the café waitress, ‘do you recycle the plastic here?’ No, they didn’t. So I thought, ‘I’ll take it home’. And unbeknownst to me, Lesley was thinking, ‘Could I live with this?’."


Switching a desk job for a physical role has brought many health benefits.


“Before I came here, I was on my doctor’s watchlist because of being pre-diabetic. Since I’ve been here, I’ve dropped about 10 kgs. I wasn’t drastically overweight to begin with. The nature of driving a LEV [a low-entry vehicle, used in collections], you’re in and out of the cab.


“I recommend it for anybody. I’m too lazy to go to the gym. The health and wellbeing thing is absolutely ideal."


Glass crates weigh between 10 to 15 kilos when they are full. “You have to jump out of the truck, pick them up, put them on the side of the truck, sort them into clears, greens, browns. I’ll leave the contamination, put the crate back and off you go.”


Neville’s manager Richard MacKenzie said: “For those who have met Neville they will know him as a real character, but what they may not know is his passion for the environment and doing what is right."


Neville can be relied on to lead a great discussion around recycling and reuse practices at team meetings, said Richard. “He’s the recycling police on site and will inspect the bins to make sure they are compliant and will remove recycling from the waste and make sure that they are in the correct bins."


He is always finding ways to beneficially reuse materials, said Richard. “Whether it is his upcycled projects for his lifestyle property like a greenhouse made from old glass showers that would have otherwise ended up in landfill, educating and encouraging residents, or providing certain beer bottles to other homebrew enthusiasts so they can be reused."


“His most visible example of everyday environmentalism is his fold up bike. Neville always completes his route with his trusty fold up bike secured in his cab and you’ll often see him riding to or from our service provider to collect or drop off his truck.”


Thanks Neville for all you’re doing to leave New Zealand’s environment in a better place for future generations.

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