Tackling New Zealand’s waste problem by returning to my roots.

In March of 2020, after working 25 years in the high-paced, adrenalin-fuelled world of technology management, I found myself at a crossroads.

Like many people who lost their employment - and their salary - due to the fallout from COVID-19, I faced uncertainty about the future and worried about what may, or may not, come next.

But when the pandemic disrupted my life, I tried to reframe the situation as an opportunity. Many of us gained a renewed sense of perspective when lockdown slowed our busy lives and, for me, it was a period of re-evaluation.

My tech job had been exciting and fast-paced, but was also really demanding, and had definitely taken its toll.  

After taking a little time to rest, recalibrate and have some big conversations with my wife, Liora, I decided to look for more of a sense of purpose in my next chapter.

I’d spent my whole working life as a problem solver, so what problems could I solve next?

I grew up on a farm near Fjordland during the ‘80s, when farmers had been forced to operate ultra-efficiently, or face bankruptcy. Everything was put to good use, and we often had to make do with what we had. My farming roots taught me a lot about efficiency and instilled a deep sense of respect for the health of our land.

The depletion of our soils through generations of intensive farming, combined with the growing problem of landfill emissions into our air and water table are all significant problems to solve.

When I sat back and understood how these issues are related, I saw a chance to make a difference.

Little Buddies was born out of deep concerns around the state of our soils, and in response to the growing problem of poorly managed waste. By diverting organic waste from landfill, we can reduce harmful emissions and safely return valuable nutrients to the soil, as nature intended.

Little Buddies is named for the army of worms that speed up the composting process and produce rich vermicompost, which can then be used to boost soils with valuable minerals, nutrients, and microorganisms.

Composting is a vital part of the solution to our organic waste problem and vermicomposting (worm farming) has the added benefit of returning nutrients to the soil much more quickly than other methods.

We collect waste paper, food scraps and even spent hops and yeast from offices, cafes, restaurants and other businesses in Cambridge and the surrounding area. The waste is converted into a high quality soil conditioner, which is then used on local farms, orchards and gardens.

We’ve created a completely circular system that processes waste locally, without trucking it around the country to mega-facilities, which means less transport, less diesel and lower emissions.

The compost and vermicompost is used to grow the next crop of local goodness and the cycle begins again.

The COVID pandemic was a powerful reminder of how powerful nature can be. It caused many of us to remember that we’re part of this planet’s eco-system, not separate from, or above it.

Little Buddies is my way of showing my own commitment to the health of the planet. By embracing and using ancient, natural processes, we can solve some very contemporary problems.