No-nonsense recycling pioneer made the world a better place

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Recycling stalwart Mollie Anderson has died at the age of 91. Photo: North Canterbury News
Recycling stalwart Mollie Anderson has died at the age of 91. Photo: North Canterbury News
Mollie Anderson was a pioneer in recycling.

Her leadership, contribution, passion and dedication to waste minimisation in Amberley and beyond was inspirational.

Mrs Anderson’s enthusiasm for the recycling and waste industry over three decades was well known throughout New Zealand, with many local government politicians familiar with her name and no-nonsense attitude.

Mrs Anderson, who died recently at her home in Broomfield, aged 91, saw waste minimisation as an obligation to preserve our fragile environment, while at the same time sustaining a lifestyle to which we have all become accustomed.

She started a recycling operation in Amberley with a group of locals in the early 1980s, when concerns about the future of landfills began to gain traction.

She and her helpers accepted, sorted and disposed of recycling materials on Saturday mornings, initially from the old fire station, but later at the council depot in Carters Road and the adjoining Frews block, over which a new street now runs, named in her honour.

Mrs Anderson was blunt with her messages to anyone who did not fall into line with her thinking: “If we truly aspire to be green and clean, there is a great deal of work to be done.”

She was a founder of the Amberley and District Residents’ Association, which ran Hurunui Recycling.

As an active volunteer, Mrs Anderson recognised the need to instil good recycling practices in people from a very young age, and wrote four children’s books on waste minimisation.

She hosted school tours at Hurunui Recycling and, with her husband, Andrew, worked tirelessly on waste minimisation tools to help achieve it, as well as finding markets for recyclables.

The recycling shop became a much-loved destination for many in the district who took home many treasures. As they left, more would be dropped off.

A friend and co-worker for many years, Esmay Ellis, said Mrs Anderson was a tenacious, amazing lady who, as part of a group, made recycling happen in the region.

“She was very intelligent. She did the paperwork and we did the hard work. She was good at her job and we all got on well together.”

Ian Taylor, a long-time friend of the family, says Mrs Anderson was a stalwart of the Amberley and District Residents’ Association, and gave advice to people throughout New Zealand who sought her experienced counsel.

‘‘She always had an opinion and there was always a good chat to be had, and not just about rubbish.

‘‘A lot of local people were employed and Mollie had a strong socialist ethic.

‘‘Mollie and Esmay didn’t get anything for the hours they did, but they did pay people to work for them,’’ he says.

Married in 1953, Mrs Anderson died just two days short of celebrating her 67th wedding anniversary with Andrew.

She was a respected teacher at St Margaret’s College in Christchurch, where she was the infant mistress, before returning to their Amberley farm, which they bought in 1974.

She was involved with the Brackenfield Hunt, helping organise its centenary celebration in 1984.

‘‘She loved to be involved in a committee, ringing up and bossing everyone about,’’ says Ian, whose association with the Andersons began in 1975 when the couple ran a small engineering business on their farm, making small vehicles for farmers.

‘‘Mollie got involved helping with the book work and sometimes in the workshop,’’ he says.

Mrs Anderson also wrote a book in the 1960s about vintage cars.

Andrew Anderson is the last remaining founding member of the national Vintage Car Club. When they married, Mollie became the editor of the club’s Beaded Wheels magazine.

They left their farm ‘‘on the hill’’ in 2008 and, for the past 12 years, lived on a small vineyard property at the end of Mound Rd.

Mollie was born at Kaka Point, near Balclutha. She is survived by Andrew and son, Julian.

A memorial gathering is planned when Ministry of Health guidelines permit.

 

 

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