Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. The new Three Rs. But how seriously do we really take this? And how can we encourage more people to instill these rules as a simple habit, rather than a chore?
We got some really useful, practical tips for zero waste that are easy to incorporate into our daily lives from Karen Heron, founder of Earth Probiotic, who says by thinking about waste before we generate it, we can collectively have a huge impact on the war on waste. She adds that being conscious of our environmental impact helps with the choices we make, and therefore the consequences of our actions. Easier said than done? Nope. Not if you start off with these basic tips…
Refuse (say ‘no’)
This sounds easy but often we’re bombarded with packaging we don’t want or can’t get away from. However, if we’re prepared, this is very much easier. For example, choosing loose fruit and veg which come almost package-free. Get yourself a mesh bag for this purpose and remember to take it with you when you head to the shops. Also, always keep a fabric bag in your car to hold your shopping, then refuse the plastic version offered at the store.
Large bags of food produce seem like a bargain and often are … but only if all the contents are used. Otherwise, you’re throwing away good food and money because there was too much of it. Buy only what you need. A planned weekly menu is a great way to help you buy only the items required (and makes for a quick shop). This reduces impulse spending which is often wasteful, especially if produce is forgotten or goes bad before being used.
Most food packaging containers can be used many times over. Use the large yoghurt tubs to freeze stock, home-made dog food and leftovers. Stick a piece of masking tape on the lid for easy labelling. They’re great for storing beads, buttons and for planting seedlings too.
Restyle clothes you no longer wear and update them to create new items. A baggy shirt that was once fashionable can be taken in to begin new life as a fitted shirt. Long skirts or dresses that were an awkward length can be shortened; jeans that mysteriously shrank in length, when lopped off at the hem will now be very fashionable with the ends unravelling. And the cut-off fabric? Use it to patch up dog cushions or old toys. A chipped salad bowl can be given drainage holes and become a useful pot plant holder and old wool or thick string can be knotted, macramé-style, into holding the pot plant.
Much, but not all, the packaging we face today can be recycled into another life. Paper waste needs to be kept clean (from food waste), food waste composted, then all the other dry waste (glass, cans and plastic, once cleaned,) can be added together. Recyclable waste is either picked out of your kerbside bins by informal waste collectors, or separated at a Waste Recycling Facility. Clothes and household items can be recycled easily through friends, family and even at the office as there’s always someone who can make use of these items. Hospice gladly takes almost anything and there are many centres and charities that collect these items, which are sold to raise funds.
You alone are not going to save the world (even though you want to!). But by your actions you’re changing the people around you. They see you and your passion and it’s hard not to want to be you, the queen of recycling. Share your knowledge, money-saving tips (recycling definitely saves cash) and stay brave in your convictions
TAKING RECYCLING SERIOUSLY
Earth Probiotic was started by Karen and Gavin Heron in 2010 with the express purpose of diverting food waste from landfill. One hundred per cent of their products are sourced and manufactured in South Africa. All their products are made from either recycled or upcycled material. Their packaging is recyclable and they’re aiming to make it compostable in the near future. They believe diversity is key to thriving systems, whether they’re a business, a garden, a compost heap, a farm or even a small pond. Everything they sell in their store they use in their home. Earth Probiotic is officially Proudly South African and helps champion the recycling of all organics through different mechanisms in South Africa. Details: earthprobiotic.compond.