The journey to going greener and living a more conscious life with a lighter footprint on the earth is highly individual. The ethical choices we make are varied and there are so many different routes we can take on this journey. There is no one particular motivation or ethical choice that is better than any other. What is important is that we find our own ways to make sustainable choices that ensure a healthier and happier planet, and people, for generations to come. We got a few useful tips and thoughts from some of SA’s “green experts” to help us on our journey of going greener in 2018.
REDUCE YOUR PLASTIC WASTE
“It’s the year to go plastic-free” says Robyn Smith, founder of Faithful to Nature. “Set the intention to go plastic-free. After that, you’ll find it much easier than you thought to find great alternatives (to plastic)”.
Plastic pollution is an enormous global problem and it’s growing. It’s rather alarming when one sits and considers the amount of plastic waste we generate each day, from our grocery shopping and cooking, to skincare and beauty packaging and disposables. Some might respond that some of this plastic is recyclable. While recycling is growing in SA, by FAR the vast majority of plastic still ends up in landfill. And it’s not biodegradable. Recycling is essentially merely a way to delay plastic’s journey to landfill, it does not prevent it. So, the key is to reduce the actual amount of plastic we consume and discard each day. Consider starting your plastic-free journey by making these 5 small changes:
1. Say no to new plastic at the shopping till. Keep some old plastic bags (yes, we all have some) or other re-usable shopping bags in your car. If you don’t have any, buy a couple of inexpensive reusable bags.
2. Try not to purchase produce wrapped in plastic bags. Instead, select and purchase loose produce items. You can purchase produce bags for shopping and storing your loose produce like those offered by FreshBags or Spaza Homewear.
3. Say no to single-use drinking straws. If you prefer to drink your thick smoothie through a straw, invest in glass straws like those sold be local brand, Restraw.
4. Keep an eco-friendly reusable travel coffee mug with you for your daily coffee run, like the pretty Ecoffee cups available from Faithful to Nature.
5. Cut your consumption of beverages packaged in plastic containers like juice, soda and bottled water.
Here are some reusable items you can use as substitutes for single-use plastics.
1. Restraw Reusable Glass Straws. From top to bottom: Original (220x10mm), R95. Smoothie (220x12mm), R99. Bent (160x50x10mm), R99. BUY
2. Spaza Homeware – 100% Natural Cotton Spaza Produce Bags: Paradise Print, 40cm diameter x 25cm high, R95. BUY
3. FreshBag – 2 Reusable Nylon Mesh Bags. Standard size (pictured), R65. Large, R84. BUY
4. Ecoffee Cup – William Morris: Pomme, 400ml. R235. BUY
5. Ecoffee Cup – Seaweed Marine, 340ml. R219. BUY
7. I Scream & Red Shopper Bag, measuring 48cm high x 45cm wide, R250. Made by a Cape Town based community upliftment project for the disabled and disadvantaged using organic cotton, natural hessian and upcycled flags. BUY
8. Hydro Flask – Hydration Standard 532ml: White, R579. BUY
9. The Waste-Free-Living Kit, R395. The ultimate green living kit for waste-free warriors. The pack includes a Consol glass water bottle, stainless steel straw, bamboo Ecoffee cup and mesh FreshBags. BUY
Visit Faithful to Nature for more product alternatives to help you on your going greener journey. You can also read Faithful to Nature’s A Practical Guide to Plastic Free Living for more useful ideas on how to reduce your plastic waste.
UPCYCLE NON-RECYCLABLE WASTE
Upcycling refers to innovative ways to reduce waste by re-using and re-purposing non-recylcable waste. Founder of Waste-ED, Candice Mostert has been stuffing non-recyclable waste into two litre plastic bottles for over six years to make EcoBricks. The EcoBricks are then used in a wide variety of construction projects from public benches with sea views to toilet blocks and even school buildings in disadvantaged areas. “What is staggering, is that you can fit the non-recyclable contents of two black rubbish bags into just one 2 litre plastic bottle,” Candice says. “While the goal is, of course, to get to a total ban on single-use plastics and non-recyclables such as foil, cling-wrap, most sweet and biscuit wrappers, EcoBricks is a global solution to upcycling community waste.”
Learn more about the local Ecobrick Exchange and how you can get involved in this innovative and socially uplifting upcycling initiative here.
GROW YOUR OWN PRODUCE
“Many dream or talk of having a food garden because we are inspired by the inherent goodness of growing our own food.” says Vanessa Jacobs of Sow Delicious. “Yes, it takes some time spent regularly in the garden, but this is a great, healthy activity for the whole family.” It’s easy if you start small. Many herbs, small vegetable like chilies and tomatoes, salad leaves like lettuce and rocket, and fruits such as strawberries and gooseberries can be grown in pots on a patio or balcony. Locally there are a growing number of green businesses focused on making it easier for us to take our first steps into growing our own produce like Sow Delicious, Microgarden and Reel Gardening.
Here are some useful products to get you started.
1.Microgarden – Smart Indoor Micro Garden, 370 x 285 x 117 mm, R1199. This hydroponic gadget allows you to grow your own herbs and micro greens in your own kitchen year-round without any soil. BUY
2. Sow Delicious Seed Slab – Heirloom Italian Herbs, R70. BUY
3. Microgarden Growbag, 24cm high x 14cm wide. Chives, Basil or Parsley, R72 each. BUY
4. Kitchen Craft – Living Nostalgia Steel Herb Pots with Trays, Cream, 40 x 12 x 10cm, R499. Cream coated steel pots with draining holes, housed in their own water tray, for indoor planting of Sow Delicious herbs and edible flowers. BUY
5. Reel Gardening Grow Pod, 97cm diameter x 30cm high, R440. A convenient kit that contains everything you need for a small, compact vegetable (or herb) garden including seeds and nutrients. BUY
ACTIVELY SUPPORT AN ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSE YOU CARE ABOUT
Become an “active citizen”. We could do so much good on a sustainable basis if we each fully adopt and champion a cause we care about. Become an advocate for a cause you hold dear and find ways to get more involved. The easiest way to do this is to join an organisation. For example, Greenpop is an organisation of ‘treevolutionaries’, which offers companies, schools and individuals opportunities to do more through activism beyond merely making donations. You can volunteer or join community-building events that connect you with others who share similar concerns and interests.
“What we need for a better world is…real sustainable solutions that everyone can be a part of,” Robyn Smith of Faithful to Nature concludes. “We all want less waste and less plastic, better health and greater fulfillment in our day to day lives. It doesn’t really matter whether your ‘thing’ is cruelty free beauty and mine is being vegan, we’re both making ethical choices and being faithful to nature in the way that makes the most sense to us.”
The key message is that we can all make a contribution, no matter how small, to the future health of the planet. Going greener may just require trading some convenience. Please share ways in which you’re going greener with us. We’d love to hear from you and find more ways to inspire ourselves and others to join the journey.
(Related Post: Five simple ways to have a greener Christmas.)
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