Ons Plastiekvrye Julie

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Dit is Julie. Vir ons gesin, was Julie 2017 nie sommer dieselfde as elke ander jaar nie. Dit was ‘Plastic Free July’.  Wat beteken dat ons ‘n ‘eed’ af gelê het om geen ‘single use’ plastiek te gebruik tydens die maand van Julie nie. Ons is nou al van Januarie af besig op hierdie pad na ‘Zero Waste’. Omdat ons baie op die toer, is dit veral ‘n uitdagende taak! Maar dit was so goed vir ons, omdat dit ons forseer het om te beplan, en nee te sê, en regtig te dink voordat ons sommer net iets gekoop het. Ons het dit nie noodwendig 100% reg gekry nie. Maar 99% meer as Mei en Junie. Ek kan my oortreedinge op een hand tel.

Die probleem met plastiek is die volgende: Ja jy kan dit herwin (nie alle plastiek nie), maar wanneer dit een keer herwin word. word dit dalk weer plastiek en kan dálk weer herwin word, indien nie word dit verander in polyester, waarvan baie klere gemaak word, maar polyester is nie herwinbaar nie. Dus is die enigste eindbestemming van plastiek, die ashoop. Of dit nou herwin word of nie.

Die zero waste pad is baie makliker as wat ek aanvanklik gedink het, en met ‘n bietjie beplanning en voorbereiding het ons hierdie maand vêr gekom. Wanneer ons iewers heen ry, of dit net vinnig dorp toe is (ons bly op ‘n plaas 20km van die naaste dorp), en of ons vir 3 weke weg gaan, pak ons die volgende in:

  • Twee vlekvryestaal strooitjies (met ‘n strooitjie skoonmaker)
  • Twee vurke, messe, en teelepels
  • ‘n Paar lap servette
  • Een of twee glas bottels
  • ‘n Waterbottel, vol water
  • ‘n Kosblik
  • ‘n Vadoek
  • Katoen/ ander herbruikbare inkopiesakke
  • Twee herbruikbare koffiekoppies (ons s’n is van ecosoulife en is bioafbreekbaar)
  • ‘n Paar klein tuisgemaakte lap sakkies.
  • ‘n lappie en spuitbotteltjie met water.

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Rommel, die euwel van die mensdom!

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Ek wens soms ek het in ‘n tyd gelewe voor plastiek, voordat alles weggooibaar was en waar mense nog eienaars was van hul besittings. Waar mense minimalisties gelewe het en waar ons waarlik oor die aarde geheers het – as daar ooit so ‘n tyd was. 

My ouma, Agatha Alberts, ‘n skrywer in eie reg, het die volgende geskryf (ek kon dit nie beter stel nie):

Rommel, die euwel van die mensdom!

Almal is onderhewig daaraan. Lewensomstandighede is nie staties – altyd vernuwing: groter, mooier, beter of so word geredeneer. Een aspek daarvan is dat daar altyd “iemande” is wat dink, beplan, ontleed wat die beste metode is om enigiets te bemark.

Meer aantreklike (wat die oog vang), meer higiëniese verpakking vir hantering van voedsel (wat die teergevoeliges sal tevrede stel). Maar alles gaan eintlik net oor geld. Want hoe aantrekliker die verpakking hoe duurder word dieselfde inhoud, en daarna sit die kliënt met hope stukkies kleef plastiek, sakkies, plastiese houertjes, tinfoelie houers wat argeloos in vullisdromme, langs die paaie, in waterstrome en die see gegooi word Die oorvol vullishope is in ‘n liederlike gemors en totaal onhigiënies. Alles wat “disposable” is, is nie noodwendig “perishable” nie!

Die onus op die skouers van die mens wat die verstand en die opdrag gekry het om die AARDE in stand te hou word genegeer as “nie my verantwoordelikheid nie”. Te veel “P.T.” om jou eie afval te organiseer. Meeste artikels kan deesdae omskep word (recycling). Net so’ bietjie dink, omgee, hande uit die moue steek! ‘n Wonderlike, grootse voorreg is aan die mens toevertrou om deel te hê aan die natuur, die skepping en wat ‘n treurige gemors maak die mens daarvan. SAD!!

‘n Bietjie terug op die pad van nou en voorheen

Na die dae toe melk nog by jou voordeur in bottels afgelewer was, toe melk nog MELK was. Jy vleis kon bestel wat keurig gesny was na jou smaak en nie mooi vleis bo en minderwaardige vetvleis , om gewig op te maak, onder nie. Groente wat jy vars by die Portugese groentewinkel kon koop. Nie verpakte items – wat as jy dit nie bestudeer – jy oud en draderige, of smakelose vrugte wat te groen afgepluk is en op die rak moet ryp word, kry nie. Vrugtebome in jou eie agterplaas sodat jy jou eie konfyt kon kook, vrugte in bottels kon inlê, nie reuse swembaddens wat selde gebruik word nie. Meel in sakkies waarvan die sakkies uitgekook word om weer in vadoeke of selfs kledingstukke omskep kon word. Allerhande ander vaardighede wat totaal uitgesterf het. Die mens het eenvoudig te gemaklik geword en nie juis gesteld op kwaliteit nie. Hoe vinniger hoe beter is die motto.

Alles baie eenvoudig, nie bolangse glans, en nie met deesdae se peperduur pryse wat jou laat steier en aanhoudend noop om items op jou lysie te skrap. Miskien eenvoudige gedagtes “but very wholesome”.

Deur Agatha Alberts (86)

Zero Waste Toothpaste

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||The various components compirsing the typical toothpaste tube can include any number of plastics, aluminium, steel and even nylon. For a toothpaste tube to be recycled it means each of these components must be processed separately. So on top of the CO2 pollution involved of the production of each individual tube, it then becomes a very complicated process for the recyclers.

By choosing to make your own toothpaste, or buy toothpaste with sustainable packaging you can reduce waste going to landfill and save both the water and energy involved in the production and disposal of these products.

About 1 billion toothpaste tubes are sent to landfills every year. [1]Toothpaste tubes are generally made of with aluminum or plastic. The process of converting raw bauxite (the source of aluminum that makes up 8 percent of the earth’s crust) into aluminum is an energy-consuming one, requiring roughly 7.5 kilowatt hours for each pound of virgin aluminum. Plastic is not biodegradable, taking up to 700 years before beginning to decompose. [2]|| 》http://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/why-i-quit-toothpaste/《

So: While zero wasting our lifestyle we decided to switch to zero waste toiletry/hygiene alternatives when what we were using runs out. So when we ran out of toothpaste we were forced to find an alternative that would still keep our teeth clean and healthy. 

So we are now brushing with tooth powder. This may sound crazy and ancient, but wow, who would’ve thought we’d prefer it to conventional toothpaste.

There are so many recipes on the internet. Our main aim is to eliminate the non-recyclable packaging, so we use a combination of baking soda and xylitol (this came in a plastic container, but it was gifted to us by a dentist before we switched to being plastic free, so we’ll use it until it’s finished, recycle the container and find another alternative). 

Here is another recipe which uses bicarb and coconut oil:

http://www.healthextremist.com/make-your-own-baking-soda-and-coconut-oil-toothpaste/

We also use compostable wooden toothbrushes. Whe compost them when we are done (not the bristles). Visit faithful to nature to get your own. Also available at various health shops all over the country. 

We visited the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town yesterday, and I feel stronger than ever that waste reduction is the only way forward. It’s worth a try…

Organic Container Gardening: First season Failure and Success

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So I have been gardening for about a year and a half.  It all started in 2016: We were still living in Rietondale, Pretoria, in a lovely old house with parquet floors and enormous rooms with high ceilings, and… a non-existent garden. We were renting the house, and when one rents, one does not want to spend too much money on the garden.

We did try a small vegetable patch when we just moved in, but the ground was so poor and the tomatoes that grew were awful and couldn’t be eaten. I didn’t have any knowledge of anything ‘garden’ at all then. My husband is a keen gardener and has green fingers, but he was really busy at the time, so he wasn’t really able to spend much time in the garden either.

Then, one hot summer day, I was looking at the small ‘courtyard’ garden through the burglar barred window of our room, and thought, no more. I shall plant, and  I shall plant now.  The only thing growing in the garden at the time was lavender. We decided to plant lavender everywhere as it was the only thing loving the sandy soil (that was not retaining any moisture whatsoever), that didn’t need a lot of watering.

So, on this specific day, I was looking at one of the lavender bushes in one of the beds that had died. I grabbed a spade and fork and dug it out. Lots of sweat and blistered hands followed but I was determined. One does not simply dig out a lavender bush that has been established for some years.

The following day I took photos of my garden beds (which were now empty) and drove to a nearby nursery, which specialises in exotic plants. The lady was eager to help me plan my garden, but the moment she saw what my ground looked like, she sent me away with four bags of chicken manure. She refused to sell me any plants, as she said they would only die due to my poor ground condition. And so started my relationship with ground. I followed her instructions and had to wait three weeks for the manure to do it’s job. But it was so worth it. I planted clivias, yesterday-today-and-tomorrow, a geranium and a hydrangea. I then pulled out Jane’s Delicious Garden, which I had received as a gift but up until then it had only served as a pretty coffee table book. From the the first chapter, I was hooked. I started reading the book from beginning to end, underlining and researching.

I started a compost heap in the corner of the garden and attempted growing my first vegetables. Well, you can’t really call them vegetables. They were leafy things, like herbs, spinach, kale and lettuce. But they grew beautifully.

And then, I found the first one: AN EARTHWORM.  Now, before, I thought earthworms were mainly used for fishing purposes. But the moment I found the first earthworm in my garden bed, I knew I was doing something right. Because I had learned that: Earthworms = beautiful nutritious soil = healthy delicious leaves.

I planted 2l bottles in the ground as a DIY irrigation system. We are away a lot and it didn’t rain often. I mulched and weeded and loved the feeling of my hands in the soil.

And then we decided to move. Three months after I started my garden. It felt like I was giving up a pet I had come to love so much. But we are not city people and we couldn’t stand the city any longer. So we moved and I had I had to leave it as it was. Without ever seeing my clivias bloom, hoping that the people to follow would love gardening even more than I did. They didn’t… but no matter.

As we are also renting on the farm, we are not really able (or allowed) to create a vegetable garden in the actual ground. So I went to the Silverton Farmer’s Market and bought five wooden crates. We moved during the winter so they stood empty until August. I couldn’t wait to fill them with earth and seed. So when the months became warmer, I lined them, got lovely ground and compost from my mother in law, and planted. We also covered the containers with a mini DIY tunnel. It looks so rad!

I had never planted actual vegetable vegetables, and I wanted to start from scratch so I bought easy growing veggie seed, like beetroot, carrot, tomatoes, kale en aubergines. At first I struggled to get the seeds to germinate, and the one’s that became seedlings wouldn’t grow taller. So I decided to stick them in the ground as small as they were, even though they were too small. And now they are tall and strong are bearing fruit.

We had a lot of  rain, and I mean a lot. So with all the nitrogen the plants shot up. My black heirloom tomato plant is taller than I am. This is not helpful. The tomatoes became too heavy, even though I supported the plant, and the plant bent over. I did stalk it up again and I am hoping for the best.

My yellow pepper flowers keep falling off. I have had no success with that one. So I’ve replanted it elsewhere but still no success.

My chilli is booming! Really!? How many chillies can one use!? I have used some to make an organic insecticide, which was helpful (onion, garlic, chilli and sunlight liquid = stinky).

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My beetroot has been in the ground for almost 5 months now. The leaves are beautiful. I was convinced they had to be enormous by now. So I pulled one out, only to find, well, nothing. I thin little root. It didn’t even look like beetroot. So I stuck it back. And I’ll continue waiting. Although I have no idea why this is happening.

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The kale is high, but not very leafy. It’s healthy though.

Half of my carrot crop was eaten by some little monster in the middle of the night. And the carrots that are left are growing sideways not down. It’s probably the ground.

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My Aubergine has lots of flowers, it has thrown one off. But I’ve started hand pollinating. So I’m really hoping for fruit! I love Aubergine!!

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The herbs are lovely and I can’t live without them. I have thyme, mint, rosemary, basil, italian parsley and oregano. My coriander, which is my absolute favourite, is struggling. But I am determined. I have had one successful coriander bush and it was fantastic.

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My cocktail tomato plant is bearing fruit.

I also have two self sown tomato plants, probably from seed in the compost. They are also flowering and bearing fruit. Little rascals. But I’m glad. The more tomato’s the pastier.

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I have two hanging baskets with strawberries which are finally delivering strawberries, and the birds aren’t eating them!

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And I have lovely nasturtiums and marigolds that are flowering! I would plant nasturtiums just to look at their leaves though.

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So all in all. Gardening is a mixture of ecstasy and devastation. I’m devastated when I lose another carrot, or when my Aubergine flower falls off (see how I write Aubergine in capital letters). But I’m over the moon when I can pick a ripe strawberry or when I can pick fresh organic herbs from my garden and cook with them moments after picking them.

One of the things I love doing most, is opening my backdoor first thing in the morning, making myself a cup of coffee and sitting on the backdoor steps, simply staring at my garden.

I think I must have green fingers (and a green heart) after all, but I’ll tell you secret, I think most people do…

 

Zero Waste Baby Shower

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So I was asked to help organise a baby shower for a really good friend. The problem was, that I had just gone Zero Waste. Which isn’t a problem, at all, but it does leave one with a few logistical considerations when organising a party.

I would like to mention that I was not solely responsible for the organisation, therefore complete Zero Waste was not possible. But I think we did quite  well…

We decided on a picnic in the Pretoria Botanical Gardens. The gardens are beautiful, with lovely big trees. It is so green at the moment after all the rain we’ve been having!

BUT when organising a picnic for so many people, it usually goes with a lot of waste… We decided to do it in the following way.

  1. Finger foods (no cutlery or plates needed): Fruit kebabs, savoury cheesecakes, mini ‘vetkoekies’, and mini pastries with a lovely Nutella Blondie by Popalai and a koeksister.
  2. Picnic Bags with tupperware we already had. 5 People shared a picnic bag. 5 of each finger food was placed in a tupperware bowl and sealed.
  3. Cloth Serviettes.
  4. Buckets to serve as dustbins: I kept it simple. I have a mesh recycling bag which I use to drop off my recycling at pikitup, which I labeled recycling and hung it on a tree. Next to the bags I placed two buckets and marked them: Food and Other (Dry Waste Only).  When we were done, the ‘other’ bucket was almost empty (unfortunately not completely empty). I took the recycling bag and Food bin home. The recycling bag was filled with wrapping paper etc. The food bin contained the compostable kebabs sticks and other cooked food. I will reuse the kebab sticks in my container garden and I placed the rest of the Food in my Bokashi to become plant food later.
  5. We had a glass decanter with water and lemon and small glasses instead of disposable cups. There were also juice decanters (cardboard and foil/plastic). Like I said, not solely responsible… one must not force these things on others?20170212_115231
  6. Flowers from the local farmer’s market (plastic wrapper free).20170212_073441
  7. Decor from my wedding and home: Ceramic rabbits, bunting and glass canned fruit bottles.20170212_115207
  8. I borrowed the table cloths, tupperware, glasses and decanter from my mother in law. Money saving, no need to buy or hire.

Apart from ending up with very little waste, it all looked very pretty and authentic!! I loved it!

Zero Waste Shopping Success

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I have had the best Zero Waste Shopping day ever.  Okay. It’s like my third Zero Shopping day. But this has been a really successful shopping day in terms of packaging.

My husband is busy working on a friends album in Pretoria, so my daughter and I went to Pretoria, and stayed over at the studio. On our way back home I bought the most beautiful second hand glass jars from Bellbottoms, an awesome antique store in Pierneef Street. I then passed by Carl’s Coffee, in 18th street, to fill up on some coffee beans. They were willing to put the beans directly into my glass jars.

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I dropped some things I was not using (plastic mixing bowls, measuring cups etc) off at the The Baby Therapy Centre where they have a monthly Jumble Sale.  (Some of my items of clothing in my closet are from that Jumble sale.)

I then stopped at the Soap Barn, which I heard about from Colleen Black (A life lived Simply), a fellow zero waster. They sell all natural soaps and sodas in bulk. To my disappointment everything was packaged in plastic, non-recyclable plastic. I asked the manager whether they would be willing to fill my own personal glass jars. She was do friendly, and more than willing. I bought 1kg each of citric acid, washing soda and baking soda, as well as 5l of liquid castille soap (this I bought in plastic but I will reuse the same bottle every time I refill). I was over the moon.

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I stopped at New Market Mall, in Alberton, where I bought a cappuccino in my own ecosoullife traveller cup, after which I went to Food Lover’s Market,  where they had helped me so nicely before. I didn’t have any small cloth bags with me so I loaded all my produce into my basket, they weighed everything loose and I then placed everything in my reusable shopping bags.

My last stop was Nature’s Heritage, an organic vegetable farm, where I buy organic vegetables, free range meat and raw dairy products (grass fed). They have been so helpful and willing to provide all my vegetables, milk, yoghurt and cream cheese in my own packaging (glass and cloth bags, and one reused brown paper bag for my mushrooms).

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The best thing about this day was not only the fact they I had nothing to throw away. I had connected with so many people on a personal level. It felt like going to a market in Europe, where you know Lucille, who fills your jars with nuts and grain every week, or Ben who is so friendly while making you a delicious cappuccino. No one complains. Every person is interested and eager to help. And you know what, I hate shopping, but today didn’t feel like shopping at all.

 

Danél – 1. Waste – 0. Frustration – 10.

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It was all going really well.  In fact I was on top of the world.  No waste for one day. Oh yes. Golden star. 100%. Noddy badge. Difference maker etc etc. I had bought two take away cappuccino in my own EcoSoulife Cafe Traveler, refused my cash slips and placed my take away in my own cotton serviette. Day 1 was a breeze. What could possibly go wrong.

On day 2 we were on our way to Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, to spend some time with my family for the week. I packed my zero waste basket with all my bags, cups, straws, serviettes, containers etc. I usually put a disposable diaper on my daughter when traveling, for my own comfort, but not this time. She had cloth on her bum, and in her bag. I admit I did have wet wipes which I had bought a while ago.

I was ready for ‘Traveling Zero Waste style’. Now this might be a little personal, but hell, who cares. I had bought a menstrual cup the day before to use instead of disposable pads and tampons as I had started my period and didn’t want to buy any of those toxic disposables again. I had read all the reviews on how successfully people were using these, watched many tutorials and so the cup went along too.

(I should probably add that my husband had had a sinus operation the day before, so he wasn’t  able to help me at all on our trip, as he usually does.)

During our first stop, 200km from our destination, I realised that this day might be a little more frustrating than I thought: I tried to find something healthy, vegetarian and easy to eat, that wasn’t too messy and that could easily go into my own containers. I ordered a sandwich and fries (not so healthy at all) and thankfully the restaurant was happy to use my containers. I also needed to use the bathroom but I refused the slip and was scared I would need it to collect my order, so I stayed. In the mean time my family was waiting for me in the car. I collected the food and decided to skip the bathroom.

Our stops while traveling are usually really quick: I take my daughter to the bathroom with me, use the bathroom myself and then change her nappy, while my husband grabs us some coffee in disposable take away cups and then quickly pops into the bathroom himself before continuing on our journey.

But, our next stop, 100km from our destination, went something like this: I went to the bathroom without my daughter due to my sanitary obligations, only to find that my trusty menstrual cup had not been so trusty.  I then had to sort that out, go back to the car, change my daughter’s diaper and then grab our reusable take away cups to get some coffee. The coffee shop was too busy so I decided against the coffee and went back to the car, but I had promised my daughter that I would get her a milkshake (Friday is Cheat day) and had to go to another shop to get her a milkshake in her take away cup. She wasn’t able to sip the thick milkshake through her cup so I poured it into my cup. Have I mentioned that she is a 2 year old, so she was more interested in removing the lid, than drinking the milkshake. She then poured the milkshake all over her, and cried for the next 50 km not only because her milkshake was finished, but also because she was now dirty, and she doesn’t like being dirty.

All of the above + my auditory sensitivity = me wanting to scream,  and a hell of a lot of frustration.  But I had won. I had Zero Wasted this day (if you ignore our petrol gas emissions), and that made all difference.