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…

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.

Zero Waste: ready, steady, throw

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The less you have, the less you have to worry about ||Gautama Buddha||

So it has now been about 10 days since starting this new Zero Waste Home lifestyle.

Step 1: Decluttering our home.

We live in a  very small house on a beautiful farm near Walkerville, Gauteng. Our house does not have any built in closets. Actually, it doesn’t really have any cupboards. So when  we moved there from a rather large home (5 bedrooms) in Pretoria, in June 2016,  all our ‘stuff’ had to fit into our new home. Needless to stay, it didn’t. Not even half. So we went European and made everything we thought we needed (thought) fit. We put things under, on top, behind, and everywhere we could find an open space.  My clothes couldn’t fit in my loose standing closet, so there were things stacked on top.  The closet didn’t really fit into the room either.  We placed the rest in storage.

Now, the problem with this clever Europeanization of our home is that it became extremely cluttered. Constantly having to bend down and reach under the bed for something became really frustating. The house became untidy because it was too much trouble to place things back where they belonged.  A little cockroach family moved in, along with a lot of dust. We found a Rinkhals (very poisonous snake) right outside our house. A rat in our daughter’s room. A blind snake under my sink (not dangerous, but hey) and many frogs. Clutter + animals = Great hiding and breeding spots.

WE HAD TO DECLUTTER.

And so we did: We went through every cupboard, every chest, every box and drawer, the food, the toys, everything.  We had a lot of S-H-I-T. We placed everything we didn’t want, need, or use in our car and took it to a Non-Profit Organization (they sell things at a Jumble Sale for next to nothing). We sent clothes, toiletries, toys, even an old laptop. We removed expired food. Recycled what could be recycled, composted what could be composted and unfortunately had to send some things to the the landfill (which will hopefully not happen so often anymore).

Everyone’s definition of ‘need’ is different and very personal. Mine is quite simple because I am black and white in my greyness. If I don’t use it, or if I can use something else, I don’t need it. I really tried not to ‘what if’ while choosing what to keep: Two spatulas, 1 pair of scissors, 1 pencil, 1 pen, clothes I actually wear. I had nearly 30 pantis (why!?), I had an onion slicer, a broken blender, and the list goes on. I gave it all away. I’m sure I’ll continue to do so in the weeks to come.

Now all those spaces are clear again. I don’t worry about a snake living under our bed, or a rat making it’s nest between my daughter’s shoes. My clothes fit in my cupboard. I have space, and the house can breathe.

We have less, but we have less to worry about.

Zero Waste. Zero Waste. Zero Waste.

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A few months ago, as I was throwing another non-recyclable object into our small general waste bin I suddenly became very frustrated and discouraged.

At that point I was recycling and using cloth diapers (mostly), but it all suddenly felt like I was not really making such a big difference after all.  I always felt so good about myself when dropping my recyling off at Pikitup, or when paying Open Sky Recyling to pick my recycling up from our curb when we were still living in Rietondale, Pretoria. But I was still sending bin after bin to the landfill, week after week, in a plastic bag, filled with plastic bags.

“I guess you can’t win” I said to my husband.

Then about a month later I was discussing my interest in having a capsule closet with my sister in law, she shared a Tedtalk by Bea Johnson about her Zero Waste Home with me. In the video Bea mentions her capsule closet of 15 items, BUT, she mainly discusses ZERO WASTE. Here I would like to shout and if I could add a sound clip I would.

ZERO WASTE. ZERO WASTE. ZERO WASTE.

I immediately bought her e-book: Zero Waste Home, and read it cover to cover. I hadn’t felt so inspired in years. I now had answers to all these questions that had been plagueing me: Is it actually possible to not have a bin? To not send anything to the landfill? To recycle less instead of more? Is it actually possible to make a real difference, easily? The answer to all these questions: YES! The answer is ZERO WASTE.

I then discoverd that people all over the world are already doing it. “They must be bored housewives” you are thinking. Actually, no. Most of them are professional people with real jobs. They are not hippies, or gypsies with dirty cluttered homes. (No offence Hippies and Gypsies). Their homes are clutter free, easy to clean homes. They only have what they need, not what they want. They buy experiences instead of things. Their lives are simple, instead of complicated. And they don’t send trash to landfills.

I am lucky to have a husband who is as passionate about the earth as I am. So it didn’t take much convincing to get him onto the band wagon. Our 2 year old doesn’t have a choice.

We have now litteraly plunged into ZERO WASTE. We are simplifying our life, and living with what we need, not what we want. Or at least we are trying to.

How very liberating.

Now all that remains is to start changing all those nasty little waste habits… BRING IT ON!