Zero Waste Shopping Success


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.