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.


Zero Waste: ready, steady, throw


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.


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.