Today is Madiba Day in South Africa, a day that we celebrate with 67 minutes of service for our local communities. It is also Plastic Free July… So I thought I would brainstorm sixty-se7en ways to live a little greener.
Over the past couple of months I have been creating a podcast series on habits, so I will pop this post into a podcast for you… the Habit of Living More Sustainably.
Season 2 on the Podcast and Healthy Habits
- Habit 1: Sustainable Sleep
- Habit 2: Relaxing Reading
- Habit 3: Healthy Eating
- Habit 4: Fabulous Fun
- Habit 5: Mindful Mornings
- Habit 6: The Habit of Moving More
Refuse, Re-Use and Recycle.
Let’s begin with our garbage… convenience might be saving the day, but it isn’t saving the planet, and it is no longer future generations that are going to suffer… but it’s now, in our own time. We are all consuming plastics, we are all drowning in trash, if you know it or not… we are in the midst of a garbage crisis and when we throw our trash AWAY it is not really going anywhere. Find out where your garbage goes, because it is time to become much more conscious consumers.
- Create Less Waste: Refuse single-use items and use reusables where ever you can. Get yourself a stunning re-usable water bottle for outings, you won’t forget at home if it is a lovely one.
- Recycle Your Packaging: Make sure that the packaging that comes into your home is recyclable, squash it as flat as you can and store it for recycling day.
- Save your Organic Scraps for a Compost Heap: Coffee grinds, tea leaves, vegi-peels, apple cores, fruit pips… and create a compost heap. If you don’t have space for a compost heap in your garden find a friend who does and add to their compost heap.
- Create Eco-Bricks: There is some garbage that just can’t be recycled or re-used… and that is where eco-bricks become your friend. Eco-Bricks are two litre soda bottles that you pack solid with non-rycleables, they are used as bricks in so many building sites. We have blogged how to make eco-bricks before, and if you aren’t going to use them for your own building project then hunt around for a drop off site. You can learn much more about Eco-bricks at Waste-Ed.
- Let Your Voice Be Heard: Sign up for the Zero-Waste-Run with Mina Guli, from the 3-7 August and make a statement for the earth. You can run/walk/hike or swim and every mile counts.
- Join the Plastic Free July Challenge: Plastic Free July is an on going challenge, not just July, the more we join in the more we are raising awareness.
- Sponsor a Turtle at the Two Oceans Aquarium: These little ocean adventurers represent all the ocean animals that are being threatened by our continuous plastic consumption… they need all all the help them recover and be rehabilitated back into the wild.
- Watch Your Water Consumption: Seeing water as a valuable resource, it is not a luxury, but a valuable resource… think of ways to re-use the water you use. Cooking water can be used to water the garden. A bucket in the shower and we have saved a little bit more water… it all counts.
- Think of Ways to Save Energy: Obviously turning off lights when you don’t need them, even turning your geyser down a few degrees will save a lot of energy over time. Only put appliances on that you actually need. Just a review of whatever is on the kitchen counter and you will see there are one or two appliances that you are not actually using.
- Use Big Appliances When They Are Full: Only pop your washer, or your dishwasher on when they are full. It is extremely wasteful to pop a few dishes into the dishwasher, or a handful of clothes into the washer, and turn it on.
- Choose to Walk: Make use of your feet, your health will appreciate it and it is much better for the environment and your happiness to walk places. If a place is within walking distance then take the time to walk there, make it a rule that you won’t use your car for trips less than 5km… it will be amazing to you how much time you will save by not doing dozens of unnecessary trips, that is before you even consider the cost of fuel. I know when my kids were small it took longer to get everyone into their car seats than the short trip we were going on… it was just easier to walk to the library, the beach, or the store.
- Take your own Re-usable Mug with You: You know you are going to want that coffee.
- Make Your Lunch at Home: Just the economics of it will show you that buyong lunch out everyday is ridiculously pricey. Instead make double dinner the night before and take the extras to work for lunch the next day.
- Choose Your Snacks Wisely: If you choose a fruit like an orange or a banana it comes with a natural protection from the elements… these kind of snacks are perfect on hikes, around town… they don’t require extra packaging at all.
- Take Your Own Lunch Box: Even if you must a take-out for lunch, then take your own container… take-out meals are notoriously bad for non-green packaging, or saying that their container is biodegradable (over the next 1000 years). Take your own container, and you will feel so much better about your lunch.
- Pop a Cutlery Set and a BamBoo/Metal Straw into Your Bag: And you will never ever have to accept single use plastic utensils again. Job done!!!
- Batch Your Trips: If you do have to run errands then batch them together, those errands that are in the same area can all be done in one trip on the same day.
- Don’t buy Kitchen Paper/Roller Towel: While we would rather use paper than plastic, in the kitchen, in fact, all around the house, cloth rags can be used for cleaning over and over again.
- Stop Buying Cling-wrap: You can use cloth food covers, bees wax food covers, the opportunities are endless, glass containers.
- Use Reusable Containers: As your old plastic containers crumble, shatter, or reach their end of life. Replace them with glass jars, collect old tins for storing the basics.
- Make Meal Plans: The more carefully you plan, the fewer “extras” will land in your shopping cart and the less you will waste.
- Ditch the Pod: Unless your coffee pods are of the fancy refillable kind, they are all going to the landfill – they are simply a waste of space… grind your own coffee and your garden will thank you.
- Check Out a Zero Waste Cook Book: For example, Simplicious Flow by Sarah Wilson. I love and adore this cookbook, absolutely nothing goes to waste, her cook book is loaded with 350 recipes and thousands of tips on how to use scraps, how to store food, how to shop without wasting… it is an absolute gem.
- Think About the Domestic Cleaning Products That You Use: Kitchen cleaners that we wash down the drains and ultimately land up in the sea and they needn’t be harsh chemicals, switch to more natural cleaners – a mix of bicarb and vinegar works just as well as “strong bleach.”
- Change Your Laundry Detergent to an Eco-Egg: We changed our laundry detergent to an eco-egg, we have never ever had to put detergent into our washer and we use your laundry water our vegetable garden. We just pop the hose pipe out of the nearest window. Not to mention what seemed quite a pricey outlay has paid for itself thousands of times over – we literally haven’t bought laundry detergent in several years… and for a family of twelve sporty folk, that is a lot of washes we have saved from.
- How Do You Clean Your Car: With a bucket of water and rags, definitely not with a hose pipe. But what about the soap suds, how many folk have we passed by while we are walking our dogs, and they are washing their cars with soapy suds, and all that flows down the nearest drain… and straight onto the beach where we swim.
- Buy a Bamboo Toothbrush: It is an astonishing thought that every toothbrush you own is sitting in a garbage dump somewhere, not just yours, but your entire family’s and extended family. Next time you replace your toothbrush grab a bamboo one. And when you replace them – reuse the old ones. They are really great for reaching those hard to reach nooks and crannies. In fact next time you want to clean your white trainers and a little toothpaste and a scrubbing with an old toothbrush will do the trick.
- Buy Re-usable Bathroom Staples: Cotton wool, make up brushes and even razors all have greener options now. Do yourself a favour, visit a zero-waste store and gear up.
- Choose Greener Feminine Hygiene Products: There is so much available, do your research find products that are green and use them instead of the plastic laden products that line our supermarket shelves.
- Similarly for Diapers: It has become so easy to use cloth diapers that there is really no need to use disposable diapers at all.
- Loose the Packaging: There is no need to buy endless plastic packing for all our lotions and potions. Buy bulk and decant into smaller containers and when it comes to products like shampoo and conditioner… bars for the win, I love them!!!
- Choose Your Cosmetics Wisely: If a product doesn’t say that it is animal friendly, then it probably isn’t. In this day and age that is just unacceptable. And if you are an open water swimmer, then choose an environmentally friendly sunscreen, you would never squirt a bottle of sunscreen into the ocean, the fact that you smear it on and then swim… means that that is exactly what happens, unintentionally.
- Don’t Over-Shop: You don’t have to buy a new version of electronics every time there is an upgrade and if you do upgrade then pass your old version on.
- Dispose of Your Electronics Responsibly: You cannot just dispose of your electronics to the landfill, if you can’t donate old electronics then take them to an electronic store, they usually have a place for you to dispose of your waste.
- Use Rechargeable Batteries and Even Better Solar Batteries: I was able to get a solar powered battery charger for hiking the Fish River Canyon… life saver!!!
- Over Time Replace Outdoor Lights with Solar Lights: These lights are recharged on a daily basis and are not wasting any energy at all.
- By Locally Sourced Vegetables: Just knowing which vegetables are in season means that you will not buy Strawberries in the middle of winter, for example, on a whim. Those strawberries have flown further than you have in the last few years and they have a mighty large carbon footprint. Watch out for Green Washing: One of our major retailers that has photographs of muddy fields and gorgeous vegetable gardens, also promotes organic tomatoes flown in from Brazil and packages all their vegetables in non-recycleable plastic.
- Think Before You Buy: Do you have to buy the product new, would a second hand version or a trip to the library for example, or the audible/online version be absolutely perfect? How are you going to get rid of the product when you are done with it… can you gift it on, donate it… the question is: Do you want it forever?
- Shop for Products in Re-Usable Containers: Keep the jars that come into your home and you can re-use jars from your jar collection again and again and again.
- Use Re-usable Shopping Bags: If you keep forgetting them, just don’t allow yourself to buy the plastic ones… and when you have to carry all your groceries out of the store in your arms once or twice, you will find you will never forget them again.
- Choose the Product with the Least Packaging: I take re-usable produce bags for fresh fruit and veg, buying loose vegetables, without packaging is possible… choose where you shop, some stores insist on covering every single piece of fruit and veg in plastic, avoid them… the customer is king and if we all avoid plastic, then our voice will be heard.
- Shop at Packaging Free Stores or Buy Bulk: We don’t do all our shopping at packaging free stores, but we can do quite a bit… these choices are becoming more and more available to us, and the more we use them, the more those in retail will realise that there is a demand for that too.
- Shopping Online is Not Ever Actually the Greener Option: Shopping online means that you are trading green choices for convenience. Think about it, even if the store is a very Green Brand you are still paying for extra packaging, your products are being transported… even if the packaging is brown paper and not plastic, which is a slight win, the idea is to consume less and so still a fail.
- Challenge Yourself To Never Buy Gift Wrap Again: Re-use gift wrap, or packaging that comes into the house with deliveries.
- Re-Gifting is a Thing: It used to be so frowned upon, but if you have received a gift that doesn’t spark joy, pass it on to someone who will appreciate it.
- Invest in silicone Cup-Cake Wrappers: By the time you have bought plastic coated paper wrappers, that actually have a plastic layer attached to them, so they can’t be recycled, for several years’ worth of birthday parties… you could have saved yourself a fortune by buying washable/reusable ones.
- Lose the Balloons: Can we just lose all the balloons… FOREVER… fun as they are, the only place for them is on a virtual card or in a photograph filter. All balloons end up in the ocean someway or other, there is no good way to dispose of them. Lose the balloons, if you want to decorate a party then bunting is the way to go. You can use it again and again and the prettiness is real.
- As for Paper Plates, Napkins and Such Like: Choose finger foods, or go classic and use proper plates… and linen napkins.
- And Choose A Real Christmas Tree: Reduces alien vegetation in our part of the world, not to mention they smell better.
- When you Buy Toys as Gifts: Shop for eco-friendly toys, wooden toys from local businesses are timeless and classics, like Thornewood Treasures.
- Choose Eco-Conscious Holiday Spots: We have holidayed at The Veld and Sea Surf Shack… and it was fabulous. Green Living to the Max.
- Another Green Holiday Choice is the Underhill Eco-Farm: We won a weekend away at Underhill Eco-Farm last year and what a fabulous experience. Every choice they have made they have tried as hard as possible to make green choices. In fact, follow them on instagram during Plastic Free July, they are posting local green businesses and ideas every single day.
- Choose to Braai: With alien braai wood, you are helping clear aliens while having a fun feast.
- Choose Green Companies: Choose genuinely green companies, that really go the extra mile. Be aware of green washing companies, you have to read the fine print. On a recent hiking holiday I used Forever Fresh Foods, they are a freeze dries meals that are sold in ziplock packaging, and they have committed to creating eco-bricks with the packaging that their customers wash and return.
- Borrow Gear Whenever You Can: On the same hiking holiday, to the Fish River Canyon, I was able to borrow ALL the gear that I needed. I love hiking and I hike a lot, but I don’t go on several weeklong hikes a year… it just isn’t worth me investing in the gear.
- Carry A Bag to Collect Rubbish: I always have a rubbish bag when out hiking. On the trails you will find litter, wherever you go, even in the heart of the Fish River Canyon, if you see it pick it up and take it home in your bag. Litter on the mountains that will wash down the slopes into our drains and directly out onto our beaches and into the sea.
- Leave No Trace: Whatever you take into the wilds, make sure you take it out with you. Do not leave your litter behind, no matter how innocent it looks. Including your organic rubbish… take that home for your own compost heap… there is nothing worse than getting to a beautiful spot and sitting down next to someone else’s fruit peels or a pile of hard-boiled-egg-shells.
- Invest in Eco-Friendly Outdoor Gear: If there is a choice between single use plastic or re-usables… always always choose the reusable. The convenience of an instant meal and once of utensils is just not worth it.
- Commit to Taking Three for the Sea: Every Time you go to the beach, pick up… not just on the beach, the surrounding dunes and the parking lot. Have a look at Take Three for the Sea.
- Scoop the Poop: Talking about dogs… clean up your dogs’ poop, wherever you are… if you think no-one is watching, you still can’t leave it there… your dog and your responsibility. Think about it… you take your pups for a run on the mountain, then it rains and anything on the surface runs down the slopes to the road below, from the road to the drains and then straight onto our beaches… where you are taking your kids for supper on the beach. Any kind of rubbish that is out of sight, isn’t necessarily out of mind.
- Commit to a Monthly Cleanup: We join the Beach Co-op for a Beach Cleanup every month, and spend a morning collecting up garbage on the beach, it is the least we can do for all the time we spend enjoying the ocean.
- Start a Vegetable Garden: If you don’t have space for a garden pop a tomato plant in a pot on the windowsill. You don’t have to grow everything, but the more you grow the less chance of bringing unnecessary packaging into your home. Follow the _Spicymoustache_ on Instagram for Zero Waste Gardening Inspiration. Support our local Seed Growing Community and buy their seedlings.
- Start a Windowsill Garden: mine sparks joy every single day… Or pop some herbs into glass jars on the window sill and if you don’t use them up fast enough they will grow into their own micro-garden. Once they are growing happily pop them into a space in your garden and start again.
- Set Up Wildlife Islands: The more urban our living spaces become, the less space there is available for wildlife. Leave out bowls of water in corners of the garden, let plants grow wild in certain patches. Make bird feeding stations around the garden… some fruit slices and a bowl of bird seed. You will be surprised at the number of little visitors that you get.
- Plant a Tree or Indigenous Plants: Plant five trees… we have a tiny garden, but I try and plant a tree from time to time. Local trees, shady trees, fruit trees. Otherwise, local plants are water saving and are brilliant for attracting local insects, bugs and beetles into your garden. If you don’t have a big enough garden… join a planting day with Greenpop.
- Use Hand Tools Whenever You Can: Power hosing your driveway clean is a waste of water and a broom will be just as effective, just as leaf blowers are the most ridiculous energy consumers, where a rake will do. Often those tasks that we try and rush through actually defeats the point of spending purposeful time outdoors and just enjoying the space you have.
- Create a Compost Corner: A layer of kitchen scraps, followed by a layer of green garden cuttings, and repeat. Every couple of weeks turn the whole heap and before you know it you will have some lovely compost to add to your garden.
In the Virtual World
Less is More: Water and Electricity
Out and About
In the Kitchen
In the Bathroom
What About Electronics?
When Out Grocery Shopping:
At this stage in my life I really don’t want to holiday in a place where everything comes in plastic packaging… I want to dispose of any garbage thoughtfully: recycling in the recycling, compost in the compost.