The Best Way to Start Greening Your Life



Recycling (shutterstock image)

Recycling your waste is one of the absolute best ways to start greening your life, if you have been putting off doing so.

It saves the earth’s resources by reusing materials.  It prevents dangerous chemicals from polluting rivers, soil and the air. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

But there is something far more valuable and long lasting you will gain from recycling.

Recycling will change the way you think.  Recycling will change how you choose.  Recycling will change how you buy;  it will change what you buy.

In the end, recycling will save you money.

Ready to give it a try? Here are some tips to get you started.

Find a Space

It might sound silly or obvious, but identify a space where all recycling has to go.  Having a set space to take recycling to will immediately increase your chances at success.

Also remember: recycling is not just about sorting your waste.  It is also about getting recycled waste to a depot from where it can be processed. So ensure your space is somewhere you will remember to pick it up on your way out.

Contain It

Get dedicated containers to store your recycling in.  It can be anything from dedicated dustbins, to crates or used plastic shopping bags.

Try to set up containers in such a way that recycling gets deposited directly into the container that it is going to get disposed off in.  So if you use a crate, line it with a plastic bag for easy pick up and go.

Word of advice: start with containers you already have in the house.  Next, figure out how much recycling your household generates and how often you dispose of recycled items. Once you have established quantities and schedule, you can invest in the right size and type of containers, if you need to.

Cultivate New Habits

Most things are easy to do … once.  Doing it over and over again until it becomes a habit takes a little bit more effort.

So don’t rush into it. Start with one (maximum two) items to recycle, for instance glass or paper. Only add more items once you have the habit properly formed and the details sorted.

Rome wasn’t built in one day.  Neither does your recycling effort have to be.

Begin with the End in Mind

How do you decide which item to start recycling? Easy peasy.

Find the nearest, easiest recycling depot to your house, and whatever is recycled there, that’s the product you start with.

Easy drop-off is half the battle won.

Get Everyone on Board the Recycling Train

This can be a tricky one, depending on who you share your dwelling with.  Recycling isn’t difficult, but it requires commitment, and commitment, and more commitment.

Don’t war. Don’t blame. Don’t shame.

Focus on the positives. Encourage. Celebrate small victories.

South Africans do not yet have a recycling culture or  -laws, as some European and other countries, so it remains a largely voluntary act to recycle.  And for voluntary acts you need volunteers.

Get it? Now get going.  And if you mess up, don’t fret. Reboot, simplify even more, and start again.


Sharing is Caring, or is it?

Reduce by Sharing what you own

While researching even more ways to go green, I recently came across UK-based website Streetbank. Streetbank adresses the issue of reducing what we buy/own by introducing the (age old) concept of sharing stuff that we own or skills that we posses with people who live in our communities. More than just reducing what we consume, it strives to re-create communities that care for and help out one another for free.

Participants share anything from garden tools, french lessons, child care and even vacant land for a gardener without land. Communities are considered as people living in a radius of a mile (approx 1.6km) from you.

A novel idea and one that initially filled me with excitement, untill I got to registering. Because you see, on registering, I had to specify at least one item that I would like to share with my community. That got me thinking and to my surprise, I could not initially come up with any one item that I was prepared to share with just any stranger that popped up on my front door.

I have to admit that I was a little shocked at my own reaction, especially as I am generally regarded as ‘nice’ and even ‘caring’ by most of my friends. After some soul-searching I decided to bounce the idea off some of the other ‘nice’ people I know and found that the non-sharing attitude was mutual. Is it a South African thing? Do you trust people in your community enough to share your lawnmower with them or invite them over for free assistance with their tax returns?

Why not take 30 seconds and tell me if you are prepared to share some of the stuff that you own with people in your community, and if yes, what are you prepared to share? Also, did you actually go and register at Streetbank? I did! Leave a comment and I will let you know what I’m sharing. See you soon.

Reuse, reuse, reuse


An excellent way to reuse beautiful old or new porcelaine and cutlery. I found this decorative bird cage at one of our local craft markets, the Klip Klap Market, in Olympus, Pretoria East.
The Klip-Klap market is a monthly, eclectic market hosting antiques, quality hand-made crafts (many of which uses local craftsmen and recycled or reused material), food and wine. Go to their website for their exhibition dates.