2019 is around the corner! And you may be starting to think of some lifestyle changes or some goals you’d like to achieve in the new year. We LOVE this time of the year, because everyone is excited to start new things, and there’s a sort of camaraderie happening all over the world.
We know that Waste Free living is not an easy task, but if you’ve decided you’d like to be more eco friendly in 2019, or that you’d like to be more mindful of your waste, then this is the read for you!
We have compiled a list of 19 things that you can implement in 2019 to help you on your Waste Free journey.
P.s. Ironically, waste free and money saving are totally interchangeable throughout this blogpost. Many people think living differently is more expensive, but it’s actually so much cheaper!
1. Share More
Not to brag, but I think my bestie and I have this down. We literally share everything. I shaved my hair two years back and since it’s grown back, I’ve needed a hair straightener. I don’t do my hair fancy every day so no need to buy a whole appliance for myself, I just borrow her’s. Going to a fancy party? No need to buy a new dress every time, I just borrow one. If I have a pair of boots or jeans that will match her outfit, she borrows them from me. Point is, when we become a community that can share things easier than buy new ones every time, we’re saving the planet a little bit, but also growing in community with each other.
Honestly, share everything! Clothes, appliances, cheese graters, cutlery, food, furniture, whatever it is. If you don’t use it every day, there’s no need to buy it new. Just borrow for that once in a while when you will need it.
2. Find a Butcher
This is my personal goal for 2019. I don’t eat meat (which saves us a ton of money and plastic waste), but my hubby enjoys a good piece of meat here and there. My goal this year is to find a butcher that will accept me bringing my own container and asking them to put the cut meat into my own tupperware/ bowl/ glass dish. The plastic that meat is wrapped in is not just not recyclable, but it’s disgusting to try clean and put in an eco brick and mostly ends up being thrown away.
Let’s just avoid it?
3. Compost your Food Waste
Food waste makes up a HUGE portion of our landfills and it’s so unnecessary when our food waste can easily be turned into great compost for our plants. This was one of the first things that helped us reduce our waste, and there are so many great options out there to help you do this. Layered Worm Farms, Vertical Worm Farms, Bokashi drums, Compost heaps, and Drop off points around Cape Town. We started, and have stuck with the Bokashi system. Simply get yourself a bokashi bin (Harry Goemans, or OZCF are our top picks), then follow the steps you’re given when you purchase the bin (or google) to turn your food waste into compost for your garden. It’s such an efficient system and you’re plants will LOVE you for it!
4. Buy Quality
Buying something that will last a lifetime. Think about it, if you buy a cheap pair of shoes every 6 months because they keep breaking, verses buying one expensive pair that will last you 20 years. Yes, it costs way more upfront, but long term you’ll save on the cash and on the environment. Also think about disposing of 100 pairs of shoes in a lifetime as opposed to 3. Even if they’re plastic, or not biodegradable, it will still be better for the earth.
5. Carry your own with you
Here’s a super easy way to use less waste. Pack a little baggie that you can keep in your bag or your car, and bring out whenever you’re grabbing a quick bite to eat/ drink on the road. I always carry my travel mug, reusable straw, and a glass Tupperware container with a lid with me. When you’re out and about, it’s so easy to consume oodles of plastic and napkins and straws and paper cups…. Using your own costs you nothing extra, and saves so much waste!
6. Recycle Properly
Recycling is a great place to start, but a bad place to stop. None the less, if you start recycling this year, please make sure you do it right. Recycling the wrong way, is worse than just throwing your rubbish in the bin. It ends up in landfills, it’s an effort to sort through, and it’s quite honestly showing a disregard for the people who deal with the recycling. Read this post on how to recycle properly, or look up what your country’s current recycling practices are.
7. Buy 100% Cotton/ Hemp Cotton clothing
MOST clothing is made from plastic. It’s crazy to think that every piece of underwear, Tshirt, jeans, headband, hair tie, sock, shoe, bathing suit is ALL non recyclable, and will end up in a landfill NOT degrading, but sitting there for decades to come- literally. It’s quite scary. Recently I started purchasing 100% cotton clothing, and also making my own items from 100% cotton material. It’s surprisingly not the most expensive material out there, and many conventional shops have 100% cotton clothing options. These items can be put in a composting system and will decompose in about 3months- 1 year. (See this article on how long materials take to break down).
8. Make your own
One thing that will save you money like anything else is making your own. My friend hosts a website where she shares recipes for all sorts of home and beauty products, and then also shares a comparison of the prices of the homemade items verses the store bought items. It’s really helpful- check it out here. Making your own items not only ensures you’re FULLY aware of the ingredients and materials used, but it also means you get to make things exactly how you like them. Things that I often make myself: facial scrub, toothpowder, jewellery, hair ties, pot plants, candles, soap, make up remover…
9. Buy reusables only
Buying items that can be used over and over again, even if made from plastic, is still WAY better than single use items. Straws, chip packets, sandwich bags, water bottles…. All of these are single use items and should be replaced by reusable items. Head over to our store to see the options we have to help you here.
10. Grow Veggies
This is possibly ones of the most rewarding ways to reduce your waste in 2019. We plant herbs and veggies that are in season, and when they grow and produce a harvest, it’s the most rewarding and delightful thing. Not only do we save TONS of money and waste from all the herbs we would otherwise be buying, but we also get all natural and good for you edibles. Companies like Reel Gardening make it SO easy to grow your own garden, but really, this is something you can even do in a pot plant, it’s so easy.
11. Purchase multipurpose items
I have a scarf that I recently received from Cinnamon and Sage as a gift from my office team, and it’s literally the BEST thing I’ve received in such a long time. I use it as a head scarf, a beach throw, a sarong, a little summer top, and, of course, a scarf (in the winter months). Instead of buying 5 different accessories, I have 1 that suits 5 purposes. If you can find items like this it will be such a score for your waste free endeavors.
12. Fix it
I have a pair of jeans that I’ve had for the past 5 years, and I still wear them almost everyday. They have ripped in a few spots but I’ve just fixed them up and you can hardly notice the difference. Fixing items instead of throwing them away is so beneficial in so many ways. It saves money having to buy that item again, it means you get to keep your favourite item of clothing/ accessory for longer, and it means you buy less and so produce less waste. It may take some effort, but it’s well worth it.
13. Buy second hand
Buying second hand is an important part of the circular economy. It keeps things flowing through hands instead of dustbins, and also, it’s way cheaper! The only thing you miss when buying second hand is the sparkly packaging…and guess what? That’s the worst part about new items. The plastic bag, the slips, and all the packaging that it comes in. Some things we have recently bought second hand: our laptop, our camera and tripod, some Christmas gifts, and clothes.
14. Use what you have
We can save a lot of money and waste by just being creative and using what you have. For example, whenever we get invited to a BBQ (Braai) and need to bring something, we won’t go and buy something, we’ll use items we already have and whip up a super creative dish to take with and share. Sometimes I even have to be creative and play around with outfits to make sure I don’t buy a new one for an event. You do have to get crafty, but using what you have makes the earth a happier place.
15. Buy fresh produce without packaging
I’ve already mentioned in an earlier blog post here about how many grocery stores sell their fresh produce without packaging. If you can avoid purchasing things like bananas and oranges and potatoes in plastic bag, you’ll be saving a TON on the environment. And we’ve done a price check ourselves. It’s maybe a tiny bit more expensive on some items, but often it’s the same price with or without the plastic. If you do buy things in punnets or bags, ask the store if you can bring it back for them to reuse. We do this at Food Lovers Market with the grapes and blueberry punnets.
16. Create an Eco Brick
The biggest waste free sensation in Cape Town at the moment is the Eco Brick. They are being used for EVERYTHING from town halls, to outside showers, to school benches. But, as with recycling, it must be done properly, otherwise they can’t be used. If you’re not sure what an Eco Brick is, it’s basically a 2 litre bottle stuffed with plastic that cannot be recycled, and then once it’s at 96% capacity, is used as a brick in building some structures. Read more about it here.
17. Sit Down rather than Take Away
I realised that most of my waste was consumed via take outs. There is a way you can take your own tupperware/ containers to the restaurant and reduce the amount of packaging they give you (we’ve tried this many times), but an easier and more efficient solution is just to sit down and eat there rather than take out. Less waste, more enjoyment, same price (minus the tip- but it’s also nice to be generous).
*Just a note on this, many of the take out containers we use can’t be recycled due to the oil and grease on them, which is quite sad if you like pizza in pizza boxes.
18. Gift Experiences
Gifts are an inevitable part of our lives. I love giving gifts, but have experienced the pressure of getting someone something THEY like, not something I’d like to give them. Sometimes there’s a clash here, and the waste free option is not something that they would find a blessing. So, here is the waste free solution. Gift the ones you love the gift of an experience. What’s On in Cape Town is a plethora of amazing events happening all around the city, but some other ideas are a movie ticket, an entrance to a national park/ venue they love, a photoshoot, a dinner voucher, a coffee voucher, or a wine tasting ticket. There are amazing things to do in and around Cape Town, and the gift of an experience is a gift, but also a memory they’ll treasure forever.
19. Buy Less, Be More
This is the easy one. Just buy less. You don’t have to impress people with all the things you can buy or have. Guess what? When you die, it will all mean nothing. What will really matter is the type of person you were and the memories people made with you. Buy less stuff, and be more present in the lives of your loved ones. Think of creative ways to show your love or respect other than physical gifts. You may just be amazed at how your relationships grow this year.
I hope this helps you as you journey into 2019!
Pick any one of these items to work on and you’ll be on your way to a simpler, happier, fuller life, and the earth will be a better place for it!
Let us know which one you’re up for in the comments below ??????