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Every time I see litter or people harming their environment and the creatures in it, I recall the words of Chief Seattle, 1854.

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

Growing up on a farm in Mpumalanga, I was very aware of the natural environment and our impact on it. I loved the fresh crisp air, looking for and playing with bugs of all kinds, swimming in the river, smell the soil after dad tilled it and picking beautiful veld flowers and proteas. Soon I learnt that alien species, like the black wattle had a negative influence on the aquatic ecosystem and that the number of yellow fish in the river had diminished because of it. I also learnt early about soil erosion that scarred the land and hated the fact, that anything that didn’t have a use was either burned, dumped or buried in a landfill site.

A couple of years ago it was quite difficult to recycle anything, but it has become much easier and we are constantly made aware to live a sustainable life; to reduce, re-use and recycle, conserve energy and water, to use ecologically friendly construction methods and environmentally friendly resources.

We hear about climate change and natural disasters but don’t want to accept responsibility for what is happening. How many of you are actually taking note of what you can be do to lessen the impact of your footprint on your environment? Every time you use electricity, water, drive your car, make purchases or put out trash, you are making a decision that affects the environment.

Reduce your carbon footprint?

Reduce your trash that ends up on the landfill sites by looking very carefully at your garbage.

  • Purchase only items that you really need
  • Consider the packaging and ask yourself if it can be recycled
  • Organise for electronic accounts, pay online, print less.
  • Take your own bags when shopping.
  • Switch off lights.
  • Reduce the bulk of your cardboard waste by collapsing and folding boxes.

General rules for recycling:

  • Rinse food and beverage containers and leave to dry
  • Don’t recycle materials that are stained by food or organic materials
  • Keep paper separate from other recyclables
  • Place recyclables in bags before placing in Recycling bins
  • As a responsible recycler place the recycling in the correct bins at centres and keep it tidy.
  • Keep your bins clean!
  • Train your employees.

Seperate your garbage:

1. Re-usable

  • Organic waste from the kitchen into a composter or worm farm
  • Repurpose bottles and containers for different storage
  • Give away clothing and unwanted usable household items to charities or welfare.
  • Turpentine – after cleaning paintbrushes let the solid settle at the bottom, pour the turps back into a bottle for future use.
  • Print paper on both sides.
  • Re-make or re-invent.Change an article into something new.

2. Recyclables

  • Re-Cycle into different colour bins to make sorting easier: paper and carboard(blue), metal(grey), plastic(red), glass(green)
  • Polystyrene: can be recycled 20 times.
  • Special recycling: Collect CFLs(compact fluorescent lamp)Contain mercury, Batteries,ink cartridges and plastic shopping bag. Drop these of at Pick’npay Hypermarkets
  • Motor oil to Rose-Recycling Oil , NORA-SA or some Garages
  • Electronic goods such as television sets, old computers, cell phones and household
  • appliances are referred to as e-waste can be taken to Makro

3. Non-recyclables of which there are only a few go into the Municipal bin for the landfill.

  • Paper or packaging that is soiled with organic material.
  • Wax, foil or plastic laminated paper
  • Cling wrap, florist wrap
  • Aerosol cans
  • Disposable diapers
  • Window glass windscreens.
  • China, porcelain, ceramics, crystal, mirrors, cooking ware.

Keep Recycling simple, accessible and easy to maintain

  • Keep four bins close to where you will recycle. Place bin bags inside each to easily remove it for transport to your nearest recycler. Place your paper into the Ronnie bags for Kerb pick up.
  • Most Hospice outlets, Pikit-up and Municipal dumps have sites for recycling.
  • Some Areas are so lucky to already have kerbside pickup by the municipality, others are serviced by “mama she’s waste recyclers” (Don’t need to separate the recycling, you purchase the bags but don’t pay for the pickup)
  • If you don’t want the hassle to take your recycling somewhere or to don’t mind to pay for the service, in Pretoria “Green Getters” collect from your door twice per month. (Different options available)

Below are the contact numbers for the different waste materials and organisations you can contact for further information:

Can you believe it?

According to an article, “Cloth Nappies or Disposable Nappies? “ on, “more than 1 ton of disposable nappies per baby are thrown into landfill every year. One disposable nappy takes more than 135 years before it starts to disintegrate. Approximately 1,2 billion disposable nappies are thrown away in South Africa annually. Disposable nappies now comprise 5% of all household waste.”

In Zanzibar you don’t get any plastic bags when shopping, only paper bags are used!

Now put your heart into it and lead by example, if each of us takes a step to make a small change, it will make a huge impact globally.

Take care till next time and happy recycling

Heidi Meyer

Professional Organiser

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