A Greener Home – 3 Small (or Big) Changes You Can Make Now

How many of us would like to make our homes greener, but are put off by the cost? There are lots of great things we could do if we only had an unlimited budget… we dream of going off-grid but never take a step towards it as we just can’t afford the investment.

While it would be great to take giant steps towards a greener lifestyle, there are plenty of small steps that we can take now, instead of waiting to win the lottery. Here are a few suggestions:

Showerheads-water-savingWater Saving
Small Step: The simplest, cheapest and quickest way of saving water is by switching your regular shower head to a low flow, water efficient shower head. Typically you can cut your shower water consumption by half. In an average household where three showers are taken a day, this would save 38,000 litres a year. The cost of a low flow showerhead can be anything from R100 to R1000, so do your research first to find the right one for you. Continue reading

Green Intentions for the New Year

New comfrey leaves growingNew Year’s resolutions are all too often made only to be broken. There’s something about a list of must and must nots that stirs up the rebel in all of us. So I’ve long since changed to setting intentions, and not just at new year. However the beginning of a new year is a great time to look at what you are doing with fresh eyes and see if there are any steps you can take to improve on things.

My green intentions are all about building on where we’ve started to go greener. Continue reading

Re-use Cereal Boxes As Disposable Compost Bins

Re-use cereal boxes as compost binsIf you have a compost heap, eat boxed cereals and don’t like too many plastic buckets cluttering up your kitchen, this idea for instant disposable compost bins could work for you, as well as it works for us.

An empty cereal box makes a great container for compostable kitchen waste. The great thing about it from my point of view is that it is only large enough for a few days worth of vegetable peels, so that we take it out to the compost heap more frequently, reducing the likelihood of flies and fruit flies in the kitchen. When it goes out to the heap, the peels are emptied on to the heap and the cardboard box gets torn into pieces and added to the compost. Then we start fresh with the next empty box.

compost binA cereal box is neat and fits into a smaller space than a plastic bucket would do. There is no washing out of buckets, or build up of mouldy stuff that you sometimes get when the bucket takes too long to fill. And as a bonus you are automatically adding more carbon dense material to balance out all those green kitchen scraps. Plus recycling and re-using some of your excess cardboard.

compost heap

How Green is Tetrapak?

Tetrapak has been with us for years and what was once an innovative new packaging we now take for granted. Their marketing used to be based on functionality and ease of use, but increasingly they are seeking to position their packaging products on reduced environmental impact.

Tetrapak reputedly has a lower carbon footprint than plastic bottles and is even challenging glass bottles  in the eco-friendly stakes. So do we believe the claims?

Reduced transport costs per item
One of Tetrapak’s big advantages over round bottles, whether plastic or glass, is its square format. Containers stack closely, meaning that a greater number of items can be transported at a time, reducing the carbon footprint of the transport. The weight is significantly less than glass  bottles too, making a big difference in cost and carbon footprint for any items being shipped long distances.

Tetrapak latest designProduction
The resources used in production of Tetrapak, are another matter. While they use far less petroleum products than plastic bottles, they are based on cardboard which of course uses trees. In the past this has been a sticking point in the eco-friendly claims, but Tetrapak have now addressed this with their latest product – the Tetra Brik Aseptic 1000 Edge: it uses Forest Stewardship Council certified packaging material, meaning that the cardboard comes from renewable forestry sources. To this they have added green polyethylene closures which will be available from 2012.

Recycling
The final aspect to look at for carbon footprint is how recyclable Tetrapak actually is. It ought to be fully recyclable, but, in many areas, city councils and municipalities don’t have the facilities to recycle it. In these cases it just adds to the landfill problem. This however isn’t really Tetrapak’s problem, as theoretically their packaging can be recycled.

All in all it seems that Tetrapak is making great efforts to be environmentally friendly. Though it’s probably going to be a while before the consumers are convinced that buying wine in Tetrapaks rather than glass bottles is the way to go!

Check out this article which compares Tetrapak with plastic bottles for carbon footprint purposes.
And keep an eye out here for the latest news in packaging .

International Coastal Clean Up Day

coastal-cleanup-dayThis Saturday 17th September has been designated International Coastal Cleanup Day. It’s an annual event raising awareness of the problems of marine pollution and doing something practical to help.

Volunteers not only collect litter from disposable cups to fishing nets to cigarette butts and so on, but catalogue the data so that action can be taken to try and reduce the amounts of litter in the ocean and on beaches. Last year there were 9 million people involved worldwide and they managed to collect more than 3.2 million kilograms of litter from beaches in more than 100 countries.

If you’re in Cape Town you can join the Aquarium’s coastal cleanup in Muizenberg, or contact www.cleanup-sa.co.za. for details of other cleanup events happening on the same day. We’ll be heading to Big Bay for the cleanup event there.

Electrolux Vac from the SeaAnother recycling initiative we like is Electrolux’s Vac from the Sea. They have created several signature vacuum cleaners made from recycled plastic collected on beaches and oceans around the world. They are now in the process of making a South African model. Unfortunately these cool vacs are not for sale, but for awareness and promotional campaigns, but they’ve got the idea right and are aiming to increase the amount of recycled plastics in their retail range.