15 ways to take action today-2

The news is full of overwhelmingly bad news, forests are burning, ice is melting, the wellbeing of all people is not being prioritised and we are not feeling heard. Let’s not get anxious, but active, each in our own way, starting today.

Here are 15 ways to take action and play a positive part in our living systems and the wellbeing of all. After all, we are all interconnected, the butterfly, the rainstorm, the child, the forest, the food we eat…the stranger, the starfish, the soil…we are one thriving, diverse, beautiful web of life.


1. Become part of your food cycle, grow some food, even if its herbs on the windowsill, grow to eat. Then return all kitchen organic waste to the nutrient cycle by composting, bokashi bin, chickens, giving to a community garden or simply dig a hole in the ground.

2. Harvest rainwater, and if you can’t then save the water you have access to and try re-use all filtered waste water for gardens

3. Be kind to all life, to a spider, a neighbour, a stranger, a bee

4. Plant trees, lots, or fund someone to do it for you, keep it indigenous to your area

5. Buy local, in-season food, healthier for you and lower impact, support local agroforestry methods of growing food

6. If you eat meat let it be a once a week treat, realistically we won’t all be vegans by tomorrow, but we can reduce our meat consumption and its impacts. Cut out seafood if it is not your subsistence staple, the oceans need to recover

7. Buy second hand clothes, have clothes swops or know where your clothes are made and by whom

8. Divest from any investments/banks linked to fossil fuel, let’s keep the carbon in the ground

9. Speak up, follow Extinction Rebellion and march/speak up when you can, sign up to make ecocide illegal, make informed votes for local and national politicians. Speak for those who have no voice

10. Love who we are, humans are amazing and innovative, share the good news and solutions

11. Stop all poisons, in your home and garden and also ask questions about the food you buy

12. Plant indigenous to your area, let your garden be a haven for bees, birds, all insects and small wildlife. Let the wildflowers and dandelions grow. Protect local indigenous, wild areas and nature corridors.

13. Reduce your plastic impact, refuse single-use plastics, go for reusable or packaging-free wherever you can, reduce or stop eating seafood as ghost fishing tackle causes the most plastic ocean pollution

14. Vote with your wallet, make informed choices about the places and products you regularly support, make sure they have practices good for people and planet

15. Lower your carbon impact, use public transport, carpool, bike, walk whenever you have the option. Reduce the amount you fly, if at all. If renewable energy is an option for you, go for it!

Do you have any other priorities to action? Please add them in the comments…

We can shift to a regenerative culture and economies of wellbeing, the action starts with us, today.

reducing use of nappies

When I fell pregnant the second time the only thing that dampened the flurry of excited butterflies in my belly was the thought of having to deal with the daily onslaught of pooey nappies again. Little did I know then that I wouldn’t have to! My second born was successfully having his number two on the loo from the tender age of one month old and besides the first few weeks, while newborns get into the rhythm of their bodies processing their first external food, i.e.breastmilk, my son had a handful of pooey nappies in his entire lifetime and was potty trained and nappy free in the day by 18 months old. And it was all thanks to reading the book The Diaper Free Baby just after he was born.

So this story needs to be shared because it is life changing and revolutionary stuff as people become more and more aware of the negative impacts of disposable nappies.

It is estimated that parents will go through about 4500- 5000 nappies before their child is potty trained. That is pretty astounding, to think of all the babies using nappies in the world right now creating that much waste to landfill (unless of course they land up in the ocean or elsewhere), plus the thought of human waste (poo) going to landfill too! And then those nappies don’t biodegrade so they are all around for pretty much the next 500-1000 years. So your nappies are still there in a landfill somewhere….weird thought hey? Added to that are the chemicals used in the nappies to hold the wee, not great to have that so close to all that pure pure skin. And then of course the resources needed to make the nappies, package them and transport them absolutely everywhere. It’s a no brainer that they don’t score high in an earth conscious lifestyle, but score very high on convenience and functionality and we have to be real about those factors in our life too. For the sake of my sanity I used a disposable nappy at night because a dry baby and a well rested mom was very conducive to a happy, healthy home.

Reusable cloth nappies are of course a great alternative to disposables.

They are not going to clog up the landfills, they are usually made of natural fibres which will biodegrade at the end of their life cycle and they are far far more cost effective especially as they can be passed down to siblings and friends giving their re-use value real weight. It also means no chemicals against your baby’s skin. There are loads of really good cloth nappies on the market now, have a look at these on Faithful to Nature for some examples. Cloth nappies can be tricky for those experiencing drought, as we did when my son was born, but because he was not creating pooey nappies it became far more viable.

diaper free blog

8 months old and going independently


So how did we do it? The basic principle behind the Diaper Free Baby book is that from birth babies will attempt to communicate when they want to eliminate, but if we don’t respond to their communication they will give up and make do with sitting in their own wee and poo (realistically who would want to, but what choice do they have?). So the light bulb moment is really that simple, if we respond when they communicate their need to go by taking them to the loo or potty, they will continue to communicate and you will be able to catch all the poos and the wees  too if you are able (I wasn’t able to, my hands were full with a toddler and a newborn, but there are those who go completely nappy free!) In the book it is called Elimination Communication or EC and obviously it is not verbal, but when you are looking out for it it becomes very obvious, a grimace, a grunt, a downward pull of the lips, every baby will have their own unique way of communicating to you. It’s also really helpful to be aware of the obvious times they would need to go, like when they have just woken up or finished a feed take them to the loo or potty. And of course, close bonding by wearing your baby in a sling really helps with the communication. The other key element is to create a sound that becomes a code for eliminating so that whenever you go to the loo or potty with your baby you make a specific sound or word so that they start associating that as a reminder that now it is fine to eliminate.

Take a newborn to the loo I hear you asking incredulously? Yes, that’s what I did!

I would sit backwards on the loo facing the cistern and hold him with his back against my chest so that he felt held and safe and then hold him on the back of his thighs so that his knees flopped over my hands and he could eliminate freely straight into the loo. No mess, no fuss! Revolutionary I tell you, to not be bending over a stinky, pooey nappy and trying to clean it all off that pure skin. I’ll never forget that moment when I realised he really had it, I was in Fruit & Veg, carrying him in a sling on my chest, he must have been 3 months old or less and he communicated that he needed to go with a grunt and a grimace. There was no toilet for customers then, so a staff member led me through the back warehouse round pallets over-ripe fruit to the staff loo. And there, at age 3 months, he had a very satisfying elimination in a warehouse toilet in a neighbouring town and there I was bursting with pride! And also very glad that I didn’t have to deal with a stinky nappy while shopping for my fruit and veg!

When they are old enough to sit they can have one of those baby toilet seats that fit on top of the loo and sit there all on their own. When it comes to potty training and going nappy free in the day it is a breeze because you already have the communication all waxed and that was why we were able to get rid of the nappies completely at such a young age. It’s really not rocket science, but it is so rewarding and if you think about it this is how we always would have done it before the invention of nappies, we’ve just forgotten how. But babies haven’t, they remember just fine!

water blog 2

Dear people of Cape Town, the deep seated ache you feel for rain right now is a constant longing and ever present ache for those of us who live off rainwater. We’ve been living solely on rainwater for the last 10 years, so being keenly aware of water usage has become second nature for my children, as it was for me growing up on a farm running purely on rainwater. When water is not an infinite resource that pours from a tap, but rather a precious lifeline that changes with the seasons, the darkening of the sky, the bleak days of drought and the ecstatic first sounds of raindrops hitting the roof as it runs into your rainwater tanks, it becomes a thread that runs deep in your veins.

So here are some of our water saving ways that form a natural part of everyday life:

1) Only wash dirty clothes – this is a biggie and I speak from the privileged position of having a washing machine. Wear clothes until they are truly dirty enough to go in the machine, the habit of wearing something once and then just chucking it in the laundry basket without first CHECKING if it actually warrants a wash is foreign to us. The same goes for towels and bedding which use a lot of water, don’t just wash them because you always wash on a Monday, ask yourself if they actually need a wash? And of course, only use the washing machine when it is ABSOLUTELY FULL. As a family of four we do two loads of washing a week to give you an idea….

IMG_6439 (Copy)2) Use biodegradable cleaning products – that way your used water can have a second use, the term GREYWATER has luckily become a well known concept. We have all the water from our bathroom going to the veggie garden through a filter of reeds and the kitchen water goes to a banana circle because, well,  bananas love water. There are many clever DIY ways of doing this or get in a company to help you. Here are some great local, biodegradable cleaning products… Probac, Naturally Good, the Clean Shop, Greenman.

3) Eat meat as a treat – your water saving ways can go beyond just the changes you make in your home habits, they can also include your consumer choices in the shops. Meat production uses far more agricultural water than vegetables and grains do. So if you are a meat eater why not have it as a treat, as it used to be, and not every night. Or go for Green Monday or Meat Free Monday, just having meat one less day a week will already have a sizable impact. And if you do buy meat, go for something like Karoo Choice where good veld management is a priority, protecting the river catchments.

4) Garden water wise – nothing grates a rainwater bunny like myself more than seeing gardens being watered in the heat of day when most of it is evaporating, plus it burns the leaves of the plants! Obviously if you have radical water restrictions you can’t water your garden (or if you are like my 7 year old you would be aghast at the fact that anyone could even ever water their lawn, we of course never can and never do) but it’s pretty obvious that it’s far better to water your garden in the cool hours of the day early morning and evening when it’s not all going to evaporate. Other simple water wise ways are to heavily mulch your garden beds to lock in the moisture, plant plants that are indigenous to your area and therefore adapted to the climate and the rainfall and remove any thirsty exotics especially if they are invasive.

IMG_6364 (Copy)5) Get a rainwater tank – it’s life changing, your relationship with water will never be the same as your heart will soar every time it rains and you know you are storing water for drier times. It just makes so much sense, and boy do I wish that every new house built in this country had a mandatory rain tank. They come in all shapes and sizes now to suit all rural and urban needs, it’s a capital outlay for sure but the rewards are very long lived!

6) Pools are a luxury – and should be treated as such. Being on rainwater we of course don’t have one, so I don’t have many real life tips around this, but perhaps there are basic responsibilities when it comes to pools, like re-using the water for the garden when you backwash and getting a cover to prevent evaporation?

7) Be truly water conscious – being aware of all our daily interactions with water needs to become second nature for all of us, it just has to. We live in South Africa, enough said. The only time a tap should be left running is when there is a plug in to catch the water that can be used for multiple purposes whether it’s washing dishes or veggies or two children in a shallow bath and then that water gets used again when it goes out to the garden. Every time we use water we feel aware of its value, only fill the kettle for how much tea you will drink, only flush the loo if you have to, only use the dishwasher when its full to capacity. Water saving ways need to run in our veins, it’s a matter of survival.

As our climates change and flux due to man made activities and dry places become drier and wet places wetter, we too need to change our ways and our relationship to water, because fresh, delicious, abundant water is not a given, not in any way, but rather a treasured resource to be treated with the utmost respect and care.

#VoteWithYourWallet and support businesses that have water saving measures in place, find them here.

Here are some ideas of how you can take action, but you may have even better creative ideas that will put a stop to campaigns like this even being considered again. Let’s make our voice heard! Please share your ideas in the comments.

There has already been a great outcry about the return of Stikeez and their negative impacts on people and planet, featured on social media, news media, blogs and even people being blocked from commenting on the Pick n Pay page!

collage3-copyThe question is whether Pick n Pay is taking note or if they are just going to stick (ha ha) to their story and continue regardless, they say: “Stikeez is a time-limited, fun campaign with a negligible environmental impact. Importantly, Stikeez are fully recyclable.The waste impact is negligible partly because the number of Stikeez represents a tiny fraction of the total plastic being sent to landfill in South Africa. In fact, we’d have to run this campaign for 150 years – with every single person who has ever got one not keeping or recycling them – just to make up 1% of the current plastic to landfill each year. Pick n Pay has a proven commitment to the environment and sustainability.”

What do you think of their response?

It is exactly the same response they gave a year ago when John Maytham read my Open Letter to Pick n Pay – Withdraw your Stikeez  out on CapeTalk. The logic is alarming. Surely a huge corporate entity like Pick n Pay needs to be held accountable? Can they say one thing and do another just because Stikeez was one of the most successful retail campaigns SA has ever seen (as featured in Finweek). Pick n Pay you need to decide, either you are committed to the environment or you’re not. And if you are then Stikeez are out of the question from an educational, natural resource, local economy and waste perspective. It’s that simple.

I absolutely loved this story from a mom I was chatting to on the weekend… she told her girls that this year they could not get the Stikeez because of all the negative impacts, but they were aghast and felt it was unfair. So she told them if they could find ALL the Stikeez that they got from last year’s campaign then they could get more this time round. Well, they couldn’t find any! And then it sunk in for them. Where have all the Stikeez landed up? My friends have found them on top of Cederberg mountains and in the Sterkfontein Caves… Read why the Two Oceans Aquarium will not endorse the Stikeez campaign due to the impact of plastic on marine life and how a truckload of plastic “leaks” into the ocean every minute. 

In their blog they suggest that everyone who is opposed to Stikeez makes their consumer voice heard and speaks out directly to Pick n Pay. Let’s do it and let’s hope they listen this time. I really thought they had listened when we all spoke out the last time and that the Super Animal cards were a positive response to our concerns, I even congratulated them for listening and responding to the power of the consumer voice, read Raise your Consumer Voice – It Works. I was wrong.



So what can we all do now?

  1. Sign the petition 
  2. Write to Pick n Pay 
  3. Don’t shop at PnP stores and tell them why
  4. Refuse Stikeez at the check out and tell them why
  5. Ask your children’s school if they will include information about the negative impacts of Stikeez in their newsletter and/or ban them
  6. Explain to your children why Stikeez are so bad and empower them to make informed choices

There must be even cleverer ideas out there of what we can do that will make Pick n Pay and all other retailers (like Checkers with their Mini Groceries and Spar with their Angry Birds) seriously reconsider these kinds of campaigns again.

Have you got any brilliant ideas? Share them! Let’s take back our power.

eco-atlas-blog-oct-16So many of us want to do good, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start…

Or we feel the state of the world is so overwhelming that it seems like what we do in our homes can’t possibly make a difference.

But it does. Everything is interconnected and all the small choices and actions we take have ripple effects out into the world.

This blog is about doing what we can, with what we have, to make sure those effects are as positive as possible. We don’t have to save the world, but we can do our very best to have a happy, healthy home that ultimately has a good impact on people and planet.

Eco Efficient Homes


Guiding ideals….First do no harm. Have a positive impact on people, animals and the planet. Be efficient with natural resources and home finances.


Let’s start by seeing the home as a living organism that breathes in and breathes out. If we want our home to be as healthy as possible for us and our families we want to make sure the home breathes in as much goodness as possible. If we want our homes to be as healthy as possible for the planet we need to make sure that whatever leaves our home has, for the most part, another use or a positive impact.


no-such-thing-as-wasteCrucial to the wish to be efficient is the principle that in nature there is no such thing as waste, one animal’s waste is another treasure, as illustrated by the humble dung beetle. People have created this concept of waste, things that we ‘throw away’, but where is ‘away’ if you consider our interconnected world? Shifting our concept of waste is central to living eco efficiently, how can the waste you produce be minimsed and re-used for other purposes?

1. Towards a zero waste home

The trick here is about reducing the amount of potential waste that enters your home and then making sure that whatever does leave your home as ‘waste’ is recycled or repurposed as much as possible, how can your waste become a treasure for someone or something else…

Refuse: anything that you can only use once and has no other purpose as well as all unnecessary packaging, just simply say no

Reduce: rethink any single-use packaging or anything disposable by rather focussing on re-usable items and buy in bulk where you can

Re-use: wherever you can use re-usable: shopping bags, fruit and veggie bags, stainless steel or glass straws, takeaway coffee cups and food containers, water bottles.

Recycle: recycling only happens after having reduced, refused and re-used, separate your clean recyclables according to your local municipality or recycling service provider

Rot: sending food waste to the landfill is a real waste and could be such a treasure for your garden, compost it or use the bokashi method which is suitable for those without space for a compost heap

leave-the-houseSmall non-recyclable plastics and foils like those from chip packets, cucumber, chocolates can be pushed into an eco brick which you hang somewhere in your kitchen for ease of use. Eco bricks can be used to build schools, benches and more.

Running your home to create as little waste as possible is about setting up new habits and being prepared, have a basket in your car with all your re-usable goodies so that you can refuse packaging. If you don’t have a car carry a small re-usable fold up shopping bag and re-usable water bottle and that will make a big difference.

Have a look at this video of a Zero Waste Home to be inspired and then do what you can with what you have.



2. Water and energy saving

There are lots of simple things you can do here to save both money and the precious natural resources of fresh water and fresh air. Some of these suggestions will cost a little outlay, some a lot and some none, but all of them will save you lots in the long run and really reduce your footprint.

Install LED lights –  they use 10 times less electricity than old fashioned light bulbs and will save you 10 times more on electricity

Put  a brick or full water bottle in your toilet cistern – and save a few litres every time you flush

Divert your greywater to your garden – from your bathroom and kitchen, use a company or DIY it

Solar panels or solar water geezer – the prices keep coming down for these and they pay off big time

Rainwater tanks – for your garden or home, they come in slimline or huge to suit your space

Low flow taps and shower heads

Make sure all new appliances are energy A-rated

Only water your garden before 10am or after 4pm

Geezer blanket and timer – for electric geezers

Insulation – crucial to saving on heating and electricity use

And simple things like showering for one minute less will save 1 400 litres a month in a family of 5, it all adds up!

3. A living wage

Only when we have healthy communities will we have a healthy planet, what you pay your staff has ripple effects into their homes and their communities. Here is a great tool to check if what you pay the staff in your home is a fair and living wage.

know-your-farrmer4. Healthy food

Food is of course central to the health of our families and our homes, guiding principals for healthy food are that it is… locally produced, organic, unprocessed and ethically farmed. Some say you can change the world by the food you have on your plate and it’s true that our consumer choices have far reaching impacts on the health of our soils, the treatment of animals and the overall health of ecosystems. Realistically it’s not always possible to get the healthiest most ethical food, so we do what we can with what we have and recognise that the more we demand healthy food, the more healthy food will be available.

Food is also a very personal choice and whether you’re vegan or a meat-eater it’s important to respect different food choices and not get stuck in arguments about which is better. Having said that though, it is a good idea to catch up with some of the international movements which encourage eating meat-free once a week because the meat industry does have a far greater impact on natural resources. If we ALL had a plant-based meal just once a week it would be the same as taking 240 million cars off the road! Check out Meat Free Monday and Green Monday SA for inspiration, recipes and ideas.

In terms of finding the best local, ethical food find out if there are any co-ops in your area, the Munching Mongoose in Gauteng even delivers your food free of plastic packaging by using re-usable containers! There’s also Ethical Co-Op in Cape Town, Organic Emporium in Joburg, Fresh Organics in Durban and FarmFresh Direct along the Garden Route.healthy-food

5. Buy local

When you shop from big supermarket chains more than half the money leaves the the local community or town whereas if you support local producers the money stays in the community and supports local families and businesses. See what necessities you can get within a 100km radius of where you live, it will make a difference to the lives of so many local families AND you will drastically lower your footprint in terms of how far goods have travelled to get to you.

Once again look out for online co-ops and deliveries, visit local markets so that you don’t have to drive from place to place, or ask the shop you love to shop at to stock local products.

6. Buy second hand

Bea Johnson, who initiated the Zero Waste Home initiative never buys anything brand new, EVERYTHING she buys is second hand, except for food of course! And she always looks fabulous with a very minimalistic wardrobe. There is the concept again of one person’s waste being another’s treasure. Our second hand culture is not as developed here in South Africa as it is overseas, but it is growing fast with sites like GumTree and local community pages on Facebook. It’s a mind shift and habit change to buy everything second hand, but one that will drastically reduce your negative impacts on people and planet.

390183_10150342850397805_1620193693_n7. Grow your own

Whether you live in a flat and grow herbs on your windowsill or on a smallholding with a large veggie garden, everyone can grow some of their own food. Vegetables start loosing their nutritional value the moment they are picked so it’s far healthier to eat your own than what has travelled from farm to depot to shop, plus you know exactly what has gone onto them! It’s simply fresher and healthier and oh so rewarding. For inspiration have a look at Jane’s Delicious Garden and Jane’s Delicious Urban Gardening, you don’t have to think big, start with a pot of spinach and lettuce at your kitchen door.

8. Friendly cleaning products

I don’t know about you but I get a headache from all the chemicals that are put into our cleaning products these days, lots of people are going back to the simplicity of using bicarb, vinegar and lemon for all their household cleaning, it also means no excessive packaging! There are lots of scary ingredients in household products, many of which have been linked to breast and other cancers, so not only are they bad for our ecosystems, they are bad for us. If you’re not keen on the DIY option then luckily there quite a few locally produced ranges to choose, the key questions to ask when choosing household cleaners are whether they are: locally made, biodegradable, not tested on animals, free of known carcinogens, available in bulk and accept returns on containers. Have a look at Greenman, Probac, the Clean Shop and Naturally Good.

9. Friendly body products


Look out for home body and cleaning items that are wood and not plastic

All throughout this blog we’re looking at options that are healthy for us AND for the planet, so what we put on our bodies and our skin, our biggest organ, is of course central to our health. But once again it’s also central to the the goodness of what we bring into our home and send out again, so people and planet friendly body products would ideally be locally made (local economic empowerment, less carbon footprint), not tested on animals (humane and ethical), free of known carcinogens (not bad for you!) and biodegradable (good for greywater systems and waste water leaving your home and eventually reaching the ocean). Have a look at Sassui, Jinja Skincare, Hemporium, Essential Africa and Earth Ant or search the wonderful online eco stores for a wide range of products.

10. Your garden as a habitat

Your garden provides vital living space for so many living creatures from bees to butterflies, birds to lizards. Birds like the sunbird don’t like to fly over areas of alien trees and built up areas so it’s important that we plant indigenous shrubs, plants and trees to provide homes photonumber1and food for them and all the other gorgeous co-inhabitors of our home spaces. Indigenous plants are not only incredibly diverse and beautiful they are also waterwise and adapted to our rainfall areas, plus the insects and birds have adapted to them as a food source. Our gardens can create natural corridors between green belts and nature areas for diverse flourishing ecosystems. On an interconnected planet like ours our survival depends on the survival of so many other living beings.

Try to stay clear of poisons in the home and garden, there are lots of eco friendly options, have a look at this site for recipes and tips to deter ants and other creatures naturally. Poison is one of those things you can’t take back, once you’ve sprayed Doom into your home, it’s there to stay.


Have you got any great tips for running your home more eco efficiently? Share them here in the comments. There is such power in sharing our collective knowledge, don’t let your good ideas go to waste!

hogsback comp

WIN 2 tickets to the Hogsback Festival of Trees and Eco Week

with all meals and camping included 23 Sept – 2 Oct.

September is all about growing so let’s grow the communal information base of places that are good for people and planet – this info becomes powerful in the hands of people who want to create positive change and vote with their wallets for the good guys. Share your suggestions of places we should all be supporting because they recycle, serve ethical food, empower staff with profit share…the list goes on…knowledge is powerful, let’s use it!
And by paying it forward you stand a chance to be rewarded with a tickets to a festival that is paying it forward in so many ways.
Here is everything you need to know about the Hogsback Festival of Trees and the Eco Week of courses on natural building, permaculture, natural horsemanship (and more) that follows after it.
For heartfelt stories and experiences of being at Terra-Khaya and the Festival of Trees and to whet your appetite of what you’ll experience if you win, have read of A Song Made on Solar | and other eco experiences at Terra-Khaya featuring Jeremy Loops and What is a Reforest Festival.

 TO ENTER and stand a chance to…plant trees, dance to local musos, do yoga in the forest, eat healthy food, attend eco workshops and revel in the magic of Hogsback this September…simply fill out the entry form below.

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY

Winners will be announced on Facebook and emailed directly on Friday 9 September 2016.

For an extra entry why not tag the person you would love to go with on the Facebook post!

[The prize includes two festival tickets for the weekend 23 – 25 Sep with all meals and free camping.
+ Free camping and meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner) for the Eco-Week 26 Sep – 2 October
The costs of the Eco-Week courses are not included and nor is transport to the festival.]


EPISODE 6 | Plastic Free Challenge

Nicole Daniels, Stories from the City Edge, Fishhoek, Cape Town

Lives with her husband and two children aged 11 and 6 on the Southern Peninsula of Cape Town and tutors and researches in the Gender and Development Dept of UCT.


I am a researcher, I am writing my PhD, I am a teacher, doula, thinking partner, dancer, mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and lover of the Earth and Source from which All originates.


episode 6_5

Health foods often come in plastic

While I do think it’s possible to do a month of no single-use plastics, bar a few slip-ups, I personally felt defeated by the onslaught of plastic consumption I discovered were part and parcel of my family’s daily life. At the outset I knew I wouldn’t be able to suddenly start baking bread or making my own yoghurt, although I was up to making some body products, in particular soaps and body creams. My failing is due mostly to the fact that without a significant change in lifestyle, how products are marketed and sold makes reducing single-use plastics definitely feasible (and I achieved that) but getting rid of them altogether, slightly nightmarish! For example, if I was willing to change my lifestyle, I would probably go vegan. This lifestyle choice would dramatically decrease my consumption of plastic (and as we all know drastically decrease my carbon footprint too).


Also where I shop and who I buy from affects my plastics footprint and at the moment I shop for convenience and do the best I can buying from major retailers, but they are a big part of the problem… transporting, storing, stocking shelves, having portable products all seem heavily plastics dependent, if not excessively so.



Even though I have also found local solutions like buying organic milk from Docker’s Farm in Noordhoek where I can take my own glass bottle, food consumption is terribly tied into plastic production. Interestingly, in my bid to ‘do the right thing’ ie. buy organic, use alternative medicines, buy in bulk, I inadvertently consumed plastic packaging.

At the same time, when I gave in and ‘did the wrong thing’, i.e. drank coco cola, ate sweets and too much dairy, I encountered the same problem. It felt like a no-win battle. So I caved. If shopping at farmers markets, green grocers, speciality stores, farm stalls etc, were more feasible, there would definitely be less plastic…


Then again it’s also just about saying no, and I’m learning that where and when I do this makes a big difference too. So my most successful outcome for a reduction in single-use waste for July has been in reducing single-use car travel. I know, bit of a jump from plastics to gasoline, but that’s the place where I said ‘no’ with the most conviction. For some reason I could say no, do this differently and implement it (encountering some inconvenience of course), with ease. And for me the experience of ease makes so much possible. It is feeling like ‘I have the power to change this’, and knowing I can. So I suppose that was the jump from plastics to gasoline – it’s what I can do… and will keep doing long past July.

Follow our blog for all the episodes in this Plastic Free Challenge series.

plastic free header pic

Collective solutions from all our stories…every little thing we do adds up and it all counts…it’s not easy to change habits and plastic packaging is everywhere, but the more of us who say NO to single-use plastic the easier it becomes…living a healthy, plastic free life is really difficult and expensive, this needs to change and we CAN change it….and sharing our stories is powerful, we are not alone, we inspire each other and we can take back our power as consumers to create healthy communities and a healthy planet. Who’s in?


[You can search for places that are recycling or using eco packaging on  Eco Atlas and here are some other plastic free wins you should definitely check out – GreenHome, StreamStraws, FreshBag, The Candylwood Store and more…]


EPISODE 5 | Plastic Free Challenge

Hayley McLellan, Stories from the City Centre, Cape Town

An environmental campaigner who runs Rethink the Bag South Africa and shops for herself from her home base in Seapoint, she took the Plastic Free July challenge to the extreme as she has already cut out most single-use plastics from her life.


I come from a KwaZulu-Natal farming family and eating from our massive and organic veggie garden at home is such a privilege. Being back in the city can sway us off this healthy path choice quicker than you can say “give peas a chance!” The presentation of organic, non-plastic-suffocated fruit and veg is even a treat for the eye.

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So I took a visit to Oranjezicht City Farm Market. This is a largely plastic bag-free market. The only fresh produce I saw in transparent bags were the kumquats, which could be avoided.


My purchases for this day cost me R95, which included Happy Hens eggs. It is important for me to be transparent about my Plastic Free July experience and say that I did find shopping organic a tad expensive. Carrots, for example, cost me four times what I would pay in a retail store – munch on that! Next week I will go for the “two for one” specials at the end of the market day.


My taste buds simply love plain, natural, Greek/Bulgarian yoghurt. I never buy any other style. The Camphill brand is superb with a silky texture and a far superior taste than any commercial brand. Again, it also comes at a premium price, but it is in a glass bottle!



It has been a frustrating month as I feel like I did when I was eating strictly gluten free – I have limited choices! I wander the isles with glazed eyes, standing in line at the checkout nauseates me as I look around – with no judgement – but noticing our collective unconsciousness mirrored in our shopping choices and habits…..clutching onto our perceived convenient lifestyles…..


I badly wanted a particular tasting soup on the weekend (in plastic of course) and I just said ‘bugger it’ and bought it, same went for cheese which is R110/kg at Checkers in plastic compared to R250-R350/kg at organic markets! Really! Why can’t we get reasonably priced, not so fancy cheese at markets too? Why does the healthy choice have to be the more expensive choice? I dream about starting a  packaging free grocery store in Cape Town…


For a lovely video on Hayley and the other staff of Two Oceans Aquarium chatting about their Plastic Free July, watch here.


Collective solutions from all our stories – from cities, small towns and the middle of the Karoo…every little thing we do adds up and it all counts…it’s not easy to change habits and plastic packaging is everywhere, but the more of us who say NO to single-use plastic the easier it becomes…living a healthy, plastic free life is really difficult and expensive, this needs to change and we CAN change it….and sharing our stories is powerful, we are not alone, we inspire each other and we can take back our power as consumers to create healthy communities and a healthy planet. Who’s in?

Follow our blog for all the episodes in this Plastic Free Challenge series.

plastic free header pic

[You can search for places that are recycling or using eco packaging on  Eco Atlas and here are some other plastic free wins you should definitely check out – GreenHome, StreamStraws, FreshBag, The Candylwood Store and more…]


Practical solutions, upcycling ideas and exciting alternatives to plastic from Cape Town.

EPISODE 4 | Plastic Free Challenge

Scone Malone, Stories from the Southern Suburbs, Cape Town

Hello everybody, my name is Scone and I live in the cold and lush Southern suburbs of Cape Town. I live with three friends who are all doing postgrad work whilst I do a bunch of varying freelance work from journalism to legal work and building with mycelium.


We collect our water from the Newlands spring and so one change we implemented during Plastic Free July was to replace our clear plastic 25L bottle with brown glass bottles and a wooden crate for transport. We are fortunate to have space for a compost heap and try to recycle everything else. We do a pretty good job of avoiding single use plastic, especially the easy ones like plastic bags, straws etc., but still find others difficult. The thing is that often food comes in overly wrapped containers. One way to get around this is to only buy fresh things and try to buy from markets as much as you can; another way is to grow as much as possible of your own. Things like condiments and milk are also a problem as the containers they come in are discarded after use. There is the option of making your own almond/cashew milk and using glass receptacles; we find that simply upcycling things is another excellent option – washing and drilling holes in the bottom of an old mayo tub makes for a great planter for a bit of yarrow.

The ultimate problem is that we are still so reliant on plastic because manufacturers just see it as the go-to option – it is cheap to produce and so well accepted in society. There are great alternatives, like processing mycelium or agar into functional plastic substitutes,

the only problem being that it is more expensive. Herein lies not only the misconception of price vs cost, but also the fact that with enough momentum the anti-plastic campaign can change the perception of manufacturers that the public are okay with plastic.

It may be a good idea to be vocal about it (without being abrasive or curt, of course) in interactions with manufacturers, producers, retailers and their employees whenever possible. Tell them why you do not want the straw with a smile on your face.

Every little comment adds to the communal subconscious and we will save the planet from our folly. Good luck with your plastic free challenge now and beyond!

To find out more about mycelium as a plastic substitute and building material contact Scone and find out more about MycoMinded.


Follow our blog for all the episodes in this Plastic Free Challenge series.

plastic free header pic

Collective solutions from all our stories…every little thing we do adds up and it all counts…it’s not easy to change habits and plastic packaging is everywhere, but the more of us who say NO to single-use plastic the easier it becomes…living a healthy, plastic free life is really difficult and expensive, this needs to change and we CAN change it….and sharing our stories is powerful, we are not alone, we inspire each other and we can take back our power as consumers to create healthy communities and a healthy planet. Who’s in?


[You can search for places that are recycling or using eco packaging on  Eco Atlas and here are some other plastic free wins you should definitely check out – GreenHome, StreamStraws, FreshBag, The Candylwood Store and more…]