A simple, green & healthy life in South Africa

I love the idea of living a simpler life.  I went through quite a few years living in England spending too much time worrying about what cushions I had on my couch, what and where I was drinking coffee and what I was wearing. I was shallow. I also spent a couple of years living in England, where I had a little vegetable garden, a greenhouse, a compost heap, chickens and I was conscious of what toiletries I used, what food I ate and where it came from, from an ethical/sustainable point of view that is. Guess when I was happier?!

The last year has been a whirlwind, and I suddenly find myself married, and happy, and going back to the things I enjoyed so much – which means living a healthier, more meaningful and cheaper life! Because really, you actually do save money, provided you don’t jump on the bandwagon, but rather just travel along, sensibly. I could go on and on and on about a million different things you can do to try make a difference, but I will try curb my enthusiasm.  Please, don’t get me wrong, I am not judging because I am so far from perfect, there are a ton of things I don’t do, but I just feel if if we all just try do a few things and encourage each other, they will add up to a lot.

Here are some things I am already doing or going to do, to make a difference to my health, happiness, wallet and the environment. Making this list is actually inspiring for me as it holds me accountable in a way! I’ve included links to recipes and products. Please do share any tips you might have on things to do, recipes and/or suppliers in South Africa.

HEALTH & BEAUTY

Switching from nasty chemical filled body lotion to Trash is for Tossers Body Butter

Switching from whitening toothpaste to Trash is for Tossers toothpaste and activated charcoal.

Switching from Plax mouthwash to Wellness Mama’s mouthwash

Switching from sanex and dove soaps to Wellness Mama’s body wash

Switching from nasty chemical filled shampoos to combination of no-poo and Wellness Mamas natural shampoo

Switching from deodorant to natural deodorant

Switched from tampons to MoonCup (fell off the wagon on this one but back on 100% and loving it)

Currently using the Victorian Garden face wash and moisturiser (free of nasty chemicals and tubs last for months)

KITCHEN

Going to use a wormerie to compost my vegetable peelings

Going to use an indoor composter to compost kitchen waste

Switching from plastic storage to glass (already use old glass jam and pickle jars as storage)

Switching from non stick to cast iron

Switching from plastic to more sustainable long lasting products – eg: bamboo, stainless steel

SHOPPING

Buying unpackaged items and shopping in bulk as much as possible

Using my own canvas totes and string bags instead of plastic bags (inc those thin clear bags for fruit & veg)

Making careful choices on needed quality clothing and accessories rather than impulse buying

FOOD

Making my own yoghurt, one less plastic yoghurt tub per week

Making kefir from my own kefir grains rather than buying probiotics Using slow cooker and batch cooking meals

Only buy free range eggs (until I get my own chickens again!)

Sticking as closely as we can to a sugar free diet with help from I Quit Sugar (check all labels for hidden sugars & additives – surprising what is in tinned tomatoes)

Generally don’t eat processed foods such as bread, condiments, biscuits etc – this cuts down a LOT of packaging!

CLEANING CUPBOARD

Switching from Sta Soft to vinegar in my rinse cycle

Switching from sunlight soap to Wellness Mamas dishwashing liquid

Switching from Omo washing powder to Wellness Mama’s laundry liquid, soap nuts and Triple Orange Wonder (going to mix it up and try them all)

Switching from sponges to wood bristle brush

Switched from Handy Andy/CIF to bicarb

Switched from commercial toilet cleaner to vinegar and bicarb

Switched from commercial surface spray to vinegar and bicarb and triple wonder gel

Switched from j-cloths to long lasting microfibre cloths, and e-cloth microfibre cloths

GARDEN

A water tank to water garden is on my wish list

Growing some vegetable and herbs at home

GENERAL

Recycling paper, card, plastic, glass, tin obsessively at our local SPCA

Switched to paperless bank statements etc

Being more aware of switching lights, appliances and chargers off

I set the geyser to timer and switch it off when we are away

I carry a travel mug in my handbag to use instead of takeaway cups

Going to try Trash is for Tossers tip of taking a mason/consol jar to the next market or festival I go to!

I carry a consol water bottle instead of buying mineral water

CONFESSIONS (that I can think of)

We use a nespresso machine. The capsules – argghh – I know, I know

I tend to make unnecessary amounts of car trips (in my defence – it’s not safe to walk round these parts!) —————————————————————————————————

Most importantly, I hope my choices fill my darling husband with inspiration rather than insanity! I will update this post as I find more info.

Some informative and inspiring websites:

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics founded by Environmental Working Group​ amongst others. They have detailed lists explaining all the nasty chemicals such as parabens and sodium laureth sulphates.

Wellness Mama – full of recipes and tips for healthy living

Zero Waste Home – tips and inspiration on reducing waste

Trash is for Tossers – tips and inspiration on reducing waste and recipes

Square Foot Gardening – efficient vegetable gardening in small spaces

I Quit Sugar –  why excess sugar is bad for you and tips on becoming sugar free

South African Suppliers 

Faithful to Nature – online shop for everything natural and healthy living

The Soap Barn – online shop and in Edenvale, Gauteng. Liquid castile, bulk bicarb, epsom salts, shea butter and much more.

K Catz Soap Making Supplies – buy online. Bulk bicarb, epsom salts, shea butter and much more.

10 thoughts on “A simple, green & healthy life in South Africa

  1. There is a LOT to be said for the old fashioned way of doing things – long before chemical cleaners and plastic were freely available. I enjoy looking out for old books about housekeeping to find out what worked then – good place to start.

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    • Thanks for your comment Anne. I completely agree – I have a cleaning company and we use bicarb, vinegar and soda crystals to clean and they work so well – we couldn;t use them if they didn’t! Mrs Beeton’s Book of Houshold Management is quite amusing – look out for it.

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  2. I really enjoyed reading this post colleen – especially about you finding your roots and going back to the way you were earlier on in life . Good luck with the blog and enjoy the journey , best wishes Claire

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    • Thank you so much Claire. It is so nice to get comments; I started the blog in February, only expecting my mom and a couple of friends to read it! Just loving that a few people are actually reading my posts. I am following your blog too now. 🙂

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      • That’s great … I’m just starting out too – sure we will learn from each other .. Veggie patch looking good – I’ll be writing bout it soon ! Enjoy writing and thanks for following !! 😉

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    • Sorry I am not in Edenvale, I am in Ballito now. Are you on Facebook? Check out “Culture Exchange South Africa” – it is a group and people share advice but also grains and cultures. Good luck – stuff is amazing! If you don’t get a freebie – you can buy online through Faithful to Nature or Crafty Cultures.

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