Water filtering with KURO-Bō Activated Charcoal

So not too long ago I caught sight of KURO-Bō Activated Charcoal on Facebook.  I was intrigued and made a mental note to give it a try as I am not 100% happy with my current set up.

They sent one to me to try and so before I go on, to get things clear: yes it was a gift, but if I did not genuinely like it, I wouldn’t be writing about it!

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The stick of charcoal comes in a simple cardboard box with a cardboard info sleeve over it. Packaging is unavoidable here I suppose.  I do like that you are at least left with a decent plain box you could reuse for craft storage or similar at least, or recycle or compost. The stick is wrapped in a thin bag, which is made from wood pulp and 100% compostable


Firstly you need to activate the stick by boiling it in water for 10 minutes. You can then place the stick in a jug or jar of up to 2 litres of water for 6-8 hours or overnight. At first I thought that sounded like a schlep, but it is not at all!  When I wake up in the morning, I fill up two 1 litre consol jars with the purified water, refill the jar with 2 litres of water and in the evening I can repeat the process.  Obviously if I had an extra stick, I could do more at once.  But for a household of two adults, it actually works.

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Once a month you need to boil the stick for 10 minutes. After 3 months you can use the stick in the fridge to absorb smells, help dehumidfy small areas, burn in your braai amongst other suggestions.

KURO-Bō is proven to remove significant levels of toxic heavy metals and chemicals like: lead, aluminium, copper, iron, chlorine, mercury and manganese, as well as E. coli (tested at 99 CFU per 100ml). Plus research also widely suggests that activated charcoal helps to remove many other impurities such as viruses, other bacteria, pesticides, cancer-related Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs), chemical run-off, pharmaceuticals and antibiotics, as well as ethylene, acetic acid vapour and hydrogen from the atmosphere. Apparently it can even absorb electromagnetic waves and radio frequencies! * taken from kuro-bo.com

I was slightly skeptical, but the water actually does taste clean and fresh; I love it!

KURO-Bō enriches water with many of the beneficial minerals that were originally stored in the living hardwood tree from which it was created. These include Magnesium and Calcium, and it neutralises pH as well. Binchotan is also known to releases Potassium and Phosphorus. * taken from kuro-bo.com

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What I really love about it, is that it is such a flexible, transportable system.  If we go away, even camping, I can easily take a stick or two along with me and place it in whatever vessel I have. Likewise at home, I no longer need to have a bulky one-use only set up on my kitchen counter.

I don’t currently use those refill stores as the thought of having to go backwards and forwards, loading and unloading, and pay each time makes me feel unwell. I would literally run out of drinking water every week. Also I don’t like the storing water in plastic thing, especially if it’s hot. I also worry about how much of the minerals and goodness get removed from the water.

So unless you are super lucky and have your own sparkling borehole or built in water filtering system, then I highly recommend these.

You can buy Kuro-bo activated charcoal sticks from their website, a growing list of stores nationwide, or online from Faithful to Nature or Wellness Warehouse.  Remember when shopping online to place a note requesting minimal packaging, no plastic and no single use packaged samples!

VIDEO: Dame Ellen MacArthur

This video clip is quite old but I just love it.  Listen to the surprising thing that Dame Ellen MAcArthur learned sailing solo around the world!

“What do you learn when you sail around the world on your own? When solo sailor Ellen MacArthur circled the globe – carrying everything she needed with her – she came back with new insight into the way the world works, as a place of interlocking cycles and finite resources, where the decisions we make today affect what’s left for tomorrow. She proposes a bold new way to see the world’s economic systems: not as linear, but as circular, where everything comes around.”

The change seems to be in your wallet!

A zero waste lifestyle (or the attempt at one), is not something that just happens, it happens as we educate ourselves, grow, motivate each other and grow even more!

Everywhere we look we are told we should recycle.  If we recycle, we are doing our bit for the planet. But you soon discover recycling is not actually the answer. Reducing the packaging you buy, that needs to be recycled, that is the answer. Just because something is recyclable doesn’t mean it gets recycled. We need to give more thought to what happens to things we purchase & consume not just when they are in our hands. What happens to that plastic bag or tin after you have placed it in the recycling bin?

greener-grassYou then start thinking further, about who is producing your food, how they are doing it and what effect their processes have on our planet.  Whilst we should be super conscious of what we eat, what we buy, our waste, our electricity, water and fuel consumption … what about the shops and organisations we support?  If they are not making careful and considerate choices behind the scenes and doing the best they can to care for the environment, should we be supporting them? For example, the restaurant that doesn’t even recycle, uses disposable cutlery, and sends tons of food waste to landfill and does who knows what else?! Should we be supporting them?

We have so much power in our wallets.  Give your support and hard earned money to the businesses who care; who care not just about you and giving you the best, but by doing their best for the environment at the same time. We each have the power to make a difference.  Most of the time, it doesn’t feel like we are making a difference – but trust me – we are!

The way we will make change is by being the change we want to see.  We need to not be discouraged when seeing other people using disposables, and by seeing all the litter. We need to just do our best with what we have.  Stay positive and just always do our best to vote with our wallets. It is so easy to get despondent when things don’t go as we hope, but this won’t benefit anyone.

I know, it is easier said than done.  I am not a crazy person who has taken leave of my corinthianssenses. But we really can make change by making better choices and voting with our wallets. Be brave. If your local store is not meeting your needs, let them know.  Don’t be a whinge bag about it, but just let them know that you love their products/service, and want to see them do well, and suggest some changes.  Don’t be disheartened when you don’t hear what you want to hear. Put yourself in their shoes, they might have thought they were doing fantastically (with what they knew). Just stay positive.  You have done your bit by letting them know, rather than just not supporting them without giving them a chance.

There is a South African website called Eco Atlas; a platform for ethical businesses to advertise their establishments or products, as long as they meet certain criteria. If you are going on holiday, why not choose a guest house who has proven to make good choices.  Also see what shops, products or restaurants are in your local area.  Maybe you know a business that should be listed, nominate them!

Eco Atlas is a great platform to help us seek out the organisations who are really doing their best to care for our earth and it’s people and animals.  Help Eco Atlas grow to make it easier for people all over the country to educate and motivate each other and vote with their wallets. Also check out their Facebook page, lots of info to educate and inspire change.

No I am not saying you mustn’t recycle – I am saying stop buying so much stuff that needs to be recycled.  I am saying you must reduce your single use packaging, especially plastic.


Some basic water saving tips in South Africa

JoJo Water South AfricaMost parts of our beautiful country are in desperate need of rain.  There have been many prayer meetings and posts circulating about it, but unfortunately, when we do then get a bit of rain, we all seem to quickly forget!  But we still have not had nearly enough rain.

Many dams are still bone dry, many towns have no water or water restrictions.  Farmers crops (our food), are still suffering as are animals, both farm and those in the wild.  The Vaal dam is currently at 27%! The Vaal supplies the Gauteng area – so every time you switch on your tap – you are contributing to the emptying of this dam!

There are a gazillion different ways to save water – here are just some of the super easy ones.  Another idea – print off a picture of the dam or farmers suffering crop and stick it on your fridge or in your bathroom cabinet.  Or put a memo up to remind yourselves to continually pray for rain.

In the bathroom:

  • Make sure you have the water reducing tap and shower heads.
  • Shower rather than bath
  • Take navy showers (switch off water between soaping, shaving, scrubbing etc)
  • Keep a bucket at your feet to collect water whilst showering
  • Place a water saving “brick” or bottle filled with water in the cistern
  • Place a tub under tap to collect water whilst waiting for it to get hot
  • If it’s yellow let it mellow ….
  • Fine family members for taking long showers!

In the kitchen:

  • Place a tub under tap to collect water whilst waiting for it to get hot
  • Place soap on scourer and wash dishes, then quick rinse rather than filling sink with water
  • Wait till you have a load of dishes rather than bit by bit
  • Leave the tub in the sink to catch water from washing hands
  • Use eco friendly soap, then you can use dirty water to water plants


  • Get a jojo or drum to collect rain water from gutters
  • If you can afford it – install a grey water system
  • Leave buckets / large tubs outside instead of storing indoors, to collect rainwater (amazing how fast these fill)
  • If you must wash your car, try and wash it on the lawn. Use a bucket of water (ideally water you have been collecting) rather and be super frugal with the hose.
  • Use lots of mulch in your flower and veg beds to keep moisture in.
  • When watering plants, only do so super early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid evaporation.
  • Don’t use a hose to clean patios and driveways – use a broom
  • Don’t encourage water toys with kids – great opportunity to educate them why!
  • Educate kids on turning taps on gently and turning off tightly – and why.
  • Check all your taps and pipes for leaks and drips
  • When mowing the lawn, leave the cuttings on the lawn to cool the lawn and protect roots. Acts as a mulch.
  • Use drip irrigation rather than sprinklers where suitable

We can all play our part in saving water – where ever we are in the world, even when it is raining outside!

Feel free to share in the comments any other ideas of how you are saving water.


Ecoffee Cup now available

The amazingly gorgeous Ecoffee cup is now available from Life Lived Simply.  For just R189, you will be prepared to always proudly refuse single use takeaway cups.

There are 6 different designs and the cup is 340ml.  So next time you want to grab a takeaway coffee, just hand over your cup and the barista can place it in directly.  Some stores even offer small discounts for using your own cup.

Best of all, you can sip with the confidence of knowing you are not contributing to the 100 billion single use cups that end up in landfill.

What I love about this cup is that it is light, and whilst the manufacturers do admit to it not yet being perfect, they are working on it.  The bamboo cup is made from naturally organic, naturally sterile bamboo fibre sourced from managed plantations in Anji province in central China; combined with non-GMO corn starch and a resin binder. The sleeve and lid are made from high quality food grade silicone – which is made from silicon (silica) and oxygen. Both elements are recyclable. It is free of BPA and phthalates, and if you look after it it should last a lifetime. The cup is biodegradable, you just need to crush it, soak it in boiling water and then bury it in organic compost, and it will take 24 – 36 months to fully biodegrade.

I particularly love that it is standard coffee cup size, as this avoids confusion at the counters.  I have already chosen my cup! Fits perfectly in my handbag along with my folded up cotton shopping bag, Freshbag, stainless steel straw and reusable napkin – so I am always prepared and able to politely refuse the single use.


As I mentioned in a previous post, I am working on the shop aspect of my site.  If you would like to order and Ecoffee cup, then drop me a line at mrscolleenblack@gmail.com. Check out the other waste producing products I have available too.

Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle & rot – always in that order.

Reduce Waste to Landfill – South Africa

I created a group on Facebook called Reduce Waste to Landfill – South Africa, because I wanted a one stop spot for sharing tips on where & how to shop in SA to reduce waste. Also a place to share ideas and motivate each other, some might even choose to collaborate on various projects.

Whether you are a zero waste guru, or whether you have only just started using reusable shopping bags, whether you are vegan or a meat eater; all are welcome. It is only specific to South Africa.


💚 Share positive tips on what you do to reduce your waste.
💚 Share tips on good places to shop packaging or reduced packaging free.
💚 Share useful websites and articles on reducing waste.
💚 Share your relevant blog posts.
💚 Businesses can promote their page/product no more than once a week.
💚 Ask for advice.
💚 Be sure to check out the files tab for info on useful products and links.
💚 Be nice.


💙 Use bad language
💙 Make political or racist comments
💙 Post graphic pictures or videos
💙 No judgements of vegans, meat eaters, milk drinkers etc etc etc.

Spread the word and let’s all help each other reduce our waste to landfill and live healthier, happier lives in our beautiful country, South Africa.


Grooming – Then & Now

So back in May last year I wrote about some changes we were making in our lives towards the zero waste lifestyle.

We have come a long way since then!  In that things have gotten simpler, I over complicated so many things along the way. Which appears to be par for the course on the zero waste journey from what I have read.


May 2015 – Switching from nasty chemical filled body lotion to Trash is for Tossers Body Butter
May 2016 – Using either coconut, almond or jojoba oil.  Less faff on buying ingredients and making.

May 2015 – Switching from whitening toothpaste to Trash is for Tossers toothpaste and activated charcoal.
May 2016- still using coconut oil & bicarb but leaning towards straight bicarb.  Again – less faff and coconut oil.  My teeth are still white without using charcoal.  That stuff is hecticly messy.

May 2015 – Switching from Plax mouthwash to Wellness Mama’s mouthwash
May 2016 – Didn’t really use it.  I mix aloe gel, water and a few drops of spearmint, more for husband really.

May 2015 – Switching from sanex and dove soaps to Wellness Mama’s body wash
May 2016 – Bought Ouma Hannas Boerseep without plastic packaging in bulk. Less ingredient buying and making.

May 2015 – Switching from nasty chemical filled shampoos to combination of no-poo and Wellness Mamas natural shampoo
May 2016 – Too stressful so I use Natures Gate Shampoo & Conditioner (Dischem) and on home days a bandana. I sometimes use dry shampoo made from a mix of cocoa powder and maizena.

May 2015 – Switching from deodorant to natural deodorant
May 2016 – Using a homemade deodorant to avoid packaging of previous. But switching to alum stone which I used in UK years ago and was just reminded it existed. I am such an idiot.

May 2015 – Switched from tampons to MoonCup (fell off the wagon on this one but back on 100% and loving it)
May 2016 – Still using Mooncup and thrilled with it.

May 2015 – Currently using the Victorian Garden face wash and moisturiser (free of nasty chemicals and tubs last for months)
May 2016 – Oil cleansing with jojoba oil, exfoliating with bicarb or coffee grounds, and moisturising with rosehip oil.

May 2015 – Stopped wearing nail polish.  Literally thought I might die. But google the chemicals. Eish.
May 2016 – Still not wearing nail polish, love the look.  How much time does it take to put on, take off, wait to dry, chip, get annoyed because it’s chipped.  How much do manicures and pedicures cost and bottles of nail polish cost?  The chemicals you breathe in salon and that are absorbed. Oh please – ain’t nobody got time for that. I am too busy planning holidays and living life.

May 2015- Stopped buying perfume and really minimised use of the ones I had – a Long Barn spray and a Jo Malone from my wedding.
May 2016 – Still not finished them.  Don’t really miss it that much.  Again, the chemicals and links to cancer – no thanks. Now when I smell peoples perfume, all I can think is, those are quite likely carcinogens I’m breathing in. Nice.

Other changes I have made:

Due to lack of chemicals in our baths and showers, the water from these drains into a bucket and straight into the garden bed and lawn.

I don’t scrub every inch of my body with lathering soap every day.  I wash the important bits. Less soap is used, less time under water and less drying on my skin.

I have navy showers on the thorough days ie; switch water off between soaping, scrubbing, shampooing and shaving.

I don’t wear make up every day anymore, on the odd occasion I will wear a bit of mascara and eyeliner. I used to fear breathing without making on as I thought I looked like a beady eyed alien.  Now I think I look like me, and I am happy with that.  That said, I do sometimes wear a teensy dot of make up.  With recipes from the book Zero Waste Home (buy it – it’s amazeballs) I make my own eyeliner, mascara and beet stain. I use combinations of cocoa powder and maizena for blusher (also the beet stain) and eyeshadow. Will blog another time about that specifically.

I know longer use wax strips.  I use a stainless steel safety razor, which is amazing.  I am going to try the sugar wax that I read about via Zero Waste Home.

So that is pretty much where we are with this area. Saving a ton of money and time, no  nasty chemicals being absorbed into our skin, less packaging needing to be recycled or sent to landfill, and best of all, you start viewing yourself and life differently.

I buy my bicarb and oils from The Soap Barn in Edenvale (buy online & the courier) and from Dischem.

Would love to hear if you have any tips or advice, or if you are struggling in certain areas, maybe I can help?