UPDATE: Zero Waste Home – South Africa Tour 2017

Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home is the guru of the Zero Waste lifestyle. She is inspiring people around the world by sharing her journey through social media and being invited to give talks around the world. She has given 100+ speeches in 20+ countries on 5 continents, since 2011. She has spoken at The European Parliament, United Nations, Google, Adobe and more.

So imagine my joy when she asked if I would be interested in helping getting her to South Africa in May! Especially as she is the one who inspired me to start my journey.


Photo taken from Zero Waste Home.com

If you or your company are interested in assisting with sponsoring, making a donation towards the cost, or even hosting a talk, but would like any further information, please do get in touch with me to chat about it. You can reach me on mrscolleenblack@gmail.com.

Once we have venues confirmed, an event page will be created for each location, and all sponsors will be promoted via these pages. In the meanwhile, please express your interest on the event page on Facebook by selecting “Interested” or “Going”.

Our major sponsors are EcoJarz and Faithful to Nature.  We also have support from Ecoffee Cup SA and KURO-Bō Activated Charcoal.

Thank you to our organisers – Eco Atlas, Rethink the Bag / Two Oceans Aquarium and Food & Trees for Africa.

Zero Waste Home Tour SA Cover

5th May – Cape Town – Two Oceans Aquarium (Organiser: Rethink the Bag)
6th May – Plettenberg Bag – Beacon Island Resort (Organiser: Eco Atlas)
8th May – Durban – venue to be confirmed (Organiser:Food & Trees for Africa)
9th May – Johannesburg – venue to be confirmed (Organiser:Food & Trees for Africa)

Please do help spread the word by sharing this info and reaching out to your contacts so that we can make this a reality! Invite your friends, tag them, share this post, phone your friends, talk to relevant businesses, do whatever it takes!
If you would like to support this, you or your business can make a pledge on our crowdfunder on ThundaFund.







Zero Waste feature in Platteland magazine

If you missed my article about attempting Zero Waste Living in the last copy of Platteland, the Summer 2015/16 issue of Platteland and other back issues can be ordered from http://winkel.weg.co.za/platteland/?brand=platteland.

Platteland Summer 2015 Trash Must Fall (2)Platteland Summer 2015 Trash Must Fall (3)Platteland Summer 2015 Trash Must Fall (4)Platteland Summer 2015 Trash Must Fall (1)

Links to people and organisations mentioned in the article.  Please note I was note sponsored/paid to mention anyone or anything, all views were my own.

Platteland Magazine

Zero Waste Home

Remade Recycling

Heidelberg SPCA

Triple Orange Gel

Faithful to Nature

Trash is for Tossers

Algalita Marine Research & Education

Story of Stuff

Abeego reusable food wrap

EcoJarz stainless steel straws

Probio Bokashi Composter

Zero Waste Bloggers Network – over 170 members worldwide

You can buy all the ingredients in large quantities for making your own products from The Soap Barn in Gauteng. They have an online shop.


My inspiration – Bea Johnson – Zero Waste Home

Here are some great videos from the woman who inspired my attempts towards a zero waste lifestyle.


You can find her on Facebook and visit her website where she has an amazing list of 100 tips to lower waste in your home.

Zero Waste Food Shopping in South Africa

Unless you have a fantastic bulk foods store or farmers market nearby, then grocery shopping can seriously get in the way of Zero Waste living.  But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it is impossible!

Things have been made slightly easier for us, as before I decided to take the road towards Zero Waste, we decided to cut majority of sugar, processed food and a lot of starch (pasta, rice, potato) from our diet.  We have small amounts of sugar in tea or coffee.

Everyone is different, but for us, this lifestyle isn’t just about the environment, it is very much about the quality of our lifestyle and our health.

In the beginning I used to be really hard on myself and get a bit annoyed with my failures.  But I got over it!  As long as we all do our best to make a change, then that is fantastic.  I think God created only one Bea Johnson for a reason!! Well, that is my excuse anyway, and for now, I am sticking to it!

Packaging when shopping

When I do go to any grocery store, I take my own reusable shopping bags.  I never use those thin plastic produce bags to weigh my produce, if it is a single item I just tell them to stick the label directly onto the item.  Otherwise I would take my own reusable ziplock bags, or plastic bags I saved from cereal boxes or whatever.  Please note, the ziplock bags and cereal boxes were purchases made months ago – I don’t buy things like that anymore!

I am also trying to get into a habit of checking the packaging can be recycled before buying. Normally there will be recycling info on items.  If there isn’t, try get in touch with the producer and point this out to them. This doesn’t mean you have to be a whinge bag about it, just tell them that you love their product but you notice there is no recycling info and maybe they could look into that.

Food Lovers Market has a fairly good section where you can buy nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and some flours.  Our nearest one is quite far though, so need to group a trip with other errands and visits to friends.

Fruit & Vegetables

We live in Heidelberg, a very small town, and we don’t have a farmers market, so I decided to start my own veggie patch.  Absolutely amazing what you can grow in a teeny patch and in pots. I did discover an old man at a mini market (5 stalls), on a Saturday who sells a small selection of fruit and veg, so it is worth asking around your town.  Speak to your local butcher, health food store, local restaurant.  You never know who knows who.

I started my veggie patch a few months back when it was still winter, and we get pretty hectic frosts in Heidelberg, temperatures reaching -3deg! But I just protected my seedlings with very ugly frost cover and that worked.  We had spinach almost straight away.

At the moment we have ready to eat: spinach, cabbage, icicle radish, iceberg lettuce, butter lettuce, swiss chard, strawberry, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, coriander.

On it’s way and already appearing out the ground: carrots, brinjal/aubergine/egg plant, courgette, blue pumpkin, leeks, onions, mangetout, cucumber, assortment of tomatoes, basil, kale, peas, chillis, chard.

Soon to be planted: ginger (currently sending out it’s shoots), garlic, peppers, lettuce, beans, sweetcorn, purple sprouting broccoli, potatoes, granadilla, butternut. Will also continue to plant more of the above in stages so we have an ongoing supply.

We have small naartjie, lemon and lime trees, but they are not producing at the moment.

I plan on growing lots more tomatoes than we can eat right away, so that we can preserve them in different forms, then we won’t have to buy relishes, jams and canned tomatoes.


We are meat eaters, and so I am getting into a habit of buying from our local butcher and asking him to place my meat in my own containers or reusable bags. I do like to eat free range or organic meat though, and they don’t stock it.  So next best thing in our area is Woolworths, but then it is packaged. So if I do buy from Woolies, I try buy the massive packs and then freeze it. We have cut down on our meat consumption, but I will never give it up, I do just try make an effort at buying from quality suppliers. One day I will have a field with my own sheep, goats and cows then I will solve the ethical problem entirely!


We do eat quite a lot of dairy.  I am now buying my milk (jersey) from Hydeaway Farm in Heidelberg, and they supply it in reused 2 litre plastic cool drink bottles which they sterilise and it is only R20. This is actually cheaper than buying full cream milk from the grocery store where it ranges between R24 – R28.

I have started buying our cheese in larger blocks from Kostlich Delicatessen in Heidelberg, and she places it in my own container or in my Abeego reusable food wrap. Feta also comes in large clear reusable tubs which is produced by Hydeaway Farm.

I make our own yoghurt and kefir drink, so I don’t buy pobiotioc tablets.

Treats & Snacks

As a rule we don’t eat chips, biscuits and sweets.  We sometimes eat mixed nuts which I caramelise and spice, also biltong, popcorn.  I think I have just discovered how to make “dorritos” out of maize meal! Watch this space. I have just started a Sourdough Starter and so will start making my own sourdough crackers to go with hummus dips and pickles.


We never did buy bottled water anyway, but I did buy a Stefani water filter from Faithful to Nature. We no longer drink alcohol every night, but for weekends we have started buying beer by the crate/quart so that the bottles can be reused and there is no plastic packaging.  Our wine we buy by the glass bottle.  Tonic water comes in plastic bottle unfortunately, but we don’t often use this, like we used to! We don’t drink soft drinks or juices.  I sometimes make smoothies or use our juicer to make fruit/veg juice, but rarely. Nespresso machine – EPIC FAIL!

We do still have a lot more packaging than I would ideally like, but I am now taking things up a notch than before and instead of putting everything straight into recycling, seeing if I can reuse it somehow in or around the house or in the garden.


My cupboards are still fairly full of old purchases, sauces, pickles, spices, oils, beans, seeds, etc. We are still working our way through these, and so our purchases have mostly only been meat, veg and dairy for a long time now. I am really trying to thin down what we have in our cupboards.  Any future purchases I am trying to buy in glass or tin rather than plastic, not always possible, but I do my best. Some things are a teeny bit more expensive this way, but with the saving we make on not buying bread, biscuits, cool drinks, juices etc it doesn’t make a difference to us at all. I am spending less on groceries than ever before, especially with the veggie patch!

If anyone has any ideas or suggestions on things, I would love to hear them.  If you would like to try start living towards Zero Waste and want some advice, motivation and inspiration, drop me a line, or join Zero Waste Heroes group on Facebook.

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Talking absolute utter rubbish

If anyone has been in my presence for at least 5 minutes, they will know that I have become obsessed with waste.

On the 21 July I got rid of the bin in our kitchen and replaced it with a glass jar. If something can’t be reused, recycled or composted, it goes into our waste jar, and stares at you, a strong reminder of shopping choices.  We had a weekend away where we slipped up a bit, but otherwise I can honestly say thing have been pretty strict, just ask my poor husband.  Shame.

This is the system in our house at the moment.  It gets tweaked and improved as we go along …

So this is our new kitchen bin, anything in here would have ended up in landfill. Below is our Waste Jar with our waste from 21 July to 21 August.

Our recycling bin, with a reusable maize sack which we take to the SPCA. They raise funds by collecting recyclables, and this pays 2 salaries a month!

Tubs to collect coffee grinds, tea bags and food for the composter and wormerie. Used teabags infuse water to water seedlings.

Vegetable & fruit scraps go to our bran worms, which we feed to the birds in our garden. I know, I know ”It’s murder!?” I hear you scream.  Whatever, they love it and we love watching them love it.

Cooked food and bones go into the Bokashi Indoor Composter and vegetable peels go into the red wriggler wormerie.

Avocado and egg shells get dried and crunched as mulch. I just chuck them whole into pot plant or garden bed, then when they dry I crush them.

After tea bags have been reused they get placed in pot plants, hopefully help retain moisture.

Olive pips in the base of pot plants on the kitchen window sill, hopefully retain moisture. We eat a lot of olives.

I rescue the lint from my friends tumble drier, and I make fire lighters with it and old wax.

Recycling is not the answer, we need to think about reducing our purchases, refusing packaging where possible and avoid single use items like the plague!

As Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home puts it – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot – only in that order.

Once you get into it – it is just obvious and you don’t even notice you are doing it.  I very seldom go far without a cotton shopping bag, plastic ziploc bag, spoon, stainless straw and takeaway mug/jar in my handbag. I try remember to take my own tub for takeaway too. Real conversation starters at the takeaway counters and I don’t have to hunt around for a bin, if I have something recyclable, I just fold it up, put it in my bag and take it home.  Easy Smeasy.

Just ask your self, when you throw it away, where are you throwing it away to?