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.







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.


A Day Trip with Door of Hope Volunteers

We discovered Door of Hope a  year or more ago, when we went to Riverside Community Church. We have met some amazing people who are involved with this organisation, one of which is now a very special friend of ours; Marcelle.

Marcelle is part of a small group we used to visit and through her we have met some of the volunteers that come from around the world to volunteer their time, love and enthusiasm to the babies and toddlers at Door of Hope in Johannesburg.

Whilst chatting to Amanda, (a young lady from Georgia, who has volunteered two years to Door of Hope!), I thought it would be nice for the volunteers to be able to see more of South Africa seen as they have come all this way! I know, I know, they have come to look after babies at Door of Hope not travel, but South Africa is so awesome – I think they need to experience a bit of it too and have a break from their hard work on their day off!

So Erik and I decided to volunteer our time in helping these volunteers experience a little bit of South Africa in their time here, when we can.  The volunteers time is short though as they are very busy at the baby houses, but we managed to squeeze in a day trip to Pilanesberg Game Reserve with two volunteers, Hannah from Ohio and Ruth from Aberdeen.  We hope to be able to do this again for future volunteers.

We grew up visiting the game reserve, and it is so wonderful to see people experiencing this for the first time! So this is really a win win situation; Erik & I get to do what we love, we get to meet new people and hear how God lead them to Door of Hope, the volunteers get to experience the beauty of South Africa. I think these volunteers are absolutely inspiring and I love hearing their stories.

On the list were lion and elephant; unfortunately we only saw the latter. It was a surprisingly quiet day for game viewing really, but that just teaches us to look for the beauty in other things such as the bird life and landscapes.

Unfortunately we didn’t get many pics – I always forget because I am so busy enjoying looking! We also saw elephant, giraffe, impala, zebra, springbok, wildebeest, warthog, waterbuck, crocodile and hippo.

Really looking forward to doing this again.  Other ideas on the list are Cradle of Humankind, Mountain Sanctuary, Golden Gate and when the weather warms up maybe camping at our place at the Vaal. Any other ideas suitable for a day trip or overnight?

Menstrual Cup Outreach at The Khaya Centre

After much fundraising online and through Riverside Community Church, we managed to raise R22145 to buy menstrual cups from MyOwnCup, for underprivileged young girls and women.

Thank you to everyone, from around the world, who supported the project with donations and/or raising awareness by spreading the news via social media.

The BranchOut Team at Riverside connected me with The Khaya Centre in LeHae. The Khaya Centre is an organisation made up of a group of amazingly renovated, colourful shipping containers, and an equally amazing group of giving people. They provide a safe environment for children, youth and adults to learn, interact and play.

There is a children’s creche, library and computer centre which supports children within the LeHae community. They feed 1100 people a day, (yes that figure is correct!) and have their own bakery, housed in a shipping container, where they produce just over 100 loaves of bread a day. They have so many projects that are run from their centre. I was completely blown away, not just by work they are doing within their community, but by their passion for what they do.

Sara, from BranchOut and I met Cara of MyOwnCup at the Khaya Centre on the 7th May to meet the groups of women, so Cara could offer the training on the use of the menstrual cups.

Cara is passionate about these outreach projects, and it really shows in her enthusiasm whilst she is training the groups. She has such a fun, down to earth and genuine approach which makes it easy for women of all walks of life to feel comfortable to open up and learn together.

Here is a lovely little video that Cara took at the end of their last training session.

As I have mentioned before, this is something I would like to continue supporting.  I am in the process of sorting out the finer details to make it easier for people to donate and support the project. If anyone is interested in starting a  project in their area, but maybe aren’t too sure how to go about it, then please do get in touch with me and I can possibly help.  I would love to see more of these projects in place across the country.

Menstrual Cups – complete life changer

I am just going to jump straight into what is going to be a pretty brief blog post. The punchline – stop using tampons or pads and start using a menstrual cup.

I have been using a menstrual cup for years.  When I was living in England, I bought a MoonCup, and the first 3 cycles were slightly awkward whilst I got used to the inserting, removal, and generally just “being” with a silicone cup … there.

I will NEVER go back. Two examples of many I can give you where the menstrual cup has been invaluable.  Because you naturally get your period when you go on holiday.

One weekend at our new small holding, without running water or flushing toilet and a serious ration of water because I forgot to pack enough. Menstrual cup – no problem.

Holiday at Mabibi with over 100 steps down to the beach from our campsite. Inserted cup in the morning, removed in the evening on our return.  Up and down those steps every 3-4 hours with a tampon; no thanks.

There are a few rather odd, in my opinion, reviews from women who mention the words gross and blood bath. Seriously, we are grown woman, it is bodily fluid, get a grip and move on.

I would choose using and emptying a menstrual cup, which will last me many many years, over having a tampon, (which unless you buy organic) has been made with cotton sprayed with pesticides and has potential to cause TSS (not a myth – this actually happens), and then flushing these millions of tampons down a toilet, or putting them in a bin for them to sit festering in landfill or better yet … wait for it … the sea.  Nice.

mooncupThere are a gazillion different options out there, I personally have the Mooncup, probably because it was the most advertised one I saw all those years ago. Which was probably around 2009, and it is still perfect.  For those in South Africa, there is the MyOwnCup which is produced locally.

UPDATE OCTOBER 2016: You can now buy the MyOwnCup directly from me here in South Africa! I love it because it is made locally and Cara does outreach workshops where underprivileged girls can learn more about their monthly cycle and how to use a menstrual cup.sku5072-myown-cup-large



Girls Fund – Helping underprivileged girls in Johannesburg South

A while ago, I started raising funds to buy menstrual cups from MyownCup Menstrual Cup.  The idea was for them to go to a school in Eikenhof in Johannesburg South, but unfortunately this did not work out. Riverside Community Church was already on board helping raise funds with their outreach team, Branch Out, and so they contacted the Khaya Centre who were very keen. We are in the process of finalising a date where Branch Out and MyOwnCup can meet with all the girls at the Khaya Centre and offer the training and guidance and support needed. Very exciting!

Some of you may have seen my previous post about it, well here is a repeated and updated version!  Please do help spread the word about this, where ever you are in the world.

Imagine being an underprivileged young woman living in South Africa, without always having access to water and or electricity, and not being able to afford food, let alone tampons or even san pads.

Imagine not being able to go to school because you are having your period and you don’t have san pads. Many girls miss up to 50 days of school per year! Some use rags as san pads … we won’t even go there on the hygiene issues, not to mention the embarrassment they must suffer.

For most of us, our biggest concern at this time of the month is what comfort food we need and convincing the other half to give us a foot massage. My heart goes out to these girls.

A menstrual cup is made from medical grade silicone, and once inserted can be kept in place for up to 12 hours safely. These have been used for many, many years all over the world by woman of all backgrounds.  They are becoming a popular solution in rural, underprivileged areas due to the financial savings, health factors, as well as the obvious environmental issues! I have used a menstrual cup for years and it is life changing!

jar and cup (Large)

So far we have raised just over R21475. Initially I had a JustGiving crowdfunder to try kickstart things, and that raised £160. Just as that ended we had lots more interest and funds coming in directly and then Riverside starting facilitating the receiving of funds for me.

This is going to be an ongoing project for me and I will be meeting with Cara of MyOwnCup soon to finalise getting this officially set up to make it easier for people to donate and fundraise for those in need in their areas.  Watch this space!

If you would like to order a MyOwnCup Menstrual Cup for yourself, you can do so from Faithful to Nature (click the link).  This is an affiliate link, and all money raised from this will go directly to the Girls Fund.

If you would like any more information, please feel free to get in touch with me on 079 355 3666 or mrscolleenblack@gmail.com.

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.