All the Zero Waste Fails in Botswana

IMG_2681So as you will know, since July 2015 I started to keep all our landfill waste in a jar. Why? So I could see exactly what my landfill waste is, rather than throwing it “away” and not thinking about it.  This system worked really well for us. Our large old rubbish bin is used purely for recyclables, and our food waste goes into our bokashi composter.  With thoughtful consuming, we didn’t have all that much waste really.

By the end of May 2016 the jar was pretty much full, and I was planning on starting a second one soon. For me,it is the most obvious way to have a neat, visual reminder every day, as well as a perfect example when explaining zero waste. It’s not for everyone, but I would highly recommend separating your landfill waste, recyclables and food waste for a week or two.  It is the perfect way to see how you can improve.

So come end of May we were preparing for a holiday in Botswana with friends (not into zero waste). I was in charge of organsing food and drink.  It was all going so well, I had baked rusks and other treats and precooked some snacks, managed to buy biltong, some meat, vegetables, fruit, cheese, olives and milk all package free.  But as I was walking through Woolies to get some eggs, I passed a shelf of bacon and it hit me; it was all going to fall apart on this holiday!  Bringing out the skottel for fried eggs for breakfast without bacon? I would be strung up!  So I bought a few packs of bacon, as I cannot find it at any butchers, bizarrely. First fail.

I had packed two tubs for compost and a bag for recyclables.  So efficient, I know.  Efficient? More like completely ineffective.  First night camping, before we even crossed the border, I emptied a large bag of recyclables, landfill waste and compost into a general bin. Gosh. Second fail.

So all is going well, absolutely flipping loving the holiday (will blog separately) and we were planning on stopping in Maun to stock up on vegetables and meat.  But it was fine, because I was totally prepared for this very moment.  I had my tubs to take to the butchery counter, and I also planned on buying whatever vegetables I could package free between the grocery store and the market on the streets in my bags.  But we changed our plan, stayed at extra night at an awesome camp, instead of overnighting in Maun, which meant we were on severe time constraints to be able to get to the next camp before dark.  So we turn up at an awesome butchery where they also have vegetables, eggs and everything we could need.  I waltzed in armed with my tubs and shopping bags to discover everything was in plastic and vacuum packed – except for the biltong – I won with the biltong!!! This is where you learn to pick your battles! So we bought an abundance of packaged meat and vegetables to see us through for the rest of the journey. Third fail.

So between the complete awesomeness of Botswana and zero willpower, I absolutely chowed down on packaged vegetables, ate packaged slabs of chocolate as if my life depended on it, and quite frankly didn’t give a damn.  I was in Botswana with awesome friends and elephants and lions?!

So not all went to plan. But lessons were learnt.  For better waste organisation system in future, but also just to remember to always just do the best with what you have, when you can, never give up and just keep trying. Maintaining a positive attitude and never giving up- Win!

So now we are back home and back in routine.  Need to figure out what to do with my full waste jar! Think I will definitely start another one, I find it really motivating.

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

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.


Bulk App – Helping us shop package free

I would love for you to please help me get this BulkApp from Zero Waste Home updated with bulk shopping locations across South Africa and even worldwide.

Please let me know if you know of any shops that sell any foods, cleaning products, toiletries and even pet foods in bulk. In other words; places that you can refill your own containers/bags from drums or dispensers.

Would really love your help on this. Even better, download the app and start shopping without packaging!

Here are some screenshots of what is listed.

The app apparently has some glitches for some users, mainly android, but Bea Johnson is currently working with some volunteers on a crowdfunding campaign to get it fixed. The more info they have on there the better, let’s all help keep it going?! 

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 Bloggers Network

I got a message from South African blogger, Cheryl, of No Harm, No Waste about the Zero Waste Bloggers Network, suggesting I join them.  I am so chuffed to find a group of like minded people to get tips from and inspiration. They added me to their clan yesterday. But … where are all the South Africans / Africans – there must be more of us!?

I am so bored of drooling over the awesome bulk food shops and products you can buy … if you live in America, or England, or Australia … maybe there are places in South Africa I have not yet discovered?

If you would like to be added to this network, get in touch with Inge at You can then be added to their Facebook group where everyone shares information and can ask for advice.

The Rogue Ginger also has a growing list of Zero Waste bloggers around the world. Let’s spread the word!

Here is a list of everyone part of the Zero Waste Bloggers Network as of 5 August 2015. Continue reading