Tips for Living Sustainably

From your home to land-fill or sea-fill . . . or recycle?

Many everyday home items can be recycled. Bear in mind, though, that the recycling process can use resources such as water and electricity. The best thing to do is to avoid buying plastic containers and bottles and food that is wrapped in loads of packaging. Say ‘no’ to plastic shopping bags and complain to the store manager about excessive packaging.

While some municipalities offer recycling bins in their home refuse removal service, most don’t. In this instance, your items should be taken to your local municipality recycle site every few weeks. 

The following everyday home items can be recycled:

In the kitchen:
Fizzy drink, squash, fruit juice and mineral water bottles
Milk bottles
Fabric softener bottles
Cleaning product bottles
Microwave-ready and oven-ready food containers
Margarine containers
Fruit and vege punnets
Plastic wrapping
Glass containers
Paper packaging

In the bathroom:
Shampoo and conditioner bottles
Cosmetic jars and bottles
Toothpaste tubes
Glass containers
Paper packaging

In the bedroom:
Magazines, books and newspapers

In the study:
Computers (but these can be donated to charities, schools and orphanages)
Ink cartridges (but these can be refilled with ink)
Light bulbs

Some practical Electricity Saving Tips – from Naeem Asvat, SAICA

Energy efficiency starts with good building design. Saving energy means examining a building closely and taking small steps to correct small things that may be wrong. These small steps have a cumulative effect and all play their part in saving on those electricity bills. For example:

  • Make sure the doors between air conditioned and "un-air conditioned" spaces are closed at all times. The use of automatic doors, self-closing doors and air curtains should also be investigated.
  • Seal cracks and broken windows that allow air conditioned air to escape.
  • Install blinds and awnings to reduce the amount of sunlight penetrating rooms through windows in summer. By opening them in winter, more heat is allowed in, reducing the need for heating.
  • In areas that have high levels of natural light, consider switching off electric lights.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps. Where intense lighting is not needed replace bulbs with low-energy ones.
  • Check airflow through the building. If it is not efficient it will require the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to work harder to achieve desired temperatures.
  • Use wall and ceiling insulation to reduce heat loss and consider the installation of double glazed windows. (It must be mentioned though that double glazing is expensive to install.)

Tips for your home - from Hugh Tyrrell

Business greening and marketing coaching -  info@greenedge.co.za

Water -
shower instead of bath and fit a low-flow shower head. This reduces the amount of water needed to wash and lowers energy use because less water needs to be heated. Run a hose from the bath or shower outlet onto the shrubs and flowerbeds, or install a greywater system.

Energy -
if you haven't put in a solar water geyser yet, install a geyser timer to automatically switch your geyser on and off. This minimises electricity use while ensuring hot water when you need it. And until you get one, do it manually. Switch geyser off just before you go to work and then on again as soon as you get home. No loss of hot water, a significant saving in energy (and cash).

Food/diet -
buy local, and eat fresh and seasonal. Food choices are a major determinant of our eco-footprint. To reduce 'food miles' (the distance food has to travel to get to us) and their carbon emissions, buy food grown and processed as close as possible to home. Eat fresh food rather than frozen or cooked - both of which use energy -and enjoy what's in season. All these are healthier choices too.

Recycle waste -
use old beer or milk crates to hold your glass, plastic and paper. Stack on top of each other to reduce space, and make carrying to the recycling depot easier. If you have a garden, compost all food trimmings, peelings and left-overs and use the compost so made for a veg garden. If you live in a flat or complex, learn how to manage worm-farm bins.

Cleaning -
choose phosphate-free washing powder as this minimizes harm to water courses. And lower the temperature setting on your washing machine - 40 C is sufficient. Use floor and furniture cleaners with fewest artificial chemical components, so reducing potentially toxic chemicals in your home.

Clothes & textiles -
buy classic styles and keep them for longer. Repair rather than throw out. Second-hand clothing sales amongst friends and acquaintances is a great way to stay on touch and pick up bargains.

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