Pollution and waste is a growing problem in South Africa, as it is in many other countries. South Africa has the added problems of illegal dumping sites, inadequate recycling facilities and over-zealous packaging of shop-bought items.
The question is, what can we do to eliminate some of this waste and give a good example to our children? Most mothers do not have the time to spend visiting farmers’ markets and are forced to buy the majority of their food pre-made, as they are juggling work and the responsibilities of growing families.
Herewith a list of simple things we can do to help with the war on waste:
- Work out a weekly menu. From this you can work out exactly what you need to buy each week to feed your family. This reduces the chances of food going off before it is eaten, sparing you the necessity of buying more, including that item’s packaging. An added benefit to this is that you can save a bit of money
- If there is a recycling initiative in your area, make full use of it. Often schools have recycling depots. Perhaps the school your children attend has something in place?
- Expiry dates are guidelines only. Just because the packaging on something says the food has expired, it does not necessarily mean it is bad to eat. Use your senses to tell if food is still okay. Sight – does it have mould or has it turned a strange colour? Smell – rotten food usually has a bad smell. Taste – a last resort if you are still not sure! If the food is still okay, eat it up! Using up this food will save you from having to buy fresh before it is necessary for you to do so
- Use those leftovers and exercise your creativity in the kitchen! Who knows, you may even come up with a new family favourite.
- If you have your own garden space, consider allocating a small section of it for composting vegetable scraps
- Look for products that match your views on waste. Perhaps a different brand of something you use often has better/minimal packaging
- Buy fruit and vegetables from farmers markets when you have the opportunity, even if it is not very often
- Re-use ice-cream and large yoghurt containers for storing small toys, stationery items, beads, dry food, and anything else you can think of. Using these containers instead of buying new plastic containers at the supermarket will also save you money
- If possible, buy staples like milk, honey and olive oil on tap
- Support your local bakery and buy unpackaged bread items (use your own bags). It will be much tastier than mass-produced baked items too!
- Use your own packets when shopping for loose vegetables (and yes, you do get funny looks from the weighing-staff!)
- Bonus Points: In the coffee-world, there is a bring-your-own-cup movement, with some coffee shops even offering a discount if you use your own container for your favourite beverage rather than the “disposable” cups they provide.
- As per the picture below, Sinchies have made available some awesome reusable food pouches for yoghurt, baby food, smoothies, etc, and make your own, instead of relying on store-bought options.