Zero Waste Week South Africa

zero wast week south africa

  1. Introducing Zero Waste

Attempting to live a Zero Waste lifestyle is much easier than you might think. Zero Waste entails reducing your waste as much as possible, such as food packaging, single use cutlery and cups etc. It also means reusing items rather than just throwing them “away’, when someone else might be able to get another use out of them. Why do we need to do this?  Because our landfill sites are filling up too quickly, and sadly, many items that are in fact recyclable are still ending up in landfill, and worse, our oceans. The greatest thing about starting to make a few easy changes to your lifestyle, you inevitably end up healthier, you can save money and you value your food so much more.

Before making a purchase ask yourself; “Where will this go when I am finished with it?”

Some quick ideas to get you started:

Use a bokashi composter to compost all your food waste including meat & dairy

Don’t use plastic shopping bags, take away cups etc – take your own.

Take your own reusable containers to the butchery

Don’t buy bottled water

Reuse your glass jars and bottles

Lastly, for the ladies; buy a menstrual cup.  It will change your life.

  1. Simple tips people could do to reuse things.

Take your own reusable bags to the shops, keep a small one folded up in your handbag

Carry a stainless steel straw and cup in your handbag

Reuse glass food jars for storing small items, or filling them up in the Healthy nibbles section at Food Lovers Market

Reuse large Tupperware and/or glass jars to buy your meat, fish or cheese at the counters.

Fill your own bottle with water before you go anywhere
Reuse food leftovers as ingredients for another meal

If you have unwanted items, take them to a charity shop or offer on local Facebook groups so someone else can reuse them
Use old envelopes to write your shopping list on, or use your phone, then you can’t leave the list at home!
Use washable cloths instead of paper kitchen roll

Reuse an old sheet to make reusable wet wipes
Use old plastic food containers, or glass jars (without a shoulder) for storing food in the freezer
Use old yogurt pots or fruit punnets for sowing seeds

  1. How people in South Africa can recycle things from the kerbside at home.

Unfortunately many municipalities do not offer kerbside collection of recyclables. If you are unsure then check with your local municipality or visit the MyWaste website and search for kerbside collectors in your area.

There is a growing network of individuals collecting recyclables to be taken to Buy Back centres.  If your municipality does not offer kerbside collection of recyclables, it might be worth placing all your recyclables in a clear bag or box, and place next to your black bin bags. This will help these individuals who will search through the bin bags early in the morning before the truck comes.  They are trying to make an honest living, so why not help them by saving them having to dig through dirty rubbish.

We must always rinse our recyclables.  If they are dirty this actually decreases their value at the recycling centres.

Some charities and organisations have started recycling projects to raise funds.  Our local SPCA accepts recyclables which they then sort to raise much needed funds.  Look out for a project in your area or start your own.

  1. How people in South Africa can recycle things when out and about.

Some shopping centres now have separate recycling bins.  If you are looking for a place to take a lot of recycling to then have a look on My Waste, you can search for buy back centres and drop off locations in your area.  You can also search this comprehensive list from Faithful to Nature.

Information on basic recycling logos in your country and how people can recycle those items.

Remade Recycling has produced an informative booklet about recycling in South Africa, including information on what can and can’t be recycled and the meanings of the different symbols.

remade on site

Click here to download pdf

Here are some Do’s & Don’t from Remade Recycling


Click here to download pdf





  1. Links for more information.

Turning the Tide.

Plight of Plastic.

Remade Recycling.

  1. More hints and tips.

Aside from the obvious step of reducing what we purchase, and avoiding single use packaging, we all need to take great leaping steps towards recycling! This is a great opportunity for people to generate an income, help these people by leaving your CLEAN recyclables out for them. Start a project with your school or local charity to raise much needed funds.

When buying your fruit and vegetables, avoid those thin plastic bags.  Place the sticker directly on the item, or weigh them in a thin reusable bag.  You can make these out of netting or muslin cloth. Take your own jars and containers to Food Lovers Market and buy all your nuts seeds, dried fruits (and sweets if you must) in bulk.

I always take a reusable cup and stainless steel straw with me in my handbag so I never need to use disposable items.

Rethink what you use.  When getting a takeaway, decline all the disposable items such as napkins (use your own), plastic knives and forks, sachets etc. I even take my own reusable container.

When we rethink our purchases and the packaging, we inevitably cut out a lot of unhealthy food.  All process food is packaged. We buy very, very little packaged food, and as a result have a much healthier lifestyle.

Read my article as featured in Platteland magazine for some more tips.