Over 42 million cubic metres of general waste is generated every year across South Africa. In addition, more than 5 million cubic metres of hazardous waste is produced every year. The average amount of waste generated per person per day in South Africa is 0.7 kg. This is closer to the average produced in developed countries (73 kg in the UK and 0.87 kg in Singapore), than to the average in developing countries such as 0.3 kg in Nepal. These are 1999 figures and from looking at other country’s stats – they tend to double every ten years. That puts us at almost 100 million tons.
I have challenged myself to reduce the waste we produce in our home – that is, the waste that would go into a landfill. The easiest way to do this is to recycle, reduce and reuse.
In a previous post I told you all about our rubbish problem. One of the comments on this post (thanks Shamballa) motivated me to do something about recycling in our town. I started asking around, and after a few dead ends, found out that Lisl (from my meditation classes) and a few others were in the final stages of arranging recycling in Hoedspruit. Around that time I also found out that our packhouse had 18 tons of cardboard waste that was going to be burned if we could not find some way to get it recycled. Thanks to Lisl and Nico, we managed to get most of it to Nico’s recycling center. We still have a few more loads to go but I am very grateful that it was not burned.
One of our local supermarkets, the Spar, has kindly volunteered to have recycling bins on their premises. Now I have a place to go to dump all the glass bottles that were left on my property by the previous owners.
I have been wracking my brains trying to find a convincing reason to motivate others to recycle and I have not got very far so all I can really tell you about is why I do it. They sound rather cliché I’m afraid……
- I love our beautiful planet and I don’t like the sight of landfills.
- The sad and confused seagulls one sees at dumps hundreds and hundreds of kilometers away from the beautiful coastline where they belong.
- Landfills embarrass me for some reason – I think it’s the visibility of what a wasteful society we have become – everything is instant – you want it, you buy it, you use it – then you toss it – without a thought to what resources it took to make it and what will happen to it after you toss it into the bin.
- Plastic is made from oil. Oil is a limited resource. What will happen when there is little to no oil left and we can not afford it?
- If I don’t start to do something who will? This is not a governmental problem – it’s our problem, and can only be solved by individuals.
So this is what I am doing and plan to do in the future:
- Produce as much of my own food and consumables as possible.
- Make food from scratch instead of buying pre-cooked and packaged meals.
- Reuse what I used to throw away.
- Avoid buying anything in plastic and tins (as far as possible) and if I do, I must find a use for the container.
- Recycle what I can not use.
- Make compost.
Already we have been able to drastically reduce our weekly bin bags and we are down to less than one bag a week.
If you are not already reusing, recycling and reducing, I hope this post at least makes you think about it.
If you’re not part of the solution you’re still part of the problem – Yvon Chouinard