Best of Eco and Recycling Tips!

Use public transport!

If you are actually able to do so without endangering life and limb. Some forms of public transport, in places that we know and love, do not promote longevity. Welly transport is generally safe and clean, but a bit unreliable at the moment as we are short of bus drivers (career opportunity opening up there, except I can’t even parallel park our own car.) Our teenage sons are pro users and get themselves all over the place.

Make bricks from wee!

Yes, that is actually possible. Some enterprising South African students invented it.

 Of course, those of us who regularly clean toilets are not surprised by this. What we ARE surprised by, is how hard it is to keep a toilet clean. To those fortunate beings who have no idea what I am talking about, I make a suggestion – please buy your local toilet technician a bar of chocolate. They need it. Thank you.

Wee bricks won’t help us in NZ though, as we use wood that knows how to move when it quakes. Presumably the person who wrote ‘The Three Little Pigs’ did not live in an earthquake zone? Otherwise, it would have been the brick-using pig that won the Darwin award.

Make bricks from coke bottles or cans stuffed with single use plastic!

This has been done by friends in Botswana to make a chicken coup (true fact). And some houses have been made using tins and, the African building staple, mud.

Buy handbags from Plasticity!

A delightful young creative and her Mum set up a company in SA called Plasticity, (in Graaff-Reinet) making gorgeous handbags from recycled plastics.

There is a Chinese one too, ask Google.

Eat Vegetarian meals!

Good luck with that if you are feeding teenage males. I got a long lecture from my eldest about how we need to save the planet by eating less meat. Awesome, I said, I’ll do it, I said. Lo and behold, dinner time came and the three males picked disconsolately through their food, hoping for a glimpse of meat. After dinner, they foraged hungrily through the fridge, looking for some real food. I have subsequently found some more acceptable vegetarian offerings that are deemed adequate, and one that they actually (gasp) ask for! In some circles in SA, if you go to a braai (barbeque), you have a main consisting of red meat and a salad consisting of chicken. Some of you are now saying “Yes! How can I get me an invitation to that braai?”

Eat Insects!

I read a Nat Geo article on burgers made from crickets, very sustainable protein. But I don’t know about the whole insect thing… I like crickets and all, but I like them chirping in the garden, not under a slice of tomato in a bun. Snails? “They are wonderful with garlic butter,” they say. Quite frankly, you could probably manage to eat a bicycle tyre if you added enough garlic butter to it, but that doesn’t mean I am going to try to.

I never did fancy eating Mopane worms or flying ants either, which are local delicacies in Zimbabwe and Botswana. I kind of agree with Terry Pratchett on this one: “Any seasoned traveller soon learns to avoid anything wished on them as a ‘regional speciality’, because all the term means is that the dish is so unpleasant that people living elsewhere will bite off their own legs rather than eat it.” ‘Have the macerated pig noses stuffed with cabbage, it’s a ‘regional specialty.’’

In Zimbabwe it’s “have the live flying ants, they taste like peanut butter,” while in Botswana, it’s “help yourself to the (crunchy, dried) mopane caterpillars, they are very good this year.”

Nope. I’m not very hungry, thanks. You can have mine.


Buy from your local, free of packaging, bulk store!

I must confess that I have not done this yet, mainly because I have a feeling that it will be very expensive, and also because I feel nervous going to places where I may not know what to do (in those situations, I feel like a rather anxious five-year-old). But now that I have written to you, I will have to screw my courage to the sticking point, and try… I’ll let you know the outcome (eventually).

In some places in Africa, your local bulk foods store is the market, where you can browse over piles of mangos, bowls of chickpeas, or buy yourself a live chicken, with its legs carefully tied together with string, to enable you to hang it over the handlebars of your bicycle as you ride home. Strangely, the chicken does not seem to mind this. Presumably some way along the process towards dinner, it does start to mind. If I had to kill my own meat, I would become an instant vegetarian. That is my suggested method to convert half the world to vegetarianism. Instant benefit to the planet.

Reuse tea bags!

I do this anyway because I like weak tea. Back in the Victorian era, when tea was scarce, and more expensive, apparently the thing to do was to carefully save (and dry?) one’s used tea leaves to send to the missionaries abroad. How delightful for them.

Use flattened cereal boxes as files!

Grandma’s letters are filed in Special K, and the Tax returns are filed in Froot Loops.

Worm Farm P.S.

There are some lavish power users out there, and some puzzled under users (give us time).