Energy Diet

Waste (Mis)management!

This week we had to review our waste management efforts. We kind of patted ourselves on the back for recycling already , but judging by this photo taken last week, we clearly haven’t been bringing our A-game. I count three items that do not belong in this picture. You? Trust me, this behaviour has been stopped in its tracks. The trash police is on it and making daily inspections. (That would be me)

Our recycling sorting site is not even 2Km from here (1.25miles), so it is no hardship at all to take it there. I have been wondering about the black plastic bags we use to stuff everything in though. I think that it might be worth it to find an alternative to this. The paper pile could probably be made more compact by folding and flattening, and just put in a cardboard box already due for the pile. See energy diet: you give me new ideas as I am writing this!

I usually re-use one of the hundreds of plastic grocery bags to carry the glass and metal we collect in. Hopefully the pile of grocery bags will shrink soon and rapidly, following my vow of refusing them from now on. 

See exhibit A. I had to carry these items in the trolly and carry them by hand for not having my own bag handy. They rolled around a bit in the car’s trunk, but it served me right. Unfortunately the rest of the household (You know who you are) has not been as vigilant. The tally of existing plastic grocery bags in our house is currently 17. This will be counted again in two weeks time to measure the improvement.

In terms of clothes recycling, I’ve got a nifty little secret to share. I store my clothes that I don’t wear any more in a plastic bag until I have practically forgotten what was in it and then I pass it on to charity. It doesn’t hurt nearly as much and I get a bit of a kick out of decluttering and doing a good deed. Of course there are invariably some items that make it back into the cupboard, but for the most part we can be ruthlessly unsentimental in that department. We have a couple of bags that need the treatment again, so expect an update on that soon. (I do need some time to have another look at it though; I am only human after all!)

We have also made a few other adjustments in our house that is worth mentioning: We switched off the second geyser in our house (it serves the kitchen and the ‘kids’ bathroom) and reduced the amount of time that the pool pump is running to six and a half hours (from ten hours) as it we won’t be using the pool now during winter.

We are on our way to spend a few days in Cape Town. While we cannot ignore the carbon emissions we are adding to with our flights, we are hoping to continue with the energy diet while there. The next post will let you know how that went. We are hoping to inspire our hosts to start recycling!
Cecilia, Mark and Hannah


  1. Dave Chameides
    June 6, 2011, 7:30 am

    The most important thing i took away from your post is that you are starting to gain awareness of your footprint. To me this is the key to change. You are perfectly illustrating that by looking through the trash and watching what you consume/dispose of, you are starting to make changes. This was the first thing i found in my year of trash saving. I had no idea what i was doing, and once I realized it, I wasn’t comfortable with living that way anymore. As your post illustrates, the changes you can make aren’t impossible or rocket science, you had just never considered some of them before. Good on you for the introspection and turning that into positive action.

    Well done.


  2. Monia
    June 9, 2011, 6:44 am

    I use to say you don´t miss what you can´t see. If you pack the clothing away from view, it´s easier to forget about it and give it away. Well done! 🙂

  3. Chad Lipton
    June 10, 2011, 10:31 am

    Cecilia–Good work on focusing on the pool pump. You may have a good energy conservation opportunity there. I just made a more detailed comment in your post from last week. Take a look.