Energy Diet

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Waste Disposal and Reduction was officially the area that I’ve scored the least in when I started this diet. Waste Disposal for many South Africans is as simple as putting it all in one

A common sight on our pavements when weekly collections are done

wheelie bin and let the municipal rubbish removal service take care of the rest. Why would I want to separate the cardboard from plastic, glass from paper, etc., when it will end up on the same place? That’s the general consensus from many people I’ve spoken to over the years. There is, however, an unofficial problem in many middle and upper class residential areas, where beggars and hobos dig in our dustbins looking for plastic bottles and paper. These two commodities are a source of income for them, even though they only get a loaf of bread and cigarettes for their efforts.

Having worked for a multinational company between 2002 and 2010, and whose headquarters are in Europe, I know that emphasis on reduce, recycle and reuse is part of their everyday life. However, the system in my own country doesn’t really work, because the rules aren’t enforced – at least not on the individual. The only waste regulated and enforced is sanitary, medical and hazardous wastes which has to be incinerated or disposed of in controlled landfill sites, owned by accredited waste disposal companies. So I guess we aren’t that bad after all.

A number of companies in South Africa encourage their staff to practice segregation of waste at home, by allowing them to bring plastic, paper, aluminum cans, etc., to work and dispose of it in their formal waste systems. Two of the big chain supermarkets where I shop have recycling bins outside their stores where we can dump old incandescent and used CFL globes.

Filing is one of my pet-hates, so changing to paperless environment suited me perfectly. Even though I have been receive electronic statements for most of my bills, some service providers still send out printed copies despite my efforts to stop them from doing so. The common reply from many of them is “Eish!

In many of the gardening shows on TV, a home compost system is encouraged, but I only know of one family that has a compost heap that happens to be my dad’s. He’s lucky in that he has a garden four times the size of mine, so space is not an issue for him like it is for me, but I’ll get there, one day. As my daughter gets to an age where I can start teaching her to ride a bicycle, swing a golf club, or help plant flowers then I believe it will be time to teach her about the environment and how we need to care for it if we want to enjoy it in the future.

As far as my scorecard goes, a paperless environment and recycling old clothes were the items I managed to tick off. Getting rid of those plastic shopping packets is definitely something I will work on for the rest of this year, and a compost bin will start within the next few months.