The WWF SA estimates that 10 million tons of food goes to waste in South Africa each year.

However this amount can be reduced if we all take responsibility and try our best to live waste free. Here just a few things that you can do to live a zero waste lifestyle in South Africa.

READ MORE: View an award-winning sustainable home in Durban

Food Waste

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Food production involves the use of energy and fresh water, among other resources. The more we buy, the more these resources are used and the less we consume, the more we throw away. Reduce your food waste to live a zero waste lifestyle. As Farmer’s Weekly puts it, “The energy wasted every year in South Africa to produce food that is never consumed could power the City of Johannesburg for roughly 16 weeks.”’

READ MORE: Take up organic gardening

To prevent it:

  • Plan your shop

Making a shopping list is helpful as it prevents you from buying unnecessary items. Be realistic about your consumption patterns, don’t buy a 2kg bag of potatoes if you live alone or have a small family, no matter how great that deal is. Purchase only what you need.

  • Use up everything

When you’re shopping, keep future meals in mind. This ensures that everything gets eaten. Pickle, preserve or freeze your food to make it last longer. If it starts to look worse for wear, find other uses for it. For example, compost, topical uses like face masks and using lemons to make cleaning products.

  • Donate it

If you know that the food in your pantry or fridge will not be eaten, give it to the nearest feeding scheme. You can also give to those in need at traffic lights or the homeless.

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Material Waste

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Eco-campaigns are constantly encouraging us to reduce, reuse and recycle. However, not enough steps are being taken to prevent material waste. Just last year it was announced that our country is one of the biggest culprits of marine plastic pollution.

To prevent it:

  • Recycle

Divide your waste in to recyclable and non-recyclable goods. Find the nearest recycling depot and dispose of it appropriately.

  • Upcycle

Instead of throwing things away, turn them in to something useful.

Try one of these projects

  • Avoid fast food

Rather than ordering a takeaway, plan your day so that you can cook your meal at home or sit down and eat at a restaurant. This means less polystyrene and plastic take-away boxes.

Use things more than once

Buying these products can help save the environment, as well as money.

  • Coffee cups / flasks
  • Metal straws
  • BPA-free water bottles
  • Glassware
  • Canvas shopping bags

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Consumer responsibility

live a zero waste lifestyle south africa

These are just a few stores where you can find sustainable or organic products:

  • Toiletries and cleaning products

Lush, The Body Shop, Faithful to Nature

  • Groceries

Jackson’s Real Food Eatery, Food Lover’s Market, Nude Foods (Cape Town), The Green Grocer (Johannesburg) and your local organic food market

  • Restaurants

Kauai, Seattle Coffee Co., Woolworths Café, Dear Me (Cape Town), Earth Mother Organic (Durban), Fermier (Pretoria)

READ MORE: 10 ways to green your garden

Spread the word

The best way to save the environment, is by doing it together. Suggest eco-friendly products and places to friends, family and neighbours. Show them the steps you’re taking, and hopefully they’ll follow your example.