Invest in reusable containers

Instead of keeping your leftovers in plastic wrapping that cannot be reused, invest in some fun, brightly coloured containers for the fridge. You will cut down on the amount of plastic you use, and you can keep your goods fresher for longer. If you want to be even more environmentally friendly, reuse yogurt containers and margarine tubs as lunch boxes and storage containers. Old jam jars make excellent storage containers for coffee, sugar and grains. If they smell a bit musty, fll them with water and a teaspoon of bicarb and leave them to soak overnight – this will remove any lingering odours.

Recycle cards and wrapping paper

As you unwrap your gifts, fold up the used wrapping paper, ribbon and gift bags and keep them in a carrier bag for wrapping another gift. Used cards can be cut up and used for gift tags, or cut out and stuck down on a folded piece of recycled card and used again. In this way you avoid buying expensive cards, you save on paper, and you have an excuse to get creative.

Make your own cleaning ‘lappies’

For cheap cleaning rags, cut up old t-shirts and keep them handy. This avoids the use of paper towels (thus saving trees), and enables you to reincarnate a favourite T-shirt into something useful. Old (clean) socks  are  excellent  for polishing and dusting as they ft right over your hand. Old toothbrushes are always handy for cleaning right into the corners.

Buy second-hand and antique furniture

One way to ensure that your home has an original look and feel is to decorate it with carefully chosen pieces of second-hand or antique furniture and ornaments. Second- hand shopping and antique hunting can be quite exciting and often very interesting in fnding out the history of an old piece.

Donate anything you don’t need to charity

You can contribute to a more sustainable society by donating clothes, furniture and ornaments to charity. Find an under- resourced old age home, orphanage, homeless shelter or hospice in your area, and chat to them about what their greatest needs are. Then send out an email to friends and family and encourage them to donate their extra possessions as well.

Organise a clothing swap

You can have fun, and reduce the amount of clothing that is produced and discarded, by organizing a clothing swap with a group of friends. Get everyone to bring clothes that they are a little bored with, and then give them the chance to swap them for something ‘new’ and exciting. This helps to satisfy the needs of even the most hardened shopaholic.

Recycle your office carpet

Avoid replacing your existing office carpeting unnecessarily as this is a waste of resources. If you really cannot stand the existing carpet (there are some pretty hideous ones out there) then at least donate your old carpet to a charitable home or organisation that will beneft from it. When you do replace your existing carpets, look at the range that are made from natural and renewable fbres, such as hemp, coir, jute or sisal.

Recycle your oil

The Rose Foundation manages the environmentally acceptable collection, storage and recycling of used lubricating oil in South Africa. All available used oil and related waste are collected and recycled in an environmentally responsible manner. Rose is listed in the Directory in the Enviropaedia- give them a call to locate your nearest drop-off centre.

Give your old possessions new life

With a bit of sandpaper, paint, varnish and effort, many old and scruffy looking pieces of furniture can be revived and transformed into something useful and attractive.

Recycle your E-waste

E-waste includes televisions, computers and cell phones. If these products end up in landflls, they can leak seriously hazardous chemicals into the environment. Ask the manufacturers if they run a recycling program for their products and, if they don’t, challenge them to start take-back projects to recycle their own products responsibly. When upgrading, donate your old computer equipment to schools or charities. Keeping up with the newest, fastest technology may be important to you but there are people out there who have limited access to computers, and would really beneft from having your old equipment.