The “R’s”… Richard’s way

Richard Quinnell

Daily more and more people are realising that to maintain a sustainable Mother Earth for future generations, our children and grandchildren, recycling of paper, plastics , metals, biodegradables (garden waste and kitchen scraps), i.e. all items and products for which we have no further use is an important part of our daily family and work lives.

Many of us have heard of the three “R’s” namely: REFUSE, REUSE and RECYCLE

More than 80% plus scientists are in agreement that the man’s use of gas, oil and coal are starting to affect the mean global temperatures. We, therefore, need to drastically rethink our own personal and family carbon footprint impact with regards to the use of certain materials as well as the products from which they are made. Thus step 1 should be REFUSE. For example cell phones; do we need the bi-annually upgrade when the present phone is just fine? What happens to the old phone? Passed on to the maid, gardener, sibling or just tossed into a drawer and forgotten until spring clean time where it gets thrown out with other refuse? We need to consume less!

When friends and family decide to move from one house to another for whatever reason we are often recipients of unwanted goods and do not have the heart to say no. Some items may be of use to us or others but as we get older we need less and should refuse unwanted goods which will become a problem later.

Whether we cannot refuse or have our own little-used goods, before we deposit it in the refuse bin REUSE should be considered. We all have initiative and with a little effort can put potential refuse items to good use. For example, glass bottles with seal lids can be reused for preserving excess home-grown fruit and vegetables. Plastic containers such as 1litre ice cream tubs make excellent stack type storage containers for foodstuffs, needlework and handyman products.

If we have items or goods that cannot be reused by us or other people our next option is to then RECYCLE the unwanted items. Most of us in Sabie practice recycling and are aware there are several depots where goods for recycling can be dropped off. At this point, we should be striving to a zero waste lifestyle.

A lady named Bea Johnson (she has been giving talks in US of A and Europe) along with her husband and two children have reduced their refuse/waste to very close to zero. They are by no means unique. Every item is carefully considered before purchase and disposal. During her experience, she added two more R’s to the above 3, namely: REDUCE and ROT. REDUCE is broad and is tied to several issues. For instance, do we need 3 full sets of garden furniture or 12 suits of clothes? By being rational/frugal and realising what is acceptable enough we contribute towards reducing the carbon footprint.

ROT is simply all bio-degradable items within our property and we keep it on the property and turn it into compost. It is surprising at the number of families doing compost in Sabie but also the huge amount of garden waste placed weekly outside the garden gate to become the municipality’s problem

To the 5 R’s above I would like to add one more namely REDESIGN. We are in the New Year and with the present government and municipalities who are struggling to maintain an acceptable standard of service, delivery time is perhaps ripe for us to redesign certain aspects of our daily practices and habits. Through neighbourly interaction, we can stimulate ourselves and initiate new ideas around recycling and waste reduction. Social media is a powerful tool whereby we can involve our family members to create in reducing our contribution to climate change.

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