What does a waste-conscious home look like?

by Berenice Westmore November 21, 2022 5 min read

We have all heard about the benefits of separating our waste for recycling* - but are you curious on knowing what a truly waste-conscious home looks like? Here are some of Postwink’s recommendations if you’d like to send less to landfill and be an example to others.

Your Kitchen

Your kitchen generates the most waste in the home – hence you can really make an impact by managing your kitchen first.

Of course, a stylish recycling bin is of upmost importance (in our biased opinion). To separate your recycling from your “general waste”, you could use two separate bins from your local retailer and just label them accordingly - or you could invest in a sophisticated compartmentalised recycling bin – such as asensor-touchless stainless steel unit. A kitchen recycling bin should help separate your dry recyclables (glass, plastic, cans, paper & cardboard) from your contaminated packaging, cling wrap, wrappers and other non-recyclables. Once full, store your bags full of recycling in your own separate colour-coded wheelie bin– or empty the content directly inside a separate compartment made in your existing wheelie bin using a wheelie bin separator. If you’re going to use plastic bags in your bin, make sure the recycling is collected using the bag provided by your service provider. If they don’t provide you with a specific bag, remember to use a clear bag to collect your recyclables, as your recycling collector** needs to see the content of the bag. (remember if they can see a lot of contamination, like food scraps mixed with your packaging for example, your recycling may not get recycled!)

Did you know that your food waste can get recycled? Yes – it can get recycled into compost! There are multiple options for you to collect your food scraps and compost it in your own garden – or drop it off at your local composter. For easy collection of food scraps in your kitchen, you could have a counter-top bin which can be emptied into your worm farm, garden composter, compost heap – or into yourBokashi Bin (which is an airtight bin used with Bokashithat composts your food on site).

Is your family unsure what to throw where? Anyone is trainable – your family included! Normally, repetitive reminders help with this type of training. And when you’re tired of hearing your own voice, refer them to a Recycling List that you stick on your fridge or inside a cupboard door.

What about reducing your waste, you ask?

Of course, the kitchen is the primary, ideal place where to ensure that less waste is generated in the fist place. The obvious idea here is to shop cleverly and buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging you are purchasing; and to ensure you’re purchasing products in recyclable packaging. However, here are some additional ideas to consider to go above and beyond (by no means including all the possibilities!):

* Get yourself some fabric Dish covers – Spaza, BestFit and Halo make some beautiful ones, designed and made in South Africa. These dish covers come in different sizes and are used to cover your left-overs before these are stuck into the fridge – so you not longer need cling wrap to cover these!

 * Buy your (planet-friendly) quality cleaning products in BULK bottles to save on packaging and use a quality funnel to refill existing and reusable bottles.

* Don't buy more plastic sponges that require regular replacements:  use a natural fibre sponge to clean your dishes! (YES they work!)

* Wrap school lunches and sandwiches using a piece of fabric or reusable food wraps.

* More good swaps: Reduce cottonwool by using Daily Peach's reusable face pads, Hang your laundry with durable Stainless Steel pegs that will never break and wrap all gifts with beautiful fabric, called Furoshiki.

* Invest in a quality water filter, as well as Sodastream to make cooldrinks or sparkling water – you will never buy bottled water again!

Your Home office

Are you spending your days at your laptop, in Zoom / Teams meetings? Then, having a fancy little office recycling bin is nice to have! If you’re printing, remember that white paper has great recycling value, so keep it separate from the rest of your recycling. You can also donate it to a school near you.

Leaving the house

When leaving the house, have you got the following reusable products with you? These will save you money AND reduce your waste significantly:

  • Your reusable water bottles – we like glass bottles , insulated quality steel bottles or a beautiful copper one from Coppa
  • You travel mugs – whether from glass or bamboo-fibre are our best -if you’re likely to stop for a coffee somewhere,
  • Your reusable produce bags – to use when buying your fruits & veg – never use those thin plastic bags again!
  • And of course, don’t forget your carrier bags to bring home your groceries. Some are just too beautiful not to take along – we love the locally-made ones from Uzwelo – which are 100% made from post-consumer waste.

Your school

School is for education, right? Then, let’s ensure that our kids’ school educates our children about how to be waste-conscious hero! Encourage your school to have fun, visible recycling bins for the kids to use – and maybe one the teachers could undertake the set up of a worm farm ?

Another great school-friendly project is the collection of breadtags and bottle caps for the Breadtag-for-WheelChair initiative – learners are encouraged to bring these from home, and this NGO will arrange for these to be recycled and the proceeds will be used to purchase wheelchairs for people in need of them.  

In Closing

Having a waste-conscious home is not that hard, right? It does require a few changes to your old routine and your old purchases – but we live in unusual times, where change has become the new normal and new habits are formed. So we encourage you to use these times to make small changes that will impact not just your home – but also nature, your community and your family. Your children will thank you.

By Berenice, Postwink – berenicew@postwink.co.za

Updated November 2022


*Benefits of Recycling in short: among other things, recycling saves our natural resources , saves energy, saves space at landfills, reduces the amount of methane created by landfills, saves waste disposal costs, teaches about sustainability thinking, all the while creating a significant number of needed low-skill jobs (in sorting, transporting, processing etc… the collected waste).


**Looking for a recycling collector in your area, visit https://postwink.co.za/recycling-collectors/.