• Nicola Zaina

Low Impact Rural Living

Travelling through the Eastern Cape was an enchanting experience, while relatively close to the Western Cape it is still far from Cape Town and does feel like a different country.

They definitely have their own set of challenges, there I was thinking that every place we stayed at would have a great internet connection, something I am used to having. Well, I was very wrong, getting the internet was a bit like winning the jackpot. It could have been frustrating but the best thing to do in the Eastern Cape is to go with the flow, so the laptop hardly got turned on.

What really struck me on this trip was the importance to reduce rather than just recycle our waste. Recycling is easy in Hout Bay, we put all our recycling in a clear plastic bin bag and leave it outside the same day as our regular black bin. Heh, presto done, in fact as I write this I can hear the dustbin truck.

But not so easy getting rid of stuff when you live on a pristine bit of the Wild Coast, as I discovered when we stayed at Cebe. With only a few holiday homes the local council no longer allows the open pit rubbish dump they used to have, this was common practice on farms and rural areas. So how do you get rid of your waste?

It’s complicated, the home had 6 bins!

Compost goes into the compost bin, what about bones? They need to get burnt along with other wet waste. As does plastic, foil, cardboard and paper. It seemed so hectic to be burning plastic. Although our host said foil was the worst because once burnt little bits end up flying all over the place. Tins get squashed and glass gets its own bag, these are taken to East London 170km away to be recycled. But most other people who holiday in the area don’t do this.

Funky lampshades from Ricoffy tins, Hogsback

New life for tins as cutlery holders, Hogsback

I like to think I am fairly aware when it comes to how much waste we generate and I try to be mindful of plastic packaging. But I was horrified when we arrived with all our food and then came face to face with the reality of getting rid of our waste.

The silver lining is that there is very little plastic pollution in these rural areas. The more remote the area the less likely that food is from a shop and more likely to be homegrown. I only saw plastic bags blowing against fences and waste strewn in the fields in the larger towns.

In Madagascar, when we visited many years ago everyone walks to town with a little basket and does their shopping fruit, vegetables and meat, no packaging and all brought home in those little baskets.

In cities some things are simpler, we create a lot more waste because it is so much easier to dispose of. But in rural areas where service delivery is as likely as seeing a unicorn you have to be resourceful and living a low impact lifestyle is essential.

Just imagine what would you do with all your waste if suddenly no-one came to pick up your rubbish? Try thinking about everything you throw into your dustbin or put aside for recycling. What would you do with it all if there were no refuse collection or recycling options? Made me think…

Ground glass for art at Owl House, Nieu Bethesda

#reducerecycle #plasticwaste #ruralliving

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