Guide to Recycling in South Africa: First edition available now

November 7, 2011
Posted in Lifestyle, Recycling  

It’s been in the pipeline for a while but now, after more than a little procrastination and a lot of research, Treevolution’s Guide to Recycling in South Africa is here.

This short booklet is intended to be an easy-to-use guide to the basics of recycling and is full of useful tips, ideas and contacts for getting everyone recycling.

This is the first edition of the guide and while we have done our best to ensure it is accurate, useful, and up to date, there is undoubtedly room for improvement. So, if you spot an error or you have a suggestion for future editions please do let us know. You can do that by sending us an email on guides@treevolution.co.za or simply send us a message on Twitter or Facebook.

The recycling guide is free to download from here though we do ask you to give us a little hand by spreading the word. The download page includes some links for sharing the guide using social networks and you could also just tell your friends and colleagues about it the traditional way: word of mouth.

Pretoria gardens launches monthly organic market

January 26, 2011
Posted in Lifestyle  

It seems that green-themed and organic markets are popping up everywhere these days. We’ve written about some of them previously and now there is another one to add to the list.

The setting for this one is perfect: The Pretoria National Botanical Gardens. The next market will be held on 5 February from 9am – 4pm.

This new green/organic market has stalls specialising in organic goods, antiques, second-hand items and products made out of recycled goods.

Entrance to the gardens for market visitors will cost R10 per adult and R5 for the little ones.

Putting plastic bottles to work in the garden

November 12, 2010
Posted in Garden, Green tips  

Struggling to keep your seedlings alive without watering them constantly? Try this guaranteed-to-work tip:

Find a couple of clear plastic cooldrink bottles. The big 2-litre ones are ideal for the job. Cut the bottom off the bottle, remove the lid and put a bottle over each of your seedlings.

It work like magic. Because they are clear plastic they allow in sunlight (which the little seedlings need) but they also help to keep the plants from drying out. Even if you don’t water them every day the condensation in the bottle keeps the seedlings from drying out.

The bottles also keep out the snails which love to chew on fresh, baby seedling leaves.

Even better, the seedlings grow substantially faster in their plastic homes than they do in the hot, exposed sun. These lettuce plants were planted out in the garden about ten days ago but were all raised from seed at the same time. The bigger plant is the one growing under a plastic bottle dome. The ones in the tray are drying out faster than I can water them.

 

Everyday recycling: Shopfront mannequins

November 1, 2010
Posted in Lifestyle, Recycling  

We spotted this when we ventured out north to the new BluBird wholefood market. The shop window display at this optometrist made clever use of old plastic bottles and caps to create a unique display for their spectacles.

Sometimes it’s not just about recycling old bottles and cans into new products but it’s also about re-using old materials to create new ideas. Very clever.

Have you seen a good re-use of old material recently? Send us a picture and we’ll post it here.

Trendy organic shopping at the BluBird market

October 29, 2010
Posted in Lifestyle  

The past couple of years have seen a boom in the number of organic markets in Johannesburg, from the long running Bryanston Organic Market to the relatively new Jozi Food Market, which we wrote about some time back.

This past weekend we headed out north, to the BluBird Wholefood market in Birnam, to take a look at what this market had to offer.

The food market is held at the trendy new BluBird shopping centre which is just off Corlett Drive and down the road from Wanderers cricket ground.

The food market is held every Sunday morning from 9am to 2pm and has a range of foods available from fresh breads to home-cured biltong and cheeses to pates, spices and olive oils. There’s Thai food, Indian spices, samoosas and croissants, all gathered together under the architectural eves.

Although relatively small there is still a wide enough selection of foods in offer at the market to make it worth a trip on Sunday morning. It’s perfect if you’re looking for something for a light Sunday lunch.

Our personal haul this time around included a couple of loaves of bread (including a fantastic rye loaf), a jar of sweet pate, a bag of biltong which was finished before we left the market, and some haloumi cheese.

The BluBird centre is unashamedly upmarket and you’ll have to mingle with the well-heeled enjoying Sunday breakfast, but for the food it’s worth at least one trip.

Quick wins in the garden

October 19, 2010
Posted in Garden  

We go on a lot at Treevolution about growing and eating your own food. Sometimes we might make it sound a relatively easy thing to do. And usually it is. But there are times when it can be exceedingly frustrating and you wonder if it is all worth it when you look at your less-than-abundant crop.

It’s easy to be disheartened.

If you’re feeling this way then go out and get yourself a few lettuce seeds or seedlings, some tomato seeds and a couple of basil seedlings.

As far as I am concerned these are not only the most rewarding of plants to grow but also the most essential for summer.

Lettuce seeds – we tend to use the Lolla Rossa variety – are among the easiest seeds to grow. Fill a couple of seed trays with vermiculite or seedling soil, plant the seeds and water them every few days, keeping them lightly damp at all times, and within a week you’ll see signs of life.

This year I am using vermiculite for most of my seeds. It’s sterile, holds a good deal of moisture so seeds don’t dry out and I’ve had fewer problems with disease. You can get vermiculite at most hardware and gardening stores and you can use it on its own or together with a good seedling soil.

Tomato seeds and basil seeds are just as easy to grow. Both take little longer to sprout than lettuce seeds but once going they’re pretty robust. If you can’t wait then get a few trays of seedlings which will also do the trick.

The loose-leafed lettuces like Lolla Rossa are perfect for the family because you can pull off a few leaves at a time and they just keep on giving. They have frilly leaves and grow loose, not in in a round ball.

Basil, once it’s got going, grows like a bomb. The beauty of basil is that it’s one of those plants that loves being picked. Rip off a few leaves for dinner and it’ll start growing back immediately. At the end of the season, before they die off, pick the remaining leaves, toss them in a liquidiser and freeze them in icecube trays for use throughout winter.

Tomatoes also take a while to get going – plant them in the garden for full effect – but once they do, and if you’ve got a good number of plants, you’ll have enough to last you out the summer.

There’s not much like a weekend lunch made up of freshly-picked lettuce, basil and tomatoes. Add a bit of good cheese and it’s almost perfect.

Good music and cellphone recycling

October 6, 2010
Posted in Lifestyle  

We’ve all got them: Old cellphones with dead batteries and archaic chargers piling up in bottom drawers and in cupboards. If you’re like us then you probably shudder at the thought of simply tossing them out with regular household waste. And so you should.

Cellphones are electronic waste and not only can many of the materials be recycled for future use but they also pose a potential chemical hazard when simply dumped into landfill sites.

So, if you’re in Joburg or Cape Town this weekend why not go along to the Rocking the Daisies (Cape Town) or Rocking the Gardens (JHB) concerts and drag all your old cellphones along? Nokia, a sponsor of the concerts, will have recycling bins available at the venues ready to receive all your old mobile phones.

They don’t have to be Nokia phones, any make of mobile phone will be accepted and Nokia has also committed to planting a tree for every 20 phones collected.

More on Nokia’s blog

Coming soon … the book

October 2, 2010
Posted in site news  

That’s right, we’re working on the first edition of a series of guides to living a greener life. The first of these guides is planned for release in October 2010. The first release will be a new-look, easy-to-read guide to recycling in South Africa. This is built on the long-running online recycling guide that we have had since Treevolution started.

We plan to release new versions of each guide every three to six months so that we can incorporate feedback, new information and the most up-to-date resources.

If you would like to be among the first to know when the first guide is released, add your email address below and we’ll email you when the guide is released.

Summer salads: Tabbouleh

September 3, 2010
Posted in Food  

My sister asked me today what salad she thought she should serve for a lunch with a friend tomorrow.

The thing about salads is that they can be supremely dull: a couple of salad leaves, tomatoes and some sort of cheese is not inspiring, even if it is easy to put together.  Fancy salads, on the other hand, are just that: fancy, over the top and time consuming.

Which is why I thought of tabbouleh. It’s certainly not dull and yet is fantastically easy to make. A little bit of chopping and you’re done.

Tabbouleh is just as well described as bulgar wheat salad (or cracked wheat). You get it in most shops and, like couscous, it doesn’t need to be cooked as such. It’s a perfect summer salad because it has the flavour of tomatoes, lemons, parsley and a light hint of spring onion.Many recipes call for huge amounts of parsley. You can adjust this according to your taste, but it does still need a healthy dose of parsley.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup bulgar wheat (cracked wheat)
  • 2 cups finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (vary this according to taste)
  • 1/2 cup chopped spring onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped mint
  • 2 cups chopped ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper

In a bowl soak the bulgar wheat in water for about 20 minutes and then drain well. Put the wheat into a serving bowl, add the parsley, onions, mint and tomatoes and toss it all up.

In a separate bowl whisk the olive oil and lemon juice. Pour this over the wheat mixture and you’re done.

Perfect for a summer lunch.

There are infinite variations on this salad. This is the most basic of them. You could add cucumbers, for example, to get it another fresh taste. Try it this way and then experiment.

Celebrating spring with chai tea

September 1, 2010
Posted in Food  

It’s hot, it’s sweet, it’s spicy. and there is nothing like it on a hot summer day. It’s chai tea. And with today being spring day it’s a perfect drink to celebrate the fast approaching summer.

Originating in the Indian sub-continent Masala Chai (“spiced tea”) is made by brewing tea with a mixture of spices, sugar and milk. The result is a warming, spicy cup of tea that somehow seems appropriate on even the hottest of days.

 

Making chai is simple and quick. This is the way I usually make it but, because there is no fixed chai recipe, it’s just as good if you vary the spices, the quantities and how you prepare the spices.

Typically Chai is made with any number of spices, including cardamom, cinammon, peppercorns, cloves, star anise and ginger. These are usually crushed, but for a lighter flavoured tea don’t crush the spices before adding to the pot. Crushing the spices will give the tea more of a “kick”.

Ingredients

  • 1 litre hot water
  • 1 big teaspoon cardamom pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 or 2 whole star anise
  • 2 regular teabags
  • 1 cup milk

Bash the spices up in a pestle and mortar. Cardamom and star anise seed pods will remain which is fine. Put the spices into a pot over medium heat and toast the spices for a minute. They mustn’t burn but you’ll smell the fantastic aroma as they toast.

Add the litre of hot water to the spices. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Then add the two teabags to the pot and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Finally, add the cup of milk and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Strain the larger pieces out of the tea and serve with sugar.

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