Articles Posted in the Lifestyle category

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

No monkeying around with recycling

September 18, 2009
Posted in Lifestyle

The three-bin system for collection our household recyclable materials.

The three-bin system for collection our household recyclable materials.

Regular readers of Treevolution may know that towards the end of 2007 we signed up with Resolution Recycling to collect recyclable materials from out home every two weeks. At R360/year it was a good deal for us, especially as they recycled everything in an environmentally-friendly way. Unfortunately it seems it wasn’t such a good deal for Resolution and they filed for liquidation in June this year.

The result was that we had a 40L dustbin full of recyclable materials with nowhere to go. And over the next two months the collection grew rapidly. Despite wanting to recycle we had no easy way of doing it. Until I spotted a Resolution Recycling bin in our neighbourhood with an Ecomonkey sticker on it. We’d heard of Ecomonkey but as far as we knew they didn’t operate in our area. I phoned them that day and it turned out that they had started a collection in our area on that very day so we signed up.

Ecomonkey also collects standard recyclables (glass, paper, plastic and metals) every two weeks but the service costs more than Resolution’s did but at R79/month it’s not unaffordable.

Unlike Resolution, Ecomonkey encourages members to separate out the individual material into different bags before put out for collection. You don’t have to, apparently, but we do, using our three-bin system down the side of the house.

Ecomonkey does appear to be expanding fairly quickly and adding new collection areas to its service so it is worth taking a look to see if they cover your area. We’ve now been signed up for a month and so far everything has worked out perfectly.

Less rubbish, please

July 23, 2009
Posted in Green News

The government wants people to throw less waste into landfills and reuse and recycle more. “We need to move away from being a throw-away society … to one which is much more responsible and cognisant of the need to … minimize waste and dispose as a last resort,” the new(ish) minister of water and environment affairs, Buyelwa Sonjica, said in a speech she apparently gave at the local government indaba on environment this week (it was sent out in a media release).

But to get more people to start recycling, local municipalities will have to start making it easier to recycle. There are a committed few who carefully clean and sort their plastics, cans, glass and paper and then take them to the municipal collection centres. But, let’s be honest, it’s a schlep finding somewhere to store all the stuff until you’re ready to load up the car and drive to the drop-off point – which for some people can be quite a long way from home. Those of us who can afford it can pay for a kerbside collection service – free ones are few and far between. But, all in all, there isn’t much in the way of official incentives to get people to recycle.

Could things be about to change, though? The minister said that her department is developing South Africa’s “master plan”, called the National Waste Management Strategy, that will “guide us on how we reduce the amount of waste generated, recover materials where possible, recycle and reuse …”.  She added that her department expects that municipalities “will have to ensure that communities will have access to separate waste bins that will cater for recyclable and non-recyclables”. I wonder what that means. Will we one day in the near future be able to put out a wheelie bin of recyclables on municipal rubbish collection day? That would be nice.

Get out the house, go to a green market

March 31, 2009
Posted in Lifestyle


Pretoria’s botanical garden is a fabulous place to spend a lovely autumn day. There are hundreds of big trees to sit under and picnic and, just outside the entrance gate, there’s a restaurant with an outside balcony that has a great view over a pond and the gardens.

This Saturday morning you have the perfect excuse to visit the gardens because the Green market just happens to be on (April 4). It happens on every first Saturday of the month.

This week’s theme is Reduce.Reuse.Recycle and the organisers are calling on all artists/entrepreneurs to come and sell/exhibit all their creative arts products made from recycled materials. “We need revamped clothes (clothes made new with old clothes etc), scrap metal arts, handmade paper, plastic, tin, glass and electronic waste arts and products … and so much more,” they say.

So if you’re interested in taking part or know of someone who might be interested – you may want to give a speech on recycling or give a creative educational demo, for instance – send an email to Melissa at greenmelilly [at] gmail [dot] com. Or just pack a picnic basket and go and commune with nature for a while.

Africa e-waste pilot project shows promise

February 18, 2009
Posted in Business

The first results of a pilot project to tackle the problem of electronic waste (e-waste) in Africa were released this week.

This initiative was carried out in South Africa, Morocco and Kenya and has produced information on how African governments, organisations and society are dealing with the rising problem of e-waste management, as well as test solutions on the way forward.

The project – a joint initiative of IT company HP, the Global Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF) and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (Empa) – aims to assess and improve the management of e-waste in Africa so as to generate jobs in the informal recycling sector.

The main focus of the pilot project, an e-waste recycling facility in the Cape Town suburb of Maitland, processed about 60 tonnes of electronic equipment, generated an income of around $14,000 (R140,000) from February to November 2008 and created direct employment for 19 people, the project partners said in a press release.

The facility concentrates on low-tech and labour-intensive material dismantling and recovery. Its aim is to refurbish, repair and reuse IT equipment, with environmentally responsible dismantling and recycling only as a last resort. Some non-toxic e-waste is turned into art (see pictures here).

“Our research has … demonstrated some of the incredible entrepreneurial skills we can tap into in the informal sector in Africa,” said project manager and Empa researcher Mathias Schluep.

“By providing tools and training we have removed potential environmental and health problems that can be caused by handling e-waste incorrectly. What’s more, we have created a channel to full employment for creative minds in the informal sector.”

Cisse Kane from the DSF said: “Information technology represents a real opportunity to boost the African economy, but the question of what we do with old equipment once it no longer works is an important one. This project has helped us move some way to closing the loop by providing a model for safe and efficient treatment and disposal of e-waste.”

Assessment studies were carried out in Morocco and Kenya. These “provided a clear picture of the e-waste management landscape in those countries, particularly on the legislation in place, local awareness and behaviour, infrastructural needs and total amount of waste generated”, said the statement.

Kenya, for example, is producing 3,000 tonnes of e-waste per year, with an increase of 200 percent per year, but there is a clear lack of legislative framework and practical e-waste management systems, the study found.

The information and experience gathered in this project, which also included contributions from local organisations and NGOs, will support the launch of the second phase of the project, which aims at engaging corporate and government partners to extend e-waste management programmes to other countries and tackle the problem of e-waste in the entire continent.

“HP has a responsibility that starts with the design of a product and goes right through to its disposal and we take that responsibility very seriously,” commented Klaus Hieronymi, director, environmental business management, HP EMEA. “We see these projects in Africa as both providing employment opportunities for local communities and as a step towards a sustainable solution for tackling electronic waste in Africa.”

Winning name found for glass recycling mascot

February 12, 2009
Posted in Green News


The Glass Recycling Company has found a name for its  mascot – Vusa, which means renew in Zulu. It’s an appropriate choice considering that glass in 100 percent recyclable and infinitely renewable, says the company.

Shabeer Jhetam, the general manager of The Glass Recycling Company, likes the name, which was chosen as the winner after national competition, because it’s fresh, energetic and easy to remember, pronounce and write.

“We hope that all of these qualities will serve as an inspiration and go a long way towards converting South Africans into recyclers of glass.  We want their impression of Vusa to be a lasting one and hope his message will help motivate consumers to embrace green routines that put glass recycling on the top of the list,” says Jhetam.

The name was clearly a popular choice because it was submitted not once but four times, says the company. The R5,000 prize money had to be shared between all the winning entrants, so The Glass Recycling Company generously decided to double the prize money so each winner could pocket a more substantial reward for their creative efforts.

The mascot’s role is to be an ambassador for The Glass Recycling Company and ultimately become a symbol that is recognised around the country.

“Despite being 100 percent recyclable, just 26 percent of all non-returnable glass containers produced annually are retrieved for recycling in South Africa, which is relatively poor when compared to international rates,” says Jhetam.

“Vusa will go on glass recycling assignments that will help increase recovery rates.  He will be a constant reminder that glass is 100 percent recyclable, it is infinitely recyclable and the use of recycled glass in the glass production process does not affect the quality or integrity of the new product.”

For information on the location of local glass banks, how to get a glass bank installed, to start a glass recycling business or to understand the mechanics of glass recycling, visit

Learn the story behind the stuff you buy

December 13, 2008
Posted in Lifestyle

story-of-stuffHave you every wondered where the stuff you buy comes from and what happens to it when you throw it away? Annie Leonard did, but she went further than most of us and decided to find out. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute film that tells you what she discovered.

Leonard is an activist who has spent the past 10 years travelling around the world fighting environmental threats – she’s apparently even been to South Africa – so she knows a thing or two.

In the Story of Stuff she looks at the real costs of extraction, production, distribution, consumption and disposal, and she isolates the moment in history where she says the trend of consumption mania began. She manages to be very informative, without being preachy, and the cute graphics keep things light and highly watchable.

The film underscores the importance of recycling and CONSCIOUS consumption.

This is a good little film to watch before you do your Christmas shopping because it might make you pause and think a bit more carefully about what you spend your money on.

If you’ve got an ADSL line and lots of bandwith you might want to watch it straight off the site, or you can download a copy (50MB) and share it with your friends.

What’s in a name? R5,000 actually

October 20, 2008
Posted in Green News

Think of a name for the Glass Recycling Company’s logo (pictured right) and you could win a nice R5,000 cash bonus for Christmas. It’s your opportunity to help convert South Africans into glass recycling champions.

The competition has been running for a while and a few hundred entries have been received already, but the closing date has been extended.

“Interestingly, many of the entries in so far have been similar in approach with a strong weighting towards names that emphasise the bottle’s characteristics, rather than what he represents: glass recycling and environmentalism,” says Shabeer Jhetam, general manager of The Glass Recycling Company.

The name should also be one that is representative of the demographics of the country, the company says. “Like Zakumi for [the] 2010 [Soccer World Cup], so too should our icon’s name be easily recognisable, it should roll off the tongue without difficulty and must be representative of what The Glass Recycling Company is trying to achieve: a nation of glass recyclers,” says Jhetam.

You’ll find the judging criteria and competition rules on The Glass Recycling Company’s website, plus an online entry form. Or you can send your entries to mel[at]simonsayscom[dot]co[dot]za or fax them to 011-465-7553 (don’t forget to include your contact details with your entry).

You have until November 30 to come up with a good name, so get your thinking caps on.

Nokia offers SA’s first cellphone take-back service

October 13, 2008
Posted in Lifestyle

If each of the 3 billion people in the world who owns a cellphone recycled just one device, 240,000 tons of raw materials could be saved and greenhouse gases equivalent to taking 4 million cars off the road could be saved, says Markus Terho, a director of environmental affairs at Nokia.

But at present only 3 percent of old cellphones are being recycled because people appear to be unaware that they can be.

Nokia has started taking back unwanted cellphones in South Africa with the aim of raising consumer awareness in this country of the fact that these devices can be recycled.

The company has already placed recycling boxes at 20 of its care points, but pretty soon all 34 Nokia care points countrywide should have them, the company says. Take-back collection points should display Nokia’s “We recycle” logo on a poster in the shop window.

You can drop off any make of mobile device including accessories and batteries, the company says.

At present the phones that are handed in are shipped overseas to an accredited recycler because there are no accredited partners in South Africa with the required certifications to do the recycling locally. But the company says it is working at sourcing recyclers within the local market that can be given the necessary accreditation to ensure the proper treatment of used devices.

Between 65 and 80 percent of any Nokia device is recyclable, says Terho. Precious materials can be reclaimed and reused in products such as kettles, park benches, dental fillings or even saxophones and other metal musical instruments. Plastics that can’t be recycled are burnt to provide energy for the recycling process, and other materials are ground up into chips and used as construction materials or for building roads. In this way nothing has to go to landfill, says the company.

Thanks to its globally expanding cellphone take-back programme, Nokia has reclaimed the top spot in the latest Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics. The company says it’s working hard to make it easier for people to recycle, providing information and take-back programmes.

A survey conducted earlier this year found that globally people on average have each owned about five phones, but very few are thrown away or recycled. More than 40 pecent of people simply had them lying around unused in drawers. About 25 percent said they passed on their old phones to friends or family, and 16 percent sold their used devices in emerging markets.

To find your closest Nokia Care point visit the Nokia website or phone 086 11 NOKIA.

How to be a predator-friendly carnivore and other news briefs

September 30, 2008
Posted in Green News

Guide to leopard-friendly farming: Sharing is caring, but when it comes to livestock farming, we humans tend to prefer not to share our sheep and cows with other meat-lovers like leopards, caracals, jackals, eagles and vultures. In fact, farmers have been known to use pretty brutal ways to keep these other predators off their property, like gin traps and poison. The Landmark Foundation has been working to rescue, rehabilitate and release predators, particularly leopards, in the Eastern Cape. It has also been implementing more holistic, non-lethal predator control on farms. Now retail chain Woolworths has sponsored, through its Woolworths Trust, the publication of a comprehensive set of guidelines for predator-friendly livestock farming compiled by Dr Bool Smuts, director of the Landmark Foundation, called “Predators on Livestock Farms: A Practical Manual for Non-Lethal, Holistic, Ecologically Acceptable and Ethical Management”. The manual will be introduced to farmers at a series of one-day workshops and will be introduced to Woolworths suppliers on a one-to-one basis. Perhaps soon we’ll see predator-friendly labels on meat products in Woolworths stores. [Via:]

Wealth from waste: The department of trade and industry is looking at ways to develop the local recycling industry and has commissioned a study to identify challenges and possible solutions, the Engineering News reports. The industry could provide 350,000 unskilled jobs, a government official said. But the infrastructure for recycling needs to be put in place so people no longer have to depend on reclaiming waste from landfill sites.

Xolobeni mining just delayed: The mining licence granted to Transworld Energy and Minerals, the local partner of Australian company MRC, to mine the coastal dunes for titanium in the Xolobeni area of the Wild Coast still stands, the director-general of the department of minerals and energy told Business Day. The signing of the licence, which was originally scheduled for October 31, has merely been delayed so the minister of minerals and energy can receive representations from community members who had launched a legal appeal to suspend the mining and consult the appropriate traditional leaders.

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