Our landfills are actually land-fulls.

Don't panic! Changing the world doesn't mean inviting chaos and confusion into your life. The 6 Rs have been designed to help you revolutionise the way you manage your household or business - simply. 

September is Heritage Month in South Africa and it’s also Clean-up SA Month – a time we can use to assess the size of our environmental footprint and make a few changes that will have a big impact in the long run.

And remember, 19 September is International Coastal Cleanup Day. The Two Oceans Aquarium has arranged a morning out to Melkbosstrand to clean up there. Please join us in cleaning that - or any other - beach on the 19th.

Of course, cleanup days like these wouldn’t be necessary if we implemented planet-friendly strategies in our daily lives. Big or small, every sustainable step is a step in the right direction.

The president of the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa Professor Suzan Oelofse has offered guidance on what exactly the 6 Rs mean, and we asked Two Oceans Aquarium staff to tell us about the practical ways that they make a difference in their personal lives every day.

Reduce

Loggerhead hatchlings drift with the ocean currents. They mistake plastic for food. This one had half a gram of plastic in its body. Unfortunately, it did not survive. Photo by Renée Leeuwner

Decide to use and consume less. “Buy only what you need and be mindful of unnecessary wastage – rather buy reusable items and reconsider over-packaging,” says Prof Oelofse.

“We try and keep only necessary lights on and we switch the geyser off during the day, when no one is home. Supper has become a one-pot wonder since we cut out rice and potatoes. So instead of using two to three stove plates per night, everything is cooked on one plate.” – Jacinta Subjee, Two Oceans Aquarium Marketing Coordinator

“I practise a lot of self-discipline when it comes to impulse-buying. It started out as a ‘budget issue’ years ago but now it’s become my conscious effort to tread lightly. I always, always ask myself: Do you need this or want this? I like to spoil myself with experiences, not things.” – Ingrid Sinclair, Two Oceans Aquarium Digital Content Coordinator

Rethink

This is a pile of plastic box bands and other plastic items that have been removed from the bodies of harbour seals by the Two Oceans Aquarium team. Photo courtesy Ray D Chaplin

Be aware of your consumption habits. “Rethink and question everything you buy and consume. By making this a daily routine, you will soon become aware of products that are recyclable or made from recyclable materials,” says Prof Oelofse.

“I have a small composter in my flat’s kitchen, which all my food waste goes into. Once it’s full, this goes to the Oranjezicht City Farm, where they use it for composting.” – Katja Rockstroh, Two Oceans Aquarium Environmental Education Centre PA to Head of Education

“My daughter did the Smart Living course at the Aquarium and even convinced her gran to start recycling! ” – Jacinta Subjee, Two Oceans Aquarium Marketing Coordinator

Refuse

The Two Oceans Aquarium has enjoyed great support from Woolworths in our campaigns. Find your favourite reusable bags and stop using single-use plastic today.

“Another way to be more sustainable is to refuse buying or consuming certain items to ultimately not generate waste. This is not always easy and does not mean that you should not consume – it is rather to consume with care and thought,” says Prof Oelofse.

“I keep a (plastic) fork in my handbag. If I get food from a take-out, I generally don’t take the bag they pack it in and I use my own fork – which I then wash and put back in my bag. ” – Renée Leeuwner, Two Oceans Aquarium Assistant Communications and Sustainability Manager

“I keep reusable shopping bags with me at all times and never, ever accept single-use plastic bags when I shop. And this not only goes for groceries – clothing, books, everything we buy is handed to us in a plastic bag.” – Hayley McLellan, Two Oceans Aquarium Environmental Campaigner

Recycle

Straws suck! Straws are lightweight and easily blown away by the wind. They are not recyclable. Animals can mistake straws for food, which can lead to their deaths.

By separating recyclable materials at source, waste is diverted from landfill sites and clean recyclables becomes available as secondary resources.  

“We have been making a concerted effort to recycle, especially since it's become so convenient to drop the recycling off here at work. I also bring some of my relatives’ recycling to work.” – Jacinta Subjee, Two Oceans Aquarium Marketing Coordinator

Check out www.mywaste.co.za for a recycling service near you, and convince your own place of work to facilitate recycling live we have done here at the Aquarium.

“I collect the excess of my bush trimmings at home, pile it up and let it decompose to use as mulch for the rest of the garden. Recycling of nutrients! ” – Deen Hill, Two Oceans Aquarium Collections Officer

Reuse

One of our turtles in rehab, Bob, pooed out this pile of plastic. This included pieces of balloons, some still attached to their string and several other large bits of plastic. Read about Bob's rollercoaster rehabilitation here. And say no to balloons!

There are a lot of items that can be used for something else or by someone else, extending its product life. “Before you throw items away, first think of whether it can be used for something else. Also think about donating items to people or organisations that can make use of it,” says Prof Oelofse.

“I use the scrap paper from the office (printed on one side) and take it home either for my son or send it to his pre-school for the children to scribble on.” – Carrin Blake, Two Oceans Aquarium Group Booking Coordinator

“I collect cardboard toilet rolls at home and every now and then bring in a (reusable) bag of them for the AfriSam Children’s Play Centre, where they’re used for kiddies’ arts and crafts.” – Hayley McLellan, Two Oceans Aquarium Environmental Campaigner

Replace

If you become an Aquarium member during the month of September, you could win a R500 hamper from Africa Organics - certified organic, cruelty-free and vegan. Click here for more information

Look critically at the products and items you buy. “There are a lot of fantastic products on the market that are environmentally friendly and recyclable, which you could consider when replacing consumer goods” says Prof Oelofse.

“I like to go buy my veggies and fruit at vendors that sell their product without packaging and that don’t insist that it’s put into plastic bags.” – Katja Rockstroh, Two Oceans Aquarium Environmental Education Centre PA to Head of Education

“Everything in my house is biodegradable, recyclable or certified organic: my dishwashing liquid, shampoo, toothpaste – even my toothbrush is bamboo, and so is my toilet paper!” – Hayley McLellan, Two Oceans Aquarium Environmental Campaigner

Check out how to green your footprint here.

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