All the Zero Waste Fails in Botswana

IMG_2681So as you will know, since July 2015 I started to keep all our landfill waste in a jar. Why? So I could see exactly what my landfill waste is, rather than throwing it “away” and not thinking about it.  This system worked really well for us. Our large old rubbish bin is used purely for recyclables, and our food waste goes into our bokashi composter.  With thoughtful consuming, we didn’t have all that much waste really.

By the end of May 2016 the jar was pretty much full, and I was planning on starting a second one soon. For me,it is the most obvious way to have a neat, visual reminder every day, as well as a perfect example when explaining zero waste. It’s not for everyone, but I would highly recommend separating your landfill waste, recyclables and food waste for a week or two.  It is the perfect way to see how you can improve.

So come end of May we were preparing for a holiday in Botswana with friends (not into zero waste). I was in charge of organsing food and drink.  It was all going so well, I had baked rusks and other treats and precooked some snacks, managed to buy biltong, some meat, vegetables, fruit, cheese, olives and milk all package free.  But as I was walking through Woolies to get some eggs, I passed a shelf of bacon and it hit me; it was all going to fall apart on this holiday!  Bringing out the skottel for fried eggs for breakfast without bacon? I would be strung up!  So I bought a few packs of bacon, as I cannot find it at any butchers, bizarrely. First fail.

I had packed two tubs for compost and a bag for recyclables.  So efficient, I know.  Efficient? More like completely ineffective.  First night camping, before we even crossed the border, I emptied a large bag of recyclables, landfill waste and compost into a general bin. Gosh. Second fail.

So all is going well, absolutely flipping loving the holiday (will blog separately) and we were planning on stopping in Maun to stock up on vegetables and meat.  But it was fine, because I was totally prepared for this very moment.  I had my tubs to take to the butchery counter, and I also planned on buying whatever vegetables I could package free between the grocery store and the market on the streets in my bags.  But we changed our plan, stayed at extra night at an awesome camp, instead of overnighting in Maun, which meant we were on severe time constraints to be able to get to the next camp before dark.  So we turn up at an awesome butchery where they also have vegetables, eggs and everything we could need.  I waltzed in armed with my tubs and shopping bags to discover everything was in plastic and vacuum packed – except for the biltong – I won with the biltong!!! This is where you learn to pick your battles! So we bought an abundance of packaged meat and vegetables to see us through for the rest of the journey. Third fail.

So between the complete awesomeness of Botswana and zero willpower, I absolutely chowed down on packaged vegetables, ate packaged slabs of chocolate as if my life depended on it, and quite frankly didn’t give a damn.  I was in Botswana with awesome friends and elephants and lions?!

So not all went to plan. But lessons were learnt.  For better waste organisation system in future, but also just to remember to always just do the best with what you have, when you can, never give up and just keep trying. Maintaining a positive attitude and never giving up- Win!

So now we are back home and back in routine.  Need to figure out what to do with my full waste jar! Think I will definitely start another one, I find it really motivating.


    • That is great! Yes it can be very tricky indeed – some of the camps we stayed in had no running water, electricity or toilets, so recycling facilities were never going to happen! Next time I plan on taking a box where we can crush down most recyclables to be brought home.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Holidays and road tips have been a huge challenge. You do what you can though! Don’t forget about your wins too, like prepping food and being conscious of the waste throughout the trip; it’s more than most would even consider.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s always challenging when you are not in your familiar environment. Great that you at least tried until the end. I really like your statement: “do the best with what you have, when you can, never give up and just keep trying” – this is what counts! Great post! Best, Susanne

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Its good to know we cant get it right 100% of the time. We gota live!
    Going camping for the first time with my little family and had a few up and downs in what to buy and not to buy with the hubby. I plan on doing it best i can!


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