Yet another South African on their zero waste journey, and encouraging, educating and inspiring change.
Khaya Alexander is twenty, and is living with her family in Cape Town whilst working as a waitress. She has recently returned from a trip to Thailand and she spreads the word about her journey via her blog – Waste Less Africa. Khaya is also one of our admins in the Facebook group – Zero Waste Journey in South Africa.
Some Q&A with Khaya …
How did you find out about zero waste living?
I came across a BuzzFeed video on YouTube when I was studying (procrastinating) for Matric finals. It was about Lauren Singer and her jar of trash. I was so intrigued that she had created only a small jar of trash over a 2 year period and I wanted to find out how I could do the same. I started searching for more information on people living the same lifestyle and came across many inspirational zero waste accounts such as Bea Johnson, WasteLandRebel, Gittemary. Their beautiful feeds gave me lots of inspiration and the zero waste journey began.
When did you start your zero waste journey?
October 2015 was when I learnt of zero waste living. From then on I became more aware of the consumer choices I was making, and I started my zero waste journey thoroughly in June 2016.
What drives you to continue with this lifestyle?
Zero waste is my passion. I want all beings to experience a beautiful, clean environment which we all deserve. To me, living zero waste is a way to give back to Mother Earth. I want to be the best version of myself, and I feel that the best version of myself would lead a life that lives mutually with our Earth.
Is everyone in your household on board and if not, how do you deal with this?
I am the only one living a zero waste life. However, where my family lacks in zero waste, they make up in other areas. Everyone is on board with recycling and eco-bricking. My dad is the ultimate DIY guy. He built our own chicken run, made a pool from a second hand boat and has created an awesome veggie garden. He is very water-wise; the grey water from our shower waters the plants and veggies. Our borehole water flushes the toilets and our new pool was filled with collected rain water! From a young age my dad always took me to markets and I now have a love, possible addiction, to thrifting. My family always looks at upcycling/second hand options before buying new. Even though I’d love for them to be on the zero waste journey with me, I am happy that they are making other sustainable living choices.
What made you decide to start your zero social media account?
When I started looking into the zero waste lifestyle I was mostly coming across accounts that were international. I wanted more information from local zero wasters for my journey, so I decided to create my account on Instagram & Facebook.
What is your biggest struggle with the lifestyle?
Travelling in a foreign country is when I struggle the most. When you don’t know the language it’s hard to communicate using your own containers.
What would you say has been your best discovery thus far?
Menstrual cups. It was the thing I was most nervous to try, but I’m so thankful I did. It is so much nicer than using tampons or pads. I can wear my cup the entire day without worrying about having to change it and avoid sending tampons to landfill.
What advice would you give to someone who is on the zero waste journey and is feeling like giving up?
Staying in Thailand and seeing the excessive amount of plastic used shocked me. It was the first time (since embarking on my zero waste journey) that I felt like what I am doing is absolutely useless. For about two weeks I almost slipped back into my wasteful way of life. I met a girl who told me she used to live zero waste at home in France but has stopped since living in Thailand. I didn’t want Thailand to change my beliefs. I was so overwhelmed by the plastic, but I realised that all movements start somewhere. And I want to be a part of those who are living for a cleaner world. Remember why you are living this lifestyle and don’t let the convenience of plastic get in your way.
What packaged item/s are not worth sacrificing, for you?
Packaged things I still buy is rice cakes. I’m obsessed. But will be trying to make my own soon
Do you have a recipe or tip you would like to share?
Ask your local coffee spot if you can have their used coffee grounds (most places throw these grounds away) There are many things you can do with the grounds:
• Make a face/body scrub using equal parts coffee grounds, coconut oil and brown sugar.
• Sprinkle on your plants and in your worm farms.
• Put a box of coffee grounds in the fridge, it will get rid of the odours.
• Mix coffee grounds in your compost to enhance it.
• Put in a sock and leave in car/drawer and be left with a luscious smell of coffee.
Oh, and coconut oil. For everything and anything 😉
Where are the best spots to get package free goods in your town?
The best spots in Cape Town are any of the Food Lovers Markets, Organic Zone and Rodgers Fruiterers. There are two new stores that have opened: Zero Waste Store that trades at the Earth Fair Market and Wild & Waste Free Lifestyle & Food Co Op in Glencairn. Faithful to Nature also has great plastic-free products available! You can shop online using a plastic free filter.
Anything else you would like to share?
Eco-bricking is one of my favourite things to do! And Candice Mostert of Waste-ED is an inspiration. Waste-ED collects eco-bricks for builds and holds amazing educational programs.