Reduce, reuse, recycle


  • Buy only what you need and avoid buying excessively packaged products
  • Buy in bulk (less packaging) those items you use a lot. Buy refills and concentrates
  • Buy products that offer packaging made from recycled materials, such as kitchen towels and shampoo bottles with recycled plastic content
  • Try to avoid disposable products, such as disposable razors, cameras, paper plates
  • Choose glass over plastic as it can be recycled. Many plastic packaging items are still not recyclable in South Africa
  • Avoid toxic or hazardous products


  • Where you no longer have a use for something, find somebody who does. Schools, charities, libraries and some drop-off centres may accept unwanted clothes, furniture, toys, books, videos and magazines
  • Repair items rather than throwing them away. Support your local seamstress, shoemaker, bike repair shop and so on. This also stimulates jobs in your community

Some handy ideas for reusing household goods:

  • Store food in reusable containers, rather than non-recyclable cling-wrap or tin foil made from resource-intensive aluminium
  • Reuse gift wrap and greeting cards
  • Consider non-material gifts such as a night out
  • Cut up used paper into squares to reuse as notepads
  • Use both sides of any piece of paper and then recycle
  • Plastic pots and waxed or plastic-coated milk or juice cartons make excellent pots for seedlings


  • Recycle waste that cannot be repaired or reused by dropping it off at your nearest recycling depot or drop-off facility (see the Cape Town Green Map for a recycling depot close to you)
  • Choose packaging and products that have recycled contents and are recyclable – look for the recycled symbol
  • Use your vegetable waste to make compost

The benefts of recycling

  • reduces the amount of waste going into landfill sites, saving airspace
  • creates jobs and money for schools and organisations
  • reduces pollution and litter
  • saves raw materials needed to make new products
  • reduces the need to import expensive raw materials
  • slows down the consumption of the world’s non-renewable (oil, coal and iron) and renewable resources (trees)
  • reduces energy costs in manufacturing of containers, packaging, etc.
  • saves water (used in packaging and product manufacture).Recycling paper uses 50% less water than paper that is made from wood pulp

Becoming a recycling home

A good place to start is to set up three bins (consider using reused boxes) in your house:

  • an ‘organic’ bin for the compost heap
  • a ‘dry’ recyclables bin (cans, plastic, glass bottles, plastic wrap, paper and egg boxes)
  • a bin for non-recyclable waste. This will help you to sort your waste at source

source: SMART Living Handbook

Get practical

What can I recycle
Have your recycling picked up from home
Read the green guide to recycling

Where can I recycle

– click on the green map and find your closest recycling drop-off

Step-by-step recycling:

How to make and recycle paper
Make a self-watering recycled vase
Greenhouse made from recycled windows
Bottle herb garden – a recycling project
An algae bioreactor from recycled water bottles!

Other waste topics

What you can, and can't, recycle
Hazardous waste (chemicals, batteries & CFLs)
Start a compost heap or worm bin
Safe, alternative cleaning products
Dealing with creepy crawlies naturally

Go green home