I have a new column – Zero Waste Parys – in the local community newspaper of my small home town, Parys. It comes from my ongoing mission regarding recycling, waste and composting. I have an exciting journey ahead to explore and discover my town in a whole new light by looking at ways to refuse packaging to reduce what I bring into my home and thus the waste our household produces.
Discovering locally grown vegetables
Inspired by Zero Waste visionary Bea Johnson (www.zerowastehome.com), I have taken a closer look at my home and lifestyle to see where I can make a difference to the amount of waste that I generate. Every week when I put my bag of recyclables (plastic, glass and metal) out on the curb for the informal waste recycling guys to pick up, I cringe at the volume of waste that our family generates. Comparing the trash bags put out by my neighbours, we are discarding less but it is still too much.
Our dump is a mess, our town is covered in litter and we’re drowning in packaging. I want to do better. We need to do better. And, our town is small enough that we can actually make a difference to the benefit of our local businesses and our ecology. My journey to discover zero and low-waste options in our town has begun.
Bea reminds us of the 5Rs in the stance against needless waste: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot – and in this order. She explains this as “Refuse what you do not need, Reduce what you do need, Reuse what you consume, Recycle what you cannot Refuse, Reduce or Reuse, and Rot (Compost) the rest”.
The place to start is with Refuse. From taking your own reusable fabric shopping bags to the supermarket – so that you are not buying unnecessary plastic bags for your groceries, to saying “No thank you” to plastic bags offered for one or two item purchases, reducing the amount of plastic waste that comes into your home is begun by refusing to accept it.
Unfortunately so much of what we buy comes in volumes of packing to make products eye-catching and attractive and to keep the contents safe and protected. This applies to vegetables too. More and more the pick-your-own-veggies section at the supermarkets is diminishing in favour of pre-packaged offerings, which are usually enticingly cheaper than the prices for picking only a few potatoes, tomatoes and onions.
LOCALLY GROWN VEGETABLES
David and Betty live just outside of town, on the Venterskroon road. They are growing and selling vegetables directly from their hand-ploughed lands to you. They work the fields themselves, tending to the 11 types of vegetables that they are growing. Veggies available vary according to the season and it is worth stopping past regularly to see what is available.
Even more valuable than the vegetables themselves, is the opportunity to pick your own vegetables. Take your children along so that they can learn about how vegetables grow and how to tell when onions, beetroot, carrots and spinach are ready to be harvested. Refuse the plastic bags provided and remember to take along your own fabric bags or a basket to hold your vegetable purchases. David’s prices are fair and of excellent value.
My family has enjoyed enormous sweet potatoes and sweet peas in their pods. David’s carrots are the best I’ve eaten since those my grandmother grew when I was a child – perfect in flavour and texture. The beetroot are ready for picking and there are thousands of onions to look forward to in August. His dark-green leafy spinach grows throughout the year. Look out for potatoes, green beans, cabbage, caulifower, mielies, tomatoes, radishes and chilies in season too.
To find David and Betty, take the R53 to Potch. After 8.5 kilometres turn left onto the Venterskroon road. Travel 350 metres on this dirt road. They are the second farm on the right. Look out for the hand-written sign on the fence that reads “PLAAS-VARS GROENTE” (farm-fresh vegetables).