1001 Water-and Waste-wise Ways: "Are you still doing this?"
Yes, I’m still doing this. That’s water collected from wells, springs and rain sources, not bottled water.

Yes, I’m still doing this. That’s water collected from wells, springs and rain sources, not bottled water.

The other day, my sister dropped in for a cuppa and found me pouring well water splashily into my washing machine. “Are you STILL doing this?” she asked. Likewise, a friend drove past as I was filling bottles at a local spring, and stopped to ask the same question. And then an email popped up from the Teabag Elf (remember her? Still my favourite tipster) letting me know she missed my “Green Hat” blogs. (Sorry, TE, I was ambushed by extra work over the “holidays” and then a PC crash got me behinder and behinder.)

Yes, I am still 99% off the water grid. I run the dishwasher once a month to keep everything sanitary, as I do a lot of bottling, pickling, and knitting of yoghurt. And I still brush my teeth in municipal water and go round giving the taps short bursts now and again, because I have an irrational fear of critters moving into unused pipes. But it’s hard to believe that this time last year, Capetonians were trampling each other in supermarkets to score and stockpile bottled water, or that foreign TV crews were showing up to film my garden pressure-sprayer in action as a camping shower. I went past the water shop in the mall yesterday, and all was quiet: this where folk queued for hours to buy (filtered) municipal water a year ago.

What happened? For starters, the mass hysteria evaporated [groan]. Many now seem to believe that the entire water crisis was fake news.

It was not. We dodged a catastrophe. A trawl through the back issues of this blog will explain how and why the incoming mortar shell exploded (fairly) harmlessly in the air just before touchdown. But as far as I can make out from the PR (which I distrust deeply, and with good reason) coming from the City of Cape Town, we all deserve a “rest”, to “recuperate” from the trauma of having had to cut our individual water consumption to 50 litres a day. (Pity future generations won’t get any “rest” from the environmental disasters we’ve created.)

This, I suspect, is because of the economic impact of water restrictions on tourism to our heart-stoppingly beautiful, heart-stoppingly unequal, and heart-stoppingly fragile city. The message is clear: dear visitors with hard currency, you may shower and frolic in hotel pools as much as you like, and we’ll agree to ignore impending Armageddon. With notable exceptions (well done, Vineyard Hotel), my experience of the few guesthouses I stayed in last year was of being told “Oh, the water shortage doesn’t affect us, there are no restrictions here!” Offers to bring my own towels and questions about whether there was a water-collecting bucket in the shower were met with polite incredulity. Even when the Cape’s biggest dam stood at only 13% capacity.

The CoCT learned some important lessons: that agriculture — generator of food (you know, that stuff we need to eat three times a day) and the major source of employment for rural communities — needs to be a priority in allocating water use. Legumes before lawns, spinach before swimming pools. But UCT’s Prof Lesley Green and other notables have observed that while the City’s systems work fairly well for normal conditions, there has been little or no planning for the increasingly catastrophic effects of climate change.

My waste research has rubbed my nose in the fact that even as the world starts to burn (look at the Western Cape a few short weeks ago, at California, Australia, Tasmania), we stick our fingers in our ears and sing “la-la-la” when it comes to the impact our pesky species (or rather, its staggering greed-need to consume and insane emphasis on profit before survival) is having on the planet. So devastating as I find the merry assumption that our water troubles are over, I am not surprised.

The truth is that we got decent rains last winter. Decent. Not great, but not bad either. And that saved our rapidly frying bacon — but only temporarily. As of now, we are gamblers. We’ll be fine in the short-term if there are average to good rainfalls this coming winter. And the next. And the next. But there is no longer any guarantee of this: the one thing all the climate predictions agree on is that the weather is becoming increasingly, well, unpredictable. In terms of rain falling from the skies, we now live in an era of Russian roulette.

So to revert to putting drinking water on our lawns and in our pools because the water crisis “is over” is like having a kind aunt (Mother Nature in our case) pay off our credit card bills — and responding by rushing out to shop all over again. And that is why I am bitterly opposed to the relaxation of local water-saving regulations.

I confess I am heartily sick of bucket-bathing, and the smell of grey water (although Pro-Bac and juniper oil help). But I simply can’t bring myself to pour drinking water down a toilet ever again. Plus I find I’ve changed certain habits: even in winter, I manage bathing/sponging in cold or tepid water just fine — even though I used to be the ultimate hot-water sybarite. Plus I love the sense of independence my water-harvesting gives me: cutting out the municipal middleman.

Meanwhile, there are small but heartening signs that keep me from slitting my wrists: huge rainwater tanks in a small local informal settlement; rain-tanks everywhere, in fact, especially at institutions like schools. Frogs and a resident water snake in a once-chlorinated pool (the owner of said eco-pool has mixed feelings about this, not helped by her friends congratulating her on her good fortune).

Water-lily in what was once an expensive, electricity- and chemical-consuming pool. Now a beautiful eco-pool filled with rainwater, and the family swim in it every day.

Water-lily in what was once an expensive, electricity- and chemical-consuming pool. Now a beautiful eco-pool filled with rainwater, and the family swim in it every day.

The way journo Miriam Mannak’s washing-up water keeps gifting her with tomato and chilli plants; and in spite of the sun scorching my poor veg patch, the huge feral killer butternuts generated by my compost heap.

Four different kinds of tomato and chillies. From pouring washing-up water into pot-plants.

Four different kinds of tomato and chillies. From pouring washing-up water into pot-plants.

Meanwhile, the waste research goes on, although I’m going to have to draw a line soon, or I’ll be writing One Million and One Waste-wise Ways: plus the ongoing anguish about whether reducing waste actually has a significant impact continues to split my head. Especially with data now showing that the single biggest planet-saving act by a middle-class person is to have no children (fifty per cent greater impact than anything else, including living off-grid and giving up car and plane travel). Pointing this out is not going to win popularity contests. So I give you a butternut the size of a baby instead.

And here’s one of my rogue butternuts.

And here’s one of my rogue butternuts.

Helen Moffett
1001 Water- and waste-wise ways: The Great Christmas Conundrum
Here is a nice soothing picture (some of my favourite things) before I start my annual Christmas grump.

Here is a nice soothing picture (some of my favourite things) before I start my annual Christmas grump.

This is me, after venturing out to a mall yesterday.

This is me, after venturing out to a mall yesterday.

I am notorious for being a Grinch about what I call “Excessmess”. Over 30 years ago, I did my first Black Christmas (for political reasons, boycotting everything except the four Fs: family, friends, faith and food). However, once you’ve eschewed presents, decorations, cards, frenzied shopping-malls, that hissing sense of collective insanity that translates into Russian roulette on the roads and domestic mayhem when alcohol is mixed in — it’s hard to go back.

I’ve written about this fairly often — here’s one of my “well, if you MUST do gifts…” posts from Christmases Past. Look, there is no way to say this that doesn’t sound scoldy or slappably virtuous — but the holiday season is an absolute orgy of waste. Wasted food, tons of paper, packaging, single-use trinkets into landfills — you don’t need me to spell it out. But there are alternatives that don’t necessitate ruining family rituals — from tiny things, like wrapping gifts in your children’s drawings, or making gifts (time-consuming but satisfying, especially if it’s food), to the simple, like just sommer donating the gift budget to charity. Instead of presents for distant cousins, why not grocery vouchers for the service staff who’ve made your life a bit easier this year?

I’ve been decluttering for Christmas, which has done the planet, the beneficiaries and me the world of good. I now have LESS STUFF, and NPOs I care about have goods that fit their purposes and needs. (A little old lady in the Oasis charity shop SEIZED my twelve-year-old blender, and I had to chase after her to explain it didn’t handle pestos or grind nuts anymore. All good: she wanted it for salad dressings and soups. She was SO delighted. And right there, on the spot: my festive glow.)

My idea of the perfect Christmas tree. You can EAT it. (It’s a rosemary plant, trimmed.)

My idea of the perfect Christmas tree. You can EAT it. (It’s a rosemary plant, trimmed.)

But I’ve been thinking about kindness, and how we have not been kind to our home, Planet Earth. A good place to start is by actively cultivating kindness to everyone and everything — hopefully, the ripples will spread out. Here’s something I put on my Facebook page after a rather disastrous year:

’Usually at this time of year, I advise people to rest, to give to charities instead of doling out prezzies, to squeeze the people and four-leggits they love. Also to acknowledge that the collective madness about families, impossible myths of happiness and love, can make this an agonisingly difficult time of year. Many face the place at the dinner table that will never be filled again.

‘I hope that advice hasn't been patronising or saccharine. I still want to say the same, but with the kind of resonance that comes from thrashing with one's own mortality: something to be grateful for is that we're still here. Each year presents us with loss, often grievous, sometimes crippling. But we're still breathing, and we have work to do. We have a planet to safeguard, wars to prevent or ameliorate, and a thousand small gestures of kindness to make in our immediate circle.

‘How to be kind? Do unto others. How do we do that? The trouble with the advice of the man whose birth we're celebrating is that it's too radical for most: "Go sell all that ye have and give it to the poor." Here's the gentler version: use your imagination. That person is missing her dead mother; that man is tempted to drown his demons in drink; that woman feels sad that she isn't happy just because "it's Christmas!" Tell them you know things are difficult, you're there if they want to talk. If you’re not the talky type, distraction works wonders for the unhappy. Give them something useful to do and then thank them for doing it. Praise wherever praise is due. If you like something someone says or does or creates, TELL THEM.

‘If you need to creep away from people at this time of year, do it. If you have the heart and stamina for it, invite the isolated in.

‘And so many have pressing practical needs: they're hungry, they're unemployed, they're homeless. What the poor must think of the spectacle of middle-class consumption at this time of year makes me shudder. So give as generously as you possibly can, of your time, goods and money, to charities and non-profits. You can have enormous fun fitting projects to people: donate to an animal shelter or pay for a spay for your animal-loving aunt, plant trees or give to food garden projects for the gardening enthusiast, support child literary projects like Book Dash in honour of your booky pals — the list is endless. Google and even Facebook is a great help in finding perfect projects in your own backyard.

One of my favourite projects. Pic copyright Book Dash.

One of my favourite projects. Pic copyright Book Dash.

‘A friend recently mourned, "Why can't people be kind?" and got the response: "For many, this means giving up power." That is a terrible indictment of where we are now as a species. Kindness makes us vulnerable, but it is the most potent form of agency there is. It can change lives. In the end, it might recreate a habitable planet for all the life still on it.’

I wish all readers of this blog, of whatever faith tradition (or none), a safe and tranquil time over the next week.

PS: I said I didn’t do presents. I lied. Here’s one for my friends.

Colin Firth and cats.jpg


Helen Moffett
1001 Water- and waste-wise ways: Respecting food
Photo by Miriam Mannak

Photo by Miriam Mannak

There now, isn’t that a cheering image? And there’s a lovely story attached. Journalist Miriam Mannak takes water saving seriously, so all her washing-up water is poured onto her pot-plants. And there were obviously some tomato seeds in that water, and next thing, she was harvesting three different varieties of home-grown tomatoes…

A few days ago, I was in a mix of despair and disgust over perhaps the most (I hate to use this word, but it fits) immoral form of waste — food waste. But Miriam’s photo reminds me that sometimes we can do the opposite of wasting — that “recycling” food and water via seeds and soil is actually one of the most basic and necessary human activities. Taking part, even if it’s just a squash plant on our compost heap or a herb in a pot, is good for us and the planet.

The trouble with our throwaway culture is that we’ve extended it to food. You do not need me to tell you that this is just plain wicked (besides, I already did). But one problem is that the middle classes are no longer taught how to stretch food, use it thriftily, and work wonders with leftovers. My parents’ generation was excellent at this, because they grew up during or right after the deprivations of World War 2. Food was sometimes scarce, often sparse, and always seasonal — people cooked what was available, and every bite counted. But this takes a little skill (and a lot of common sense), and that skill has drained away with frightening speed in the last few decades. We may be addicted to TV cooking shows, but we have no longer have any idea what to do with a glut of lemons, or how to give leftover cheese sauce new life.

It’s surprisingly easy to turn ageing cabbage, turnips and radishes into pickles.

It’s surprisingly easy to turn ageing cabbage, turnips and radishes into pickles.

When I was sixteen, a change of schools meant that I started studying Domestic Science for the first time. Our matric textbook was a template for Christian National Education (it was assumed that only women cooked, that we were all white, and that we all had domestic workers — referred to as “servants”). I remember paging through the instructions on how to make our own preserves (OK, FAIRLY useful — I’ve always made my own chutney as a result), how to cater for “ladies’ teas” and children’s parties (including tricksy stuff like eclairs and Turkish delight), and the piece de resistance — making our own wedding cakes, right down to the marzipan and royal icing. “But this is useless,” I thought. “Where’s the section on how to stretch a pound of mince and a celery stalk into supper for six?” (I had to work it out myself: oats, grated carrot and lots of onion. It took several years before I discovered Indian shops and the glory of red lentils and proper spices.)

My parents were amazing in this regard: to this day, every third or fourth lunch or supper is an inventive combination of leftovers. From them, I learned the basics: runny or soggy leftovers (sauces, gravies, curries, cooked soft veg like cabbage, spinach, gem squash, marrows, mashed potatoes, carrots) can be whizzed into soup: fry an onion, toss in all the leftovers, add stock and maybe half a tin of chopped tomatoes, lots of herbs, garlic when papa isn’t looking, and blend. A stick blender is useful, but a fork and a strong arm will do the job.

Every now and again, I make “everything but the kitchen sink” soup, aka Worthy Minestrone. I round up the contents of the fridge, and add tomatoes, beans and pasta.

Every now and again, I make “everything but the kitchen sink” soup, aka Worthy Minestrone. I round up the contents of the fridge, and add tomatoes, beans and pasta.

More “intact” food (bits of chicken, sausages, cooked peas, beans, corn — along with cooked butternut, pumpkin, broccoli and cauli if not too soft, in which case, see soup above) can be sliced into salads, turned into sandwich fillings or (when all else fails) eaten cold with a dollop of mayonnaise. Hint: if you roast your veggies, they make wonderful salad ingredients the next day. To keep things interesting, put at least one fresh or new thing on the table as well.

So nothing edible in our house ever went into a bin: and if there were scraps, they went into the dogs’ bowls, the compost heap (and for several heady years, the resident pig). Thirty years on a smallholding nearly an hour from a town with shops also ingrained the very sensible habit of finishing the food in the house (barring a few staples) before replenishing supplies. And the spuds and cabbage from the veg garden were stand-bys, as well as fresh and delicious.

The holy trinity, both for reinventing leftovers and livening up carbs and legumes: onion, garlic, tinned tomatoes or tomato paste. I’d add a fourth: chillies. (And a handful of fresh herbs from that windowsill pot: mint, rosemary, basil, parsley, thyme, dhanya, wild rocket, garlic chives, lovage.) Millions of families do this routinely to stretch from payday to payday.

Avoiding food waste takes planning and thought, however, along with regular investigation of the fridge, the freezer (if you have one), and the pantry. You have to think 24 hours ahead, and plan menus. We’ve all been hearing about how women are saddled with what’s known as “emotional labour” even in households where domestic chores are supposedly shared. I sometimes wonder if one of the many things causing food waste is that women are fed up being the ones who have to remember to defrost the bolognaise sauce that’s been in the freezer for two months, and then check that there’s spaghetti to go with it. Since my papa’s retirement fifteen years ago, I’ve been most impressed at how both my parents have taken responsibility for shopping, food planning, and the composition of meals known as “seek and ye shall find”.

But the real expert on how to use your leftovers and fridge contents in the most economical but deliciously epicurian ways is my friend Megan Kerr. She has worked out a system so meticulous and scientific, it should win awards. It certainly delights the Food Gods. You can find it here; plus her blog has lots of excellent leftover ideas, all of which look delicious.

I may not be able to rise to Megan’s heights, but it’s from her that I learned to keep my fridge organised. This helps prevent that infuriating but familiar experience of finding something quietly mutating into a new life-form while lurking behind a jar of olives. Just making sure that the tallest things stand at the back, with the rest of the contents ranked by height, helps. Every other day, I open all the drawers/flaps to remind myself of what needs using up.

Bits of hardening cheese are grated, then frozen. Stale bread can be whirred into breadcrumbs (good for thickening soups and sauces) or turned into croutons. Or just toast. Elderly tomatoes can be roughly chopped and gently fried with lots of garlic and basil — they turn into a chunky sauce that can be frozen just about forever.

Baby tomatoes: snacks AND sauces.

Baby tomatoes: snacks AND sauces.

I’m no great jam-maker (too much sugar, too much fussing over pectin and jelling), but nearly all fruit can be turned into chutney or sauces for either sweet or savoury dishes (my plum and cardamon sauce is excellent with cheese, veggie burgers and pork — and also makes great ice cream). Ripe bananas can be peeled and frozen, then whizzed straight into smoothies. Wrinkly apples: peel, core and simmer with cinnamon, ginger and a spoonful of honey or brown sugar — the resulting fruit sauce can be spooned onto cereals or stirred into yoghurt. Berries and tropical fruits like paw-paw and mangoes can be blended with yoghurt or milk, as for smoothies, and then frozen. If you whir them up again before they’ve completely defrosted, you get rather nice slushies.

Buy only small amounts of green stuff like lettuce and cucumber that go off quickly (although one can make lettuce soup), and I turn cucumber into tzatziki as fast as I can, after which it keeps for five days or more.

As with many things, Google is your friend. If you have an unusual array of leftovers or pantry items, you can run them all into the search bar, and then add “recipe” — and see what comes up. This can be quite an adventure.

What are your best tips to avoid trashing food? Let me know!

Helen Moffett
1001 Water-and waste-wise ways: A bit of a rant about food waste
Salad leaves from the veggie patch. Fed by my compost, so a cycle…

Salad leaves from the veggie patch. Fed by my compost, so a cycle…

Researching waste is turning me into a misanthropist, and today I need to get a little rant off my chest.

I was working in a coffee shop the other day, at a communal table shared with two young women eating breakfast. One sent back half her meal uneaten; the other barely touched an enormous order. She ate one egg. Back to the kitchen went the toast, the butter, the jam, the tomatoes, a second egg, the cheese she’d ordered separately, the bacon, the potato. The waiter actually asked if anything had been wrong with the meal: no, it had been “delicious”.

My question is this: if all she’d wanted was an egg, why the sam hill didn’t she order just that? When did we get so blasé about wasting food? Why has it become ethically normative to ask people often earning minimum wages to prepare us luxury meals which we then expect them to chuck in the bin after we’ve taken a few bites?

Most especially, why do folk let their children do this? I’ve lost track of how often I’ve seen tweens slurp down most of a milkshake and then take one listless nibble of their burger and chips before pushing their plate away. What happened to the rule of “No sweets/treats until you’ve finished your main meal”? And even writing these words, I’m aware that my hair is winding into a bun and my mouth wrinkling into a prune. I DON’T CARE. This Mother Grundy has a bug up her nose.

I once tackled a twelve-year-old who’d just thrown away a can of Coke after taking one swig, and was told that it wasn’t as if he could give “poor people” his discarded drink. He had zero awareness of what it cost the planet and other human beings, in terms of water, materials, energy and transport, to make the can of fizzy syrup he’d just contributed to local landfill. And that reminds me of the relative visiting from the UK who took one bite of a takeaway meal, pronounced it disgusting, and threw it into a public bin IN FRONT OF small children who were begging for food. When asked why he hadn’t offered it to them, the answer was that “it would have been patronising.” Yep, being forced to scrabble in that garbage bin really safeguarded the dignity of those kids.

I could go on. Why are some people embarrassed when I put my leftovers into a Tupperware or ask for a doggie bag? (Tupperware is a great solution to the problem, imported from the US, of “portion distortion”.) I am at best what a friend calls a demi-vegetarian, but every time I see people chucking away meat, I have to restrain myself. “An animal DIED so that you could have it lying on your plate,” I want to snap. “Could you at least show a little respect?”

We waste many things, but food waste hits a nerve like no other. I’m seething about this because it’s the time of year that appeals for Christmas/holiday food parcels for vulnerable families, invalids and pensioners go out (I used to write these for Breadline Africa). This is to supply needy folk with such luxuries as cooking oil, rice, maize-meal, baked beans, teabags and GASP, a whole tin of jam (sorry, I’m too rattled to switch off the sarcasm font). The Oasis appeal noted that courtesy of inflation, drought, petrol price hikes, etc, their standard parcel had risen from costing around R500 to R600 in one year. It includes such treats as 1 X tin of fish (pilchards). This while the rich are scarfing down pistachio-brandy mince pies. No wait, that’s still OK, sort of – it’s when the rich toy with a mince pie and then throw it into the bin that I get red spots in front of my eyes.

I know it’s become hugely politically incorrect to urge people to finish what’s on their plates, so here’s a new rule: don’t put it on your plate unless you want it all. Think of it this way: your host or family member has made a delicious meal. You dish up, then ceremoniously scrape some of it into the trash before tucking in. Breathtakingly rude as well as insanely wasteful? How is this different from doing it at the end of a meal?

One of the things I learned researching water was how much of it goes into growing and preparing food. That alone is good reason not to waste food.

Look, I am not advocating parsimony and austerity (dangerously close to “playing” at being poor, in any case). There’s not a human culture or society since the beginning of time that hasn’t celebrated happy occasions with banquets and fermented liquids. It’s a wonderful, comforting and joyous thing to do.

So my next post will be about the many constructive ways we can avoid wasting food (it takes a bit of planning and practice), but here’s a start (and now I’m going to sound super-traditional): say grace before a meal. Yes, even if you’re a hard-core atheist. Stop and THINK before you pick up your spoon. Consider all the elements that went into making what’s on your plate, that everyday magic of air, water, soil, seeds, crops, animals, labour, loving hands and care. Breathe. Enjoy the aromas. And give thanks. It will make us all more mindful and thoughtful eaters.

Home-made tomato and basil soup.

Home-made tomato and basil soup.




Helen Moffett
1001 Water- and waste-wise ways: The Great Consumer Frenzy
Picture chosen for its soothing qualities: taken on a Thanksgiving weekend I spent in a tiny New England village three years ago.

Picture chosen for its soothing qualities: taken on a Thanksgiving weekend I spent in a tiny New England village three years ago.

So it’s Black Friday (I understand the genesis of the name, but it doesn’t make it any less unfortunate, if not downright tasteless), and all over the world, credit cards are melting.

I’ll never forget my first encounter with Black Friday (although it wasn’t yet called that) in the US. I had spent Thanksgiving with American friends in the wilds of a tiny exquisite island off the coast of Maine, and three of us were driving back to Massachusetts. Stopping for petrol, we noticed a gift “outlet store” on the far side of the freeway — a factory shop big enough to house planes in. Even bigger was the parking lot, jammed as far as the eye could see, with literally thousands of shoppers streaming in. Shuttle buses were running from one end to the other to scoop up those daunted by the thought of having to walk a few hundred yards. Special golf carts carried the elderly and the obese. Synthetic perfume from countless scented candles wafted across the highway. My friends explained to me that the day after Thanksgiving marked the beginning of the Christmas shopping season — and this was what “open season” in America looked like.

In past years, I’ve frothed about how we should boycott yet another commercial calendar event imported from the US and shoehorned into our lifestyles and cultures. But in the last few days, I’ve found myself trawling the web, thinking “Maybe it might be a good day to replace the 25-year-old mattress that’s making my back ache.” For those on tight budgets who’ve been saving to replace an elderly household appliance like a fridge or stove, Black Friday might indeed be very useful.

But the frenzy to buy, buy, buy stuff, almost all of it on credit, seems a particularly stark sort of madness in the light of the research I’m doing on waste. The more I read, the more my hair stands on end as I see the connections between the global shift of capitalist production from thrift to a throwaway consumer culture — and trashing the planet. “Jobs!” “Growth!” “The economy!” shriek the politicians and the corporates, bent on extracting a few measly years of profit at any cost from unique, life-sustaining ecosystems that have developed over millennia, and which will take centuries to heal from our depredations. Worse, so few of the projects dangled in front of us as “job creation” do what they promise: offer secure employment at decent wages and with safe working conditions, other than for a small group at the top.

But this always happens: the more I look for handy tips on recycling and waste-free living, the more my research takes me up against a bleak and often terrifying coalface, with flocks of canaries as far as the eye can see shrieking “Danger! Danger! STOP THIS BEFORE WE ALL DIE HORRIBLY!” At which my blood pressure soars and I have to go for a walk and watch swallows wheeling through clouds of midges and evening light pouring honey all over the mountains. Which takes me back to the determination to do something, anything, so that the next generation actually has breathable air.

Meanwhile, I was struck by a phrase I found that described the ways in which we relate to and store stuff: “organised hoarding”. And it occurred to me that one way to change Black Friday into Green Friday would be to take an hour today to clear out our cupboards — of stuff we don’t need or haven’t used in a while. Then another half-hour on the web researching local charities and NPOs that will come and haul our goods away. The good folk at the Saartjie Baartman Centre tell me that they take ANYTHING. Any NPO that has clothing, bric-a-brac or book stores will be thrilled if you take them a carload of stuff that’s literally a waste of your space: just in my neighbourbood, there’s TEARS, Help The Rural Child, hospice shops and more. And I always like to give Oasis a mention — they recycle AND provide employment for intellectually disabled adults (plus their bakery in Imam Haron Road sells great chocolate shortbread).

Stop and take some time to think today. By all means, get your kids’ sports equipment and uniforms for next year if buying them today will truly save your pennies. But please consider getting rid of stuff, instead of buying more and more and more more more more. And that goes for that consumer nightmare impatiently revving its engines off-stage — Christmas. But that’s a topic for another blog. Now please excuse me: I’m going to check mattress prices online.

Another soothing pic from a Maine Thanksgiving.

Another soothing pic from a Maine Thanksgiving.

Helen Moffett