2J – Useful ‘green’ tips

Supporting article J: Useful tips on “How to become more green”.

Waste Hierarchy

Reduce is the first tier of the Waste Management Hierarchy.

It promotes the concept of decreasing the quantity of waste that we produce. By consciously reducing the amount of waste we produce, we reduce the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of in less effective or less preferable ways.

By reducing our consumption we take steps to avoid wasting.

If waste is not initially generated it does not need to be disposed of. (However as we do generate waste, we need to be responsible in the way we dispose of it – reusing and recycling and composting before it makes its way to landfill.)

Before we even begin disposing of our waste and recycling we can take the first step in the green direction and reduce our consumption.

Reducing our waste by reducing our consumption has the following benefits:

•  Conserves the planet’s natural resources

•  Minimises pollution

•  Saves energy

•  Saves water

•  Decreases the impact of global warming and climate change.

•  Reduces the need for landfill

•  Saves money

Make a conscious effort to consume less. The more we have the more waste we create. The more we want, the more need there is to produce more products, creating more waste. So the first step in the green direction is to reduce our consumption.

•  Our landfills are filling up, and apart from the fact that they take up
precious land space, as the waste decomposes greenhouse gases that
contribute to global warming are created.

•  Factories produce more products, polluting our air and water, and also
create greenhouse gases.

•  Transport is needed to get our rubbish to the dump and is needed to get
our products from where they are manufactured to where we buy them.
This too produces greenhouse gases.

So while we enjoy the benefits of our consumer world, we should do so responsibly.

We can all make the effort and take the steps to alleviate the pressure on our planet.
Take a step in the green direction because going green works.

Shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, toothpaste, cream

•  Use half of what you normally use and see if it still does the job – add a
bit more if needed.

•  See how much longer your products last and how much you can save
from going down the drain.

•  Add some water to your bottled hand soap and dilute it. It’ll work just as

•  Squeeze your toothpaste tube right to the end.

•  Add a bit of water to your shampoo and conditioner when you’ve poured
the last bit out. The water will dilute that which is on the bottom and sides.
You’ll get one more dose out of the bottle.

•  Recycle the containers.

•  Use a small brush to use the end of the lipstick in the tube.
Cleaning Agents

•  Be conscious of the amount of product you use. We often use more than
we need.

•  Add water to your cleaning agents to dilute them, so they last longer.

•  Add water at the end so that you use everything in the container.

•  Buy refills so you reduce the amount of packaging – refills are also

•  Buy larger containers – this means that less packaging is wasted.
•  For example – buy a bulk size dishwashing liquid and decant into the
smaller or regular size one you already have.

Natural Cleaning Products

•  Conventional cleaning products are generally petroleum based and have
negative environmental and health consequences.

•  It’s time to change the way we clean!

•  There are many natural product options.

•  Either make your own cleaning products or purchase environmentally
friendly options that are non-toxic, biodegradable and made from
renewable resources (not petroleum).

Make Your Own

•  Create your own cleaning products using the following:

•  Bicarbonate soda (baking soda), lemon juice, vinegar, salt.

•  Experiment to see what works for you. A combination of these products
is suitable to clean most surfaces and areas of your home, including the
kitchen and bathroom.

•  Bicarbonate of Soda (also known as baking soda or sodium carbonate)
is an all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner.
•  It cleans, deodorises, removes stains and softens fabrics.

•  Lemon juice eats through grease and removes perspiration and other
stains from clothing.
•  It is an alternative to bleach.

•  Vinegar (acetic acid) eats through grease and removes stains.
•  It is a water softener.
•  Vinegar is acidic and can eat away at tile grout, so dilute appropriately.
Also don’t use vinegar on marble surfaces.

•  Salt (sodium chloride) is an abrasive.


•  Cornstarch starches clothes as well as absorbs grease and oil.

•  Borax (known as sodium borate) is a natural mineral that kills bacteria
and mould.
•  It is an alternative to bleach. It deodorises, removes stains and boosts
the cleaning power of soap.
•  Borax can be toxic to children and pets. Keep out of their reach!

•  Olive or citrus oil is a lubricant and good for polishing.

•  Organic apple cider vinegar is also a good vinegar to use.
•  Due to the possibility of staining it is better to use white vinegar on
products that could stain.

Cleaning Solutions

•  Mix lemon juice with vinegar and/or baking soda to make a cleaning paste.

•  Mix bicarb with lemon juice or vinegar and water to make a cleaning
spray. (see below for concentrations)

•  Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle bicarb on the cut section. Use the lemon
to scrub dishes, surfaces, and stains.

Window and glass cleaner
•  Mix ¼ cup of white vinegar with ¾ cup of hot water OR

•  Mix 1 litre of water, ¼ cup of vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

•  Put into a spray bottle and shake and use.

•  Spray a mixture of vinegar and water mix around rim.

•  Pour a cup of vinegar and some bicarb into the bowl.

•  Leave for 15 mins, then brush and flush.

•  Mix equal parts vinegar and water and spray onto the mould. Leave for 5
minutes and wipe clean OR

•  Pour bicarb onto the mould with a drop of water so it bubbles. Leave for a
bit and scrub with an old toothbrush or scrubbing brush.

•  Brass – create a polish by mixing an equal portion of flour and salt and
adding a little vinegar. Rub the brass object.

•  Chrome – clean with vinegar.

•  Copper – mix lemon juice or hot vinegar with salt to create a copper polish.

•  Silver – make a paste of bicarb and water. Use a cloth or toothbrush to
polish clean OR
•  Polish with toothpaste OR
•  Soak silver in salted water in an aluminium container with a piece of tin
foil in it OR
•  Soak silver in boiling water, baking soda, salt, and a piece of tin foil.

•  Stainless Steel – create a past of baking soda and water to polish stainless

Wooden floors & Furniture
•  There are a number of options so test them and see what works best for

•  Black tea is a good furniture polish.
•  Seep a few teabags in boiling water and wait until it cools.
•  Put the mixture into a clean sprayer bottle and shake well. Spray onto a
cloth and polish evenly.
•  You can use another clean cloth to polish the surface dry.

•  Dilute one cup of citrus oil in 3 ½ litres of hot water OR

•  Use a small amount of undiluted citrus oil to rub onto furniture OR

•  Mix lemon juice with 3 tablespoons of water and 2 teaspoons of olive oil


•  Mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with a few drops of oil OR

•  Mix 1 of cup olive oil with ½ of cup lemon juice OR

•  Mix ½ a cup of lemon juice with a teaspoon of olive oil OR

•  Mix a cup of olive oil and a 1/4 cup of white vinegar.

•  The vinegar pulls the dirt out of the wood, and the oil lubricates the wood.
(Use oils that have a longer shelf life)
•  Make a new mixture each time you polish so that the oil doesn’t goes

•  Use a soft lint free cloth or recycled cloth that can be reused instead of
paper towels when cleaning and polishing.

•  Use ¼ cup of bicarb instead of bleach
when doing your washing.

•  You can also add ¼ cup of white vinegar.

•  For dark colours use ¼ cup of white
vinegar and ¼ cup of salt.

•  Salt helps restore faded colours as well
as removes dirt.

•  Purchase Magnetic Wash balls and
avoid using washing powder all together!

•  Wipe up spills immediately with reusable cloths.

•  Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of salt to 1/2 a cup of
hot water.

•  Make a paste and wipe this around the oven. Heat the oven slightly, then
let it cool before wiping down with a damp cloth.

Fridges and Freezers
•  Wipe fridge and freezer seals with a cloth with vinegar or bicarb.

•  Maintain your seals.

•  Mix bicard with water to clean the inside.

Crockery and Cutlery
•  Handwash dishes with lemon juice and water.

Pots and Pans
•  Soak burnt pots and pans in bicarb and water before washing.

•  Prevention of blockages is better than curing them.

•  Avoid putting grease down your drain.

•  Rather put it in the garbage once it solidifies.

•  Pour boiling water down your drain to avoid grease plugs blocking your

•  Pour bicarb into your drains fairly regularly to prevent blockages.

•  Use a rubber plunger to release blockages. Be careful if your pipes are
corroded or rusted.

•  Avoid clogging your garbage disposal with large amounts of vegetable
peelings. Composting is a much better solution.

Dry Cleaning
•  Dry cleaning uses toxic materials. Look for a greener option. Handwashing
is preferable.

Step Inside
•  Put a mat outside all your doors to avoid bringing dirt and pollution into
your home via your shoes.

•  Less dirt means less cleaning – less use of cleaning materials and
vacuuming – which saves water, energy, cleaning products and chemicals.

•  Keep your bedrooms shoe free.

•  Keep rooms with carpets shoe free.

Building Clean
•  In addition to building using environmentally-friendly products, and with
energy- and water efficient designs, also build with cleanability in mind.

•  This will help save on the resources (products, energy, water and time)
needed to clean.

Other suggestions
•  Vinegar can be used to remove price labels from glass, wood, and china.

•  Put a small dish of bicarb in your fridge and freezer to absorb smells. Stir
every two weeks and replace every two months.

•  It’s also suitable to sprinkle on your carpets to absorb smells. Then
vacuum it up.

•  Add bicarb to water when cleaning your bins to neutralise odours.

•  Buy the ingredients in bulk to avoid excess packaging.

•  Make up batches and store in spray bottles.

•  Label your products clearly.

•  Add essential oils or herbs to your batches for fragrance.

•  Don’t put your toxic products into the garbage or down the drain. Rather
find a toxic waste disposal site. Check with your municipality for such a

•  Use rechargeable batteries, not only are they better for the environment
but they will save you money.

•  Purchase wind-up torches, radios and toys instead of battery operated

•  Use water based paint as these are more eco friendly than solvent paints.
Air fresheners

•  Plug in airfresheners are a waste of electricity.

•  If you use an aerosol spray make sure that it doesn’t contain CFCs.

•  Use incense.

•  Create your own airfresher – put drops of essential oil into a spray bottle
with some water and use this as air spray.

•  Put some oil into a little dish and leave in the room.

•  Use vanilla essence in a small dish as an airfreshner.

•  Until you use your refill fabric softener place it in a cubpboard or hidden in
a room. It’ll keep your room smelling great.

•  Boil cinnamon and cloves or other herbs to give your home a fresh smell.

•  Keep the mixture in a spray bottle.

•  Plants are also good for filtering the air in your home or office.

•  One teabag can make two cups of tea especially if you make it in a pot –
herbal teabags even more so than regular tea.

•  It says on the box that when you are making tea in a pot to use one per
person and one for the pot because the more teabags you use means that
more teabags are sold.
•  More packing is then used too. Buy in bulk.
Roller Towel

•  Resist using roller towel to clean up spills.

•  Rather use reusable cloths.

•  Cut up old t-shirts or clothes and use these as clothes. Reuse

Disposable Tableware

•  Although it is convenient, avoid using disposable plates, cups and cutlery.

•  If you are going to use it, select the type that is either recyclable or

Bottled Water

•  Avoid buying bottled water.

•  Refill your plastic water bottles instead of constantly buying new ones.

•  If you are going to buy bottled water – buy the largest container available
and refill your small bottles for ease of use.

•  Use a reusable drinking bottle and fill it with water or your beverage of
choice instead of buying bottled drinks or water.

If you have any more ideas please submit them to tip@greenworks.co.za