Archive for Green News

Treasure in unlikely places

Yesterday, I visited a local dump site with my partner Michelle and community coordinator, Winston.

We will be launching a community clean up project in the area surrounding the site on 15th November 2011.

We spoke to the locals living and working on the site, not only we they amused that I wanted the plastic bottles, roofing and grain bags, they were impressed with the idea that I would teach them how to create products out of the rubbish.

I’m so excited to start working in this community.

Created with help of my dustbin, Hayleigh

Leave a comment »

Effortless watering

I’m all for time-saving, eco-friend, low cost, diy, etc.  So with us moving towards using less and reusing what we have used, I found a really nice idea to help me water our gardens.

These little bottles will also help me teach my boys to save water and water plants wisely.

Leave a comment »

Water Weeds are killing our river

Our local newspaper, the Daily Dispatch, run this article this morning.

Deadly weeds choke Nahoon river – A noxious water weed is once again choking the life out of the Nahoon River, which is home to myriad species including bass, geese, fish eagles and otters. Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), one of the world’s worst aquatic weeds, first threatened the river’s ecosystem last year. Now the out-of-control alien plant has blanketed large stretches of the river, with the worst outbreak occurring near the causeway that links Dorchester Heights to the Stutterheim road.

Residents living along the river bank have now questioned the municipality’s efforts in keeping one of East London’s most popular rivers unpolluted. Joan Hempel, whose farm borders the river, said: “I am dismayed at the state of the Nahoon River. The rapid growth and spread of the hyacinth has already affected the wildlife. “It seems the entire ecosystem is being choked and destroyed by this alien invader plant.” Hempel has sent numerous reports to the Department of Water Affairs hoping to pressure government to act.

“To date no one has responded or reacted to my report. I was hoping to alert them to the alarming spread of the plant. Andrew Lucas, Department of Water Affairs provincial director of water regulation and use, said clearing invasive alien plants was the responsibility of land owners. Lucas said if the land belonged to the municipality, it was the responsibility of the Working For Water team. “I have not investigated the areas myself but the influx usually stems from residents,” he said.

Lucas said residents used the weed, which has a beautiful purple flower, to decorate their ponds and water features. “When it starts to overgrow they dump it in the river.” According to Lucas this reinfects the river system and the problem starts all over again. The water hyacinth has caused a decline in fish populations in Africa. – Taken from Dispatch.co.za  15/02/2011

Ok, so if Water Affairs doesn’t want to help the river then what?  A classic case of passing the buck, our politicians are very good at doing that.  Pity they are not as good at anything else.

I found this info on Wikipedia…

When not controlled, water hyacinth will cover lakes and ponds entirely; this dramatically impacts water flow, blocks sunlight from reaching native aquatic plants, and starves the water of oxygen, often killing fish (or turtles). The plants also create a prime habitat for mosquitos, the classic vectors of disease, and a species of snail known to host a parasitic flatworm which causes schistosomiasis (snail fever).

Solution – I will definitely be sending our political parties a strong email.  What nonsense is this passing the buck, if it isn’t your mandate then help us to get the right people in to fix the problem.  Be part of the solution, Don’t add to it – silly man.

Wikipedia’s article has some interesting results at the end…

Industrial utilization

Since the plant has abundant nitrogen content, it can be used a substrate for biogas production and the sludge obtained from the biogas. However, due to easy accumulation of toxins, the plant is prone to get contaminated when used as feed.

Exogenous

The plant is extremely tolerant of, and has a high capacity for, the uptake of heavy metals, including Cd, Cr, Co, Ni, Pb and Hg, which could make it suitable for the biocleaning of industrial wastewater [7], [8], [9], [10]. In addition to heavy metals, Eichhornia crassipes can also remove other toxins, such as cyanide, which is environmentally beneficial in areas that have endured gold mining operations [11].

Water hyacinth is also observed to enhance nitrification in waste water treatment cells of living technology. Their root zones are superb micro-sites for bacterial communities.[12]

Food for thought – this weed is not all bad, it’s just not any good in our Nahoon river.  An import bit of information, that I will include in my emails.

Comments (3) »

Re-think your tampon

I hate throwing away money on disposable items, paper cups, plates, serviette etc are all horribly wasteful and such a waste of money.  I spend well over R300.00 a month on tampons and pads every month during my period.  I hate that thought, I am 28, I started my periods at 13, so for the last 15 years, I have spent a staggering R54 000.00 on flushing things down the toilet.

What a waste of money and resources!

Never one to pose a question without offering a variety of solutions, I found a local answer to a universal problem, Miacup.  It is a menstral cup which I have read about on the web, however there was no company in SA offering this product.  Until I found Miacup.  “Produced entirely in South Africa using imported medical-grade, latex-free silicone rubber, Miacup is a great new alternative to menstrual pads and tampons.”

This little wonder product can be used for years and because your initial outlay is a once-off payment – R340.00, you don’t have to run off to the shops every month to stock up.

An added bonus, there are no harmful chemicals, no fluff, plastic or wrapping to cause damage to your body, eliminating the chance of TSS, fungal infections and general bad ingredients finding their way into your very private places. 

Something to think about when next you visit your tampon box…

Comments (3) »

Herbs, Herbs, Herbs

I found this really great, fun site http://www.phuthu.co.za  It is a local SA site with some really awesome pics and interesting stories.  If my browser wasn’t so slow, I would look through the whole site just to see the rest of it.  There are some really useful tips on herbs.  I know we can get most of them at nurseries in SA, I’m not sure about the rest of the world.  When in doubt, ask at your local nursery…

Herbs – Culinary uses and more…

Basil
Basil is one of the most versatile herbs with sweet basil being the most commonly grown. It needs average soil, sun and semi-shade and is frost sensitive.

Culinary uses: Pasta sauces, stews, soups, salads, pizzas or blend basil with pine nuts to make pesto. It goes very well with tomatoes.

Medicinal uses: It is quite useful for exhaustion and digestive upsets such as stomach cramps, constipation and diarrhoea. Drink basil tea to relieve tension and migraines or rub the fresh leaves on your temples for headaches. Crushed basil leaves can be used to take the sting out of insect bites.

Cosmetic uses: Crushed basil leaves will stimulate hair growth. Use in bath oils.

Other uses: Bunches of fresh basil hung in the kitchen will keep flies away. Dried basil stalks burnt on a fire can keep the mozzies away.

Lemon Grass
Lemon grass can grow in any soil and doesn’t need a lot of water. It is inactive during the winter months and sensitive to frost. Parts used: The stems, leaves and essential oils.

Culinary uses: Soups, marinades, stir-fries, curries, salads, coconut milk, rice and as an alternative for lemon rind and to flavour tea’s and drinks. The stems can be kept in the fridge for 2 – 3 weeks if wrapped in a paper bag or wax wrapped.

Medicinal uses: Used in a tea it has a calming effect and can soothe the digestive system and relieve stress.

Cosmetic uses: Makes a good facial steam for teenage skin. Great for treating an oily skin or oily hair: one cup of fresh lemon grass and two cups of boiling water.

Other uses: Insect repellent.

Rosemary
Rosemary will grow in most types of soil but prefers light, sandy soil with good drainage and a sunny spot. It can tolerate cold temperatures. Rosemary has more fragrance if you pick it and leave it for a few days. Rosemary and sage are good friends and will grow well together.

Culinary uses: Meat (especially lamb), bean and tomato dishes (use sparingly as it’s a strong herb). Use the twigs for kebab skewers.

Medicinal uses: Drink as a tea for migraines and cramps. Also treats blood pressure problems, jaundice, vertigo, gout, aching joints, obesity and toothache. Use the oil externally as an antiseptic for sores and wounds.

Cosmetic uses: Good rinse for dark hair, can reduce falling hair and treat eczema on the scalp. Use as a mouthwash and facial steam. Known to remove freckles and wrinkles: Boil 50g flowering rosemary tips in 500ml white wine for 2 minutes. Leave to stand for 1 hour, strain and apply to your face with cotton wool twice a day.

Other uses: Fish moth repellent in cupboards/drawers. The stems will keep your linen smelling fresh or keep mozzies away when tossed in a fire.

Chilli
Chillies are easy to grow and varies from very hot to mild. It requires full sun and rich well drained soil. Water frequently, especially when in flower. Feed with a liquid fertiliser once a week; sensitive to frost. Parts used: Fruit.

Culinary uses: Add to chutneys, pickles, Indian, Mexican and Thai dishes and of course on pizzas!

Medicinal uses: eases digestive problems, chronic pain and cluster headaches.

Rocket
A herb you either love or hate. It likes loose, rich, composted, well-drained soil. Water it well in dry weather, although the roots must not be saturated. Withstands frost, summer storms and cold winds. Parts used: Leaves, seedpods and flowers. Can be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Culinary uses: Soups and stews, salads, sandwiches, sauces, marinades, garnish. Particularly good with tomatoes.

 Medicinal uses: It’s a great tonic, can be used as a cough remedy when boiled in honey, prevents colds and treats fluid retention, anaemia, digestive upsets and bladder ailments.

Other uses: Treat skin blemishes and makes a refreshing foot bath. Can be used as plant food. Add to compost heap or plant around your compost heap.

Mint
Don’t let it loose in your herb garden, it takes over, rather plant it in a pot, not too small. It should be repotted yearly, preferably in spring and watered daily. It needs sun / partial shade, moderate temperatures and rich, well drained alkaline soil. Keep different types of mint apart; prevent interbreeding by keeping the flowering heads cut. Peppermint and spearmint are the two most widely used mints.

Culinary uses: Sauces, jellies, vinegar, green peas, potatoes, garnish or use as a refreshing tea (avoid jewel mint or pennyroyal as they are bitter). Goes well with lamb dishes.

Medicinal uses: Pennyroyal should not be used by anyone suffering from kidney problems or by pregnant women, use other mints instead. Colds and congestion: Pour a litre of boiling water over a cup of fresh mint springs, cover your head and the bowl with a towel and inhale. Make a peppermint tea to help digestion, colds and influenza. Crush the leaves in oil and massage the affected areas for migraines, rheumatism and muscular aches. Use peppermint oil on bruises and scratches.

Cosmetic uses: As a hair conditioner for oily hair, and it can heal rough/dry hands and feet. Add to bathwater to easy tiredness and aches and pains.

Other: Pennyroyal in cupboards and beds as an insect repellent for ants and fleas. Bunches of mint in your kitchen will keep flies away. Peppermint can be rubbed into the skin to keep mozzies away (test on the wrist first).

Parsley
Parsley needs a sunny spot and rich, moist soil. Parts used: leaves and stalks. Don’t grow parsley close to tomatoes or roses to keep them free of insects.

Culinary uses: Soups, stews, sauces, garnishing.

Medicinal uses: Parsley tea treats kidney and bladder infections and can be used as a slimming aid. Don’t take more than one cup a day and don’t use for more than 5 days. Parsley juice can have a soothing effect on eye inflammation and conjunctivitis. It has oestrogenic factors: control menstruation and help menopause. Crushed, warmed leaves will treat insect bites.

 Other uses: Breath freshener after eating onions or garlic.

Herbs: Medicinal uses and more

Aloe Vera
Sunny spot with poor, well drained soil. Grows best in frost free areas. Aloe can be grown in a pot and only the herbs older than 2 years should be used for its properties.

Medicinal uses: Healing of wounds: burns, blisters, sunburn, heat rash. Aloe is known to stimulate the immune system, treats constipation, indigestion, eczema and fungal infections like ringworm and thrush. It should not be used by anyone suffering from piles.

 Cosmetic uses: Can be used in a moisturising cream, shampoos (for dry and itchy scalp) and in suntan lotion.

Chamomile
These pretty flowers makes for powerful medicine. Camomile is easy to grow and likes partial shade and light as well as well drained soil. Pick the flowers often to lengthen its spring life. A great companion for most plants.

Culinary uses: Add chamomile tea to granadilla juice for a relaxing drink, can be served as an after-dinner drink to ease indigestion.

Medicinal uses: Relieves stress, anxiety and digestive problems, improves immunity, treat inflammations of the skin and other skin disorders (surgical wounds), diarrhoea, insomnia, headaches and in babies: colic, vomiting, teething problems, restlessness.

Cosmetic uses: Can makes hair lighter and promotes hair growth. Use in a facial steam or a soak to soften hands. Add to your bath for a relaxing treat or to soothe sunburn.

Lemon Balm
Needs filtered shade and rich, moist soil. Dies down in winter and needs to be cut back hard to encourage new spring growth.

Culinary uses: Teas, soup, milk, custard, sauces, fruit salads, refreshing drinks, puddings, poultry, fish and cheese dishes. It compliments cucumber, celery and asparagus. Freeze in ice cubes to decorate drinks.

 Medicinal uses: Treats insomnia, herpes and digestive problems, cold sores, eczema, depression, anxiety, fear and improves concentration. Soothes insect bites.

 Cosmetic uses: Use in a facial steam (it apparently slows down the aging process!) and improves oily hair. Mix with aqueous cream to soothe aching feet.

 Other uses: Bunches of lemon balm will deter moths. Use green leaves to polish wooden furniture.

Southernwood
This herb needs full sun and grow in any soil although it prefers it dry. Parts to use: leaves and sprigs. If planted near fruit trees it will repel fruit flies and fruit moths.

Medicinal uses: It treats menstrual disorders and has antiseptic properties (rashes, scratches and grazes). Use as a bitter tonic: coughs, bronchitis, mucus, congestion. Eases pain and swelling.

Cosmetic: Use as a rinse for greasy hair, when combed through hair it can stimulate hair growth.

Other: Potent flea and moth repellent. Very effective in potpourris. Sprinkle dried, powdered Southernwood around ant holes to combat ants.

Feverfew
Easy to grow and needs full sun. Parts to use: Whole plant and leaves.

Medicinal uses: A powerful migraine preventive, treats digestive problems, relaxes spasms, reduces fever, has laxative effects, deals with menstrual problems and relieves period pain. Take Southernwood after childbirth to encourage the cleansing of the uterus.

Other uses: Mouth rinse, household disinfectant, moth / insect repellent.

Lavender
Plant lavender in containers (small batches) as it has the tendency of taking over. It likes a sunny spot and dry, well drained soil. Can be badly affected by frost; cover the lavender with grass.

Culinary uses: Flavour jams and vinegar. Great addition to marinades for game. Use crystallised flowers for garnish.

Medicinal uses: In oil as antiseptic for insect bites and stings. A lavender-stuffed pillow aids sleep and will calm a restless child. Lavender tea will treat headaches and relieve anxiety. Lavender water makes a great mouthwash.

Cosmetic: Treats acne. Use oil for massaging muscular aches and cellulite.

Other: Insect repellent: it will repel fish moths and draw butterflies. The leaves and flowers can be used in little netting sachets to keep your linen smelling fresh. Dried lavender leaves and flowers can be used for potpourri. Place on fires in winter for a lovely scent. Spread your washing over your lavender bushes for a lasting fresh smell.

Leave a comment »

How to Make Caterpillar Repellent

How to Make Caterpillar Repellent

Theses nasty little buggers have eaten my plants to tatters – not even my succulents are safe!  I found this very easy recipe on eHow, take a look…

Caterpillars dislike the smell of orange. Public DomainButterflies are beautiful but long before they turn into those lighter than air nectar eaters, they are caterpillars. In order for those lovely butterflies to come around come spring time, they need to eat and more often than not it’s your vegetable garden they want to dine on. Just follow this quick easy guideline to make an organic caterpillar repellent that not only repels little squirmers but has a pleasant orange smell.

Instructions

Things You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup of chopped orange peels
  • ¼ cup of boiling water
  • Cheesecloth
  • Mist sprayer

    How to Make Caterpillar Repellent

  1. Put the orange peels in a blender or food processor. Actually any citrus fruit will work because the caterpillar is repelled by the scent and it has the add advantage of having a pleasant aroma for humans
  2. Pour the boiling water over the Orange peels. The boiling water will help to extract the important citrus oils.
  3. Liquefy the entire mixture and allow it to sit overnight at room temperature. Cover the mixture to help control evaporation.
  4. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth and pour the liquid into a hand held mist sprayer.
  5. Fill the remaining space in the sprayer with warm water.
  6. Spray your plants. Start at the bottom and enjoy the scent.


Read more: How to Make Caterpillar Repellent | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2304735_make-caterpillar-repellent.html#ixzz1ChB1k5ww

Leave a comment »

DIY Natural Paint :-)

I found this awesome recipe on http://www.diylife.com.   Looking for a gentle alternative to chemical-based interior paint? Stir up this simple, four-ingredient recipe. Milk paint transformed this old cassette cabinet into a charming powder room organizer for storing towels, tissues, and toiletries.

homemade paint

Cavemen did it. The early Egyptians did it. American Colonists did it. And even today, many people are rediscovering the art of making interior paint for the home. In an age of store-bought paints with high performance finishes, you may ask yourself, why make paint?

 For me, it’s the natural, handcrafted look — along with the satisfaction of being self-reliant. For others, it may be because homemade paint is the greenest and least toxic alternative possible to traditional paint. Homemade paints aren’t based upon petrochemicals and they’re far less toxic than commercial paints — even the many zero-VOC paints now emerging on the market.

 The ingredients for homemade paints vary. This recipe consists of lime, water, pigment, and milk.  The easiest to make and least expensive homemade paints consist of milk, lime, and pigment. For additional body a filler, such as chalk powder or plaster can be added. My preferred recipe is simplicity itself: —

homemade paint

Hydrated lime (available at most home and garden supply stores)
Water 
Pigment (powder or liquid)
Whole milk (at room temperature)

homemade paint

Mix lime with water using a putty knife or plastic spatula.
1. Fill a container with one to two cups of hydrated lime. Gradually add water and stir until you have a thick paste.
2. In a separate container, do the same with the pigment powder. For a small batch like this, 2 to 4 tablespoons of pigment is typically sufficient. 3. Gradually add milk to the lime paste until you achieve the consistency of sour cream. Then add the pigment paste and mix thoroughly.

Safety tip: Despite the relative low toxicity of the ingredients, wear vinyl gloves and a dust mask when working with lime and pigment.
Gradually stir milk into the lime paste until you achieve a consistency of loose sour cream.

homemade paint

ADDING PIGMENTS TO HOMEMADE PAINT You can buy pigmentsat many hardware and artist supply stores. Avoid using pigments made from toxic compounds, otherwise you’ll defeat the purpose of making your own paint. Some common toxins used in pigments include cadmium, lead, mercury, and cobalt.

You will have to experiment with pigments to achieve the color you want. Be sure to buy plenty of white pigment, as you’ll be using a lot of it. It comes in two forms: titanium dioxide and zinc. The former is a bit more opaque. You can make many of your own colorants using natural ingredients but the process is a lot more time-consuming than making paint alone.

Also, the colors produced through home-brewed dyes are more subtle than store-bought pigments. If you do want to make homemade pigment, try these methods:

Add water to steel wool for a red rust coloring.
Try simmering everything from berries and vegetables to bark and leaves to create the dyes. Blackberries, for example, make a strong dye. — Brew coffee or many tea to create neutral tones.
Boil peach or crab apple leaves for greens.
Use store-bought juice concentrates, such as blueberry and cranberry, to create pleasing tints.
Use a natural bristle brush to apply the milk paint, and allow it to dry for a few hours before recoating.

homemade paint

ADDITIONAL TIPS ABOUT HOMEMADE PAINT — Milk paint is not as scrubbable as its commercial cousins. In areas subject to spills, apply a protective coat of shellac or oil finish. If you choose the latter, stay green with a plant oil-based finish. — The shelf life for milk paint is short. Store unused paint in the refrigerator. It can be used until the milk sours. Brushes clean easily with soap and water

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: