Monthly Archives: January 2016

Most Effective DIY Ways To Save Water

44An average household of four family members wastes about 300 litres of reusable water per day. South African water systems will not be able to cope for much longer, at the rate things are going. Here are some simple, and effective ways that you can save it without changing your lifestyle.

Researchers say that in less than 20 years, the water demand in South Africa will exceed the available resources. With the growing global population and the increasing demand on available water, South Africans could be looking at permanent water restrictions and penalties in the near future, if measures aren’t taken.

Municipal water used for gardening is estimated at 30-50% of the total domestic water use in South Africa. Let’s be honest, will you allow your beautiful green garden to dry out, and suffer in this heat? That’s why more people are reusing their grey water for gardening.

What is Grey Water?

Grey water is reusable water made up of that from the hand basin, bath, shower and washing machine, that can be used in the garden.

Experts say that many diluted soap residues can provide useful sulphates and nitrates which is more beneficial to plants than clean tap water.

This way, you can save money on costs, ensure your garden has a constant water supply, and reduce impact on drinking water resources.

How to make your own grey water system:

The most cost-effective, easiest DIY method to do this, is to make an adjustment to the grey water pipe, in order to direct the water into the tank.

What you need: 1000L IBC Water Storage Tank, some PVC connectors and extension pipes

Estimated Cost: R300 – R500


Use more biodegradable detergents with your washing.

Reuse water within 2-3 days to eliminate the growth of bacteria and water odours.

Don’t constantly focus on the same area, move the sprinkler around the garden.

Improve the quality of your grey water by using environmentally friendly haircare and body products and soaps.

Bacteria takes longer to grow in moving water. If you can’t use the water fast enough, try installing a grey water pump system or otherwise put in a bit of chlorine instead, but it’s not advisable to use on a regular basis.

Clean the tank on a regular basis to prevent bacteria from growing inside.

It’s advisable to have a grey water filter system to stop the lint and hair from going out. The most cost-effective way to make a filter is to use a sock or nylon stocking at on the end of your drainage pipe which can be discarded afterwards.

Advantages of Green Homes for Owners

eGreen homes have a number of features that make them energy efficient. Many owners feel good about green construction because they have a smaller carbon footprint than those constructing traditional houses.

Healthier Interior

Conventional construction will not produce the same interior environment present in green homes. In general, people living in environmentally friendly domiciles experience better air quality. This occurs for a number of reasons.

– Moisture and mold problems are common with standard houses. However, proper sealing and ventilation in green homes prevent moisture from developing. If moisture does occur, drying is swift due to effective ventilation techniques. Environmentally conscious design focuses on building methods that combine barriers and insulation into one effective material instead of a multitude of layers that could cause problems.

– Radon mitigation systems installed in these residences prevents radon gas from accumulating in the soil around the structure. An absence of radon gas is healthier because radon gas is associated with the development of lung cancer.

– Construction products that do not emit volatile organic compounds help create a healthier environment inside the house. These products include paint, adhesives, and cleaners. VOCs have been linked to headaches, nausea and vomiting, eye and throat irritation, and asthma symptoms.

Durability of Resources

The crux of sustainability is designing things and using materials that will last as long as possible. With this purpose in mind, sustainable building materials are designed to last as long as possible with minimum maintenance. The materials used to build these types of houses are exceptionally durable. Homeowners typically expend less time and energy maintaining their residences. This also translates into less money spent in common maintenance. Replacements won’t be necessary as often with an environmentally friendly structure. Roofing materials last longer, which means that warranties tend to last for as long as 50 years on a project. Recycled materials usually last much longer than conventional ones because they generally aren’t painted or treated. Pests such as termites are not attracted to some of the materials used in these houses, including western red cedar, redwood, and black locust.

Quicker Return on Investment

Saving money on both construction and ongoing expenses generally means that homeowners will see a faster return on investment. Heating and cooling bills will be lower, which saves money in the long run. Energy bills are less expensive because of the tighter construction seals, properly sized HVAC systems to match the square footage of the residence, and better framing techniques that allow the use of more insulation between studs. Green homes also use less water, which saves money. High-efficiency appliances and more efficient plumbing systems contribute to less water and lower expenses. Better landscaping techniques also require less water to maintain outdoor areas.

Positive Impact on the Earth

Using less energy and renewable forms of energy is better for the Earth. These features involve less reliance on fossil fuels and more use of renewable types of energy such as water, solar, and wind. Even the construction process involved in building these homes is less damaging to the environment. The use of recycled materials in construction also has a far-reaching impact on the environment because of the lower emissions involved in manufacturing the materials.

Lessen your impact on the environment by investing in a green home.

How to Properly Recycle Aerosol Cans

deToday, recycling is common practice. Many municipalities provide recycling cans for free. Some ever offer incentives to get more people to recycle. Most people are aware of what they can and cannot recycle, with one exception: aerosol cans. Aerosol cans are made from either aluminum or steel, which means they are 100% recyclable (even cans that were used to dispense pesticides). However, there’s a bit more to it than just throwing it in a recycling bin and putting it out by the curb for pick up.

Here’s how to properly recycle an aerosol can.

1. Use the entire product
If no product comes out when you press down on the actuator, then the aerosol can is empty. There may still be remnants of the product left, but it will be disposed of by the staff of the recycling center. When the can is empty, it can be recycled like any other aluminum or steel product.

Aerosol cans are still recyclable if there is product left in the can, but you will need to take it to a hazardous waste facility. This could mean a long drive depending on where you live, and many hazardous waste facilities charge a small fee.
Since aerosol cans are airtight, the product inside will stay fresh for a very long time. It’s better to just use up the product, even if it takes awhile.

2. Keep all the materials in tact
The lids of aerosol cans are usually made of plastic and can be recycled separately. Every other part of the aerosol can, however, should be kept completely intact.

Puncturing the can or removing the nozzle can be extremely dangerous and should not be done by anyone other than a staff member of a recycling center. The contents of aerosol cans are highly pressurized. Even when the can is empty, it is still full of pressurized air. Attempting to puncture the can is dangerous for you and for the staff of the recycling center.

It is also extremely important to keep the can’s label intact. The label is helpful to the staff of the recycling center when determining what was in the aerosol can and how to properly dispose of whatever product may remain.

When recycling aerosol cans, dispose of it through normal household waste disposal methods. If you are unsure about a specific product, contact your local waste disposal office. It is also important to note that not all communities accept aerosol cans for recycling. Contact your local aluminum collection site or recycling coordinator for details if you are unsure.

7 Things to Do With Fireplace Ashes

ewDoes your fireplace collect ashes that become a nuisance? They can be messy, may cause you to constantly sneeze, and may take away from the beauty of your wood burning unit. But, you can choose to see the downside of the mess, or look at it with a more positive view.

The popularity of using ashes for various remedies began as early as the 18th century when the many benefits of potassium carbonate, potash from ashes, began to catch the attention of scientists. In an article posted by the Oregon State University Extension Service, it is mentioned that ash from North American trees was exported to Great Britain and in the late 1700s the first fertilizer from wood ash was patented.

Ashes, or wood residue, from the fireplace may be unpleasant at times, but they can also bring a variety of benefits. If you aren’t sure what to do with the pile of wood residue your fireplace produces, the following ideas might give you a different perspective and may prove helpful.

    1. Spruce up Your Lawn – Certain lawns and soils can greatly benefit from a little wood residue. Small amounts of ash added to a little water can liven the grass and even promote its growth. Keep in mind, however, that adding too much can be toxic rather than beneficial.


    1. Help Your Trees and Plants – Trees can also benefit from the white mess your fireplace produces. Hardwood ash produced in your fireplace can be spread at the tree’s base to help improve the nutrition of the tree and the surrounding soil. The potassium within helps plants to bloom and flower. If you plant tomatoes in your garden you may want to add a little of the white powder inside the hole with the seed to improve growth.


    1. Remove Stains – Have you ever spilled paint on concrete? Perhaps you have stubborn water spots or stains on your favorite pieces of furniture? Just scoop a little of that lovely white mess out of your fireplace and add a little water to make the problems disappear. For paint spills, simply put it on top of the spill. For marks on furniture, add a little of the white powder and water to a soft rag and gently scrub the surface before wiping it off with a clean, non-abrasive rag.


    1. Avoid Insects and Rodents – You aren’t the only one who doesn’t like the product that builds up in your fireplace. Insects and rodents don’t care for it either, which makes it a great repellent. Spreading an even layer in your garden and flower beds will help to keep snails and other pests from ruining your harvest.


    1. Make Things Pretty – Did you ever think that something so dirty and messy could actually make things beautiful? A little ash can help clean silver and even the glass on your fireplace doors.


    1. Melt Ice – It has been said that a little sprinkle of ash from your wood burning unit can help melt icy pathways. It may track indoors if used in high traffic areas, but to help unfreeze gardens and other areas, a light layer can help to defrost icy places.


  1. Remove Skunk Odor from Your Pets – Curious pets can come home quite smelly. Fortunately a small scoop of the snow-like dust from your wood fireplace can help deodorize animal fur.