Perhaps a step too far!

Surprise, surprise, it’s me again fresh from a long sabbatical in which I sold a property, bought a new one, undertook a major renovation, moved home and was blessed with the world’s most beautiful granddaughter. All of this left very little time and absolutely no energy for writing. Now that I’m happily settled in my new beachfront apartment I feel renewed, invigorated and full of enthusiasm, so I hope you’ll join me on my latest creative journey as I share more of my musings, travel adventures and short stories with you. Hop on board, it’s going to be quite a ride! Here goes …


While on holiday recently, I happened across an advertisement for a seminar offered by visiting environmental ‘guru’, Bea Johnson. Despite the hype surrounding her appearance, I’m ashamed to admit that the irresistible pleasures of sun, sea, beach lounger and a pink cocktail selfishly trumped saving the planet.

After returning home, complete with painful sunburn (who says Mother Nature doesn’t have a sense of humour), I downloaded her much feted TedTalk.  During this, she shares that her family of four generate the equivalent of only 1 litre of landfill bound waste per annum. That’s right, per annum! I don’t know about you, but if I could keep it down to that per day, I’d be pretty impressed.

As she enthusiastically expounded her waste-free philosophy, I began to feel a little uncomfortable about my rampant consumerist lifestyle. A quick peek into my kitchen bin revealed a couple of aluminium cans (recyclable), an empty wine bottle (ditto), paper, vegetable matter and plastic (ditto, ditto and ditto) and horror of horrors, a fishy polystyrene take-away container. My guilt bloomed like oxygen choking water-hyacinth on a lake.

Swamping the planet!

In an attempt to assuage my inflamed conscience, I mentally listed everything I do to stem the tsunami of non-biodegradable waste that threatens to swamp us all. I usually (okay in all honesty, make that sometimes)take our small mountain of empty but sadly non-refillable or even refundable wine and beer bottles to the glass ‘igloo’, I often wash and reuse glass jars and sometimes even buy refill packs of products. By any standard, this is a pretty pathetic recycling resume! The phrase that I grew accustomed to seeing on my sons report cards instantly sprang to mind … “Can do (much) better”.

I must do better!

A dark cloak of shame shrouded me. I’m sure I can do better. I must do better! But how, as I now live in a 6th floor beachfront apartment? Any attempts to follow her lead with compost heaps and crop growing might at best damage neighbourly relationships and at worst, render me homeless.

But it was when Bea revealed that her entire wardrobe consists of just fifteen items, all bought second hand, that  I stared back at the TV in utter disbelief. Fifteen items!!! I have at least fifteen items on my “too small but keeping ‘til I lose weight” pile. The only upside I can see to owning such an abbreviated wardrobe is an escape from my regular “six changes until I’m horribly late and have to go out in something that still doesn’t look right” ritual.  That and as she herself says, packing for a holiday involves no angst, you just put every piece of clothing that you own into a small carry-on bag. Nevertheless, my penchant for clothes shopping was being directly challenged!

Despite her tossing down the metaphorical gauntlet, after due consideration (all ten seconds of it), I think I’ll have to pass on this as being a giant leap too far. Falling into the same category is keeping an enormous box of washable old cloths to use instead of tissues and paper towel, cocoa powder as makeup and going without deodorant and shampoo. Unthinkable!!!

Bea’s philosophy also encompasses the refusal of pamphlets, free items and extraneous packaging materials as these, according to her, all unnecessarily consume resources and add to costs. As with most of her suggestions, this is easier said than done. While buying fresh vegetables in gossamer thin plastic bags instead of polystyrene trays is simple and may even prove economically beneficial, refusing the box and transporting my dozen extra large, free-range eggs in a (recycled) paper packet is unlikely to end well for either me or the eggs.

However, notwithstanding these caveats, I was inspired by her message of voluntary simplicity and have decided to make a few fundamental changes to reduce my ever-expanding carbon footprint. From now on, I will use glass instead of plastic whenever possible, try white vinegar instead of a vast array of individually packaged cleaning products and recycle as much paper, plastic and glass as possible.

And that’s where you come in. Please leave a comment sharing your favourite planet-saving tip and let’s help reduce the landfills, one easy to follow action at a time.

For those interested in watching Bea’s talk, you can find it on


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Brian says:

    Hi BS, Nice to see you are back in the saddle, so to speak. I am a little concerned at your list of excuses, as I happen to know that your husband worked with the contractor on the Apartment, that Biddulphs moved your kit, that said husband did half the selling and buying and that your son and daughter in law did all the work for your adorable grand-daughter.

    That being said I think you should write a blog on “The Art of Resting – a Biography of a Cool PE Granny.”

    Can’t wait for the sequel.

    Love BB

    1. These aspersions on my journalistic integrity could only be made by a loving brother 😂😂. It appears that family members have been lying to you as to their contributions!! Nevertheless, I’m glad to see your acknowledgement that I am indeed a cool PE granny!😆. Lots of love from your BS. Xxx

  2. Camilla Smith says:

    Hi Cath, or should I say Gran!! Congratulations to proud grandparents and parents on the safe arrival of your precious granddaughter / daughters! Cath, I was wondering whereyou had got to. No wonder you have been quiet for a while, and in spite of your brother’s nustersiums at your excuses, what husband works without a wife’s input, and how would he (brother or husband) have any idea of being a grandmother? We busy sorting the house in Segde (you may want to refer previous notes about sortin a workspace for myself that you posted on your blog here – progress is slow especially as T still has a cataract op with the specialist in Jhb this week) but I do love being out of the big smoke. Thanks for the interesting blog. Will catch up soon. Kim

  3. Hi Kym. So great to hear from you again! I was wondering how life in Sedgefield was treating you. Thanks so much for your good wishes on the arrival of Alexa Kate, who was 6 months old on 14th. I know that you’re going to vehemently disagree, but she is the most beautiful baby ever born! 🙂
    I hope Terry’s op goes well and he’s fit and healthy and back to his chores soon.
    Lots of love

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