Tag Archives: sustainable living

How to be an awesome human this winter

One of my least favourite days of the month, is the day I (okay fine, hubby and I) get that bill from the City of Cape Town telling me how much we’ve spent on ‘living’. Oh rates and taxes, water, electricity and garbage disposal. You cost me a small fortune.

If you’re living in Cape Town (like I am), surely you’ve already whittled down your water useage. But now that we’re mid winter and it’s FREEZING, is it possible to save money on electricity as well? Well of course it is!

Obviously, it’s not all about saving money – it’s about considering our (often unknown and unintentional) abuse of our environment. Here are a couple ideas, to make your home more cost-efficient and eco-aware this winter.

Use existing insulation

As soon as the sun begins setting, close curtains and blinds to keep warmth inside your bedrooms and living spaces. It will mean your interior stays warmer for longer and you’ll only have to switch on heaters if it is essential. Or install a fireplace… (bucket list!)

Replace and switch off

Replace all light bulbs with LED. Turn off lights, plugs and especially electric blankets and heaters when not using them. Just these few things can reduce your home’s electricity consumption by 15%. Last night I woke up to my scale beeping (weird, I know) and saw hubby’s side of our electric blanket was still on. He got a scathing reprimand at midnight.

Fill it up

Run full loads in your washing machine or dishwasher. And use the eco/short cycles.

Off at the wall

What sits on standby? TV/Wifi/chargers etc. By turning off appliances or electronics which sit on standby for hours on end, you can save up to 6% of your electric bill.

Lose 1 degree

While going solar is the gold-star goal, turning your geyser down by 1 degree and switching it off during the middle of the day can really make a difference. This can provide estimated savings of around R100 a week. We recently bought a geyser blanket but are interested in installing a timer too.

Consider buying a Spindel

As a family of 5, we can’t live without our tumble dryer. I cringe every time we put it on, because I feel like it takes foreverrrrr to dry our clothes and the electricity it uses is nausea-worthy. My recommendation: only wash what is in desperate need of a wash, and investigate using a Spindel (esp if your washing machine is not a super fancy pants one – which ours is not).

If you’ve never heard of it before – a Spindel is an innovative dryer that uses spin power instead of heat to remove up to 80% of the leftover moisture from clothes. On average – one load in a spindel draws out around 1 cup of water from my washing (and it takes only 3 min to do so!). If I need to pop my clothes in the tumble drier, it takes a fraction of the time to dry completely, after being ‘spindeled’. A Spindel saves TONS of time and electricity.

Inspired? What else do you to save money, electricity and the environment? I’d love to know.

Happy end of winter all xxx

No more tampons – EVER

Right, so ladies. This is about to get gory-ly honest.

Periods. We all have them. Often. Having said that over the past 4 years I’ve had about 3 of them. Between pregnant with #1, breastfeeding up a storm, body back into baby making mode, pregnant with #2, breastfeeding and then BHAM. Here we are.

So, thinking back I must have started turning a darker shade of (eco)green in Vancouver because I went out on a limb and bought myself a Diva Cup Menstrual Cup before I even got my period back after #2 and it sat, unopened, for more than a year. Then one fateful day, it happened. Aunt Flo came back.

Finally I got to try my new menstrual cup I’d heard so much about (both with positive and negative reviews). I must be honest, I was quite excited. I’m not sure how I personally got around the mental shift of moving from something you throw away to something you clean and reuse but I did. And I was keen to give it a go. (BTW, there are VERY funny blog posts about womens experiences with these things. Often crude, and with complete oversharing – but very funny nonetheless.)

The fact is, menstrual cups have been around for 80 years (and there are lots of them!!), but the truth about them has been lost in the frenzy of disposable tampons and pads. Like anything new, menstrual cups may take some getting used to as the experience of wearing them is a totally different mindset to the idea of using tampons. Even women who are used to wearing pads as their preferred method of period care (because they cannot wear tampons or are not comfortable with internal feminine hygiene products) are finding great success with menstrual cups (apparently – according to the Diva Cup people).

M power cup 1


What is it?

The menstrual cup is a cup (most often made from 100% medical grade silicone) and is inserted into the vagina during menses and collects, rather than absorbs, menstrual blood. At regular intervals, it is removed and the contents are disposed of. The cup is then washed or wiped clean and reinserted. The cup usually lasts for around 5 years. It is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution to pads and tampons.


Why not? There is an overwhelming amount of information as to why the move from pads/tampons is not only important, but should be seriously considered. Here are but a few:

  • The cup can hold up to three times more fluid than the average tampon or pad.
  • It poses no risk of toxic shock syndrome or vaginal dryness (problems associated with tampons).
  • It is reusable, significantly reducing waste and therefore eco friendly.
  • Convenient, cost effective, reliable and comfortable.
  • Needs to be changed less frequently than even the highest absorbency tampons and can be worn overnight.
  • Odourless and entirely invisible with no strings.
  • Ideal for an active lifestyle and for active sports such as running, gym, yoga and swimming.
  • Antibacterial, entirely non-absorbent and is not associated with TSS or with other infections like cystitis (inflammation of the bladder, associated with sanitary pads) or candida (thrush).
  • Bio-compatible i.e. not harmful to living tissue.

If you want to know the VERY detailed step-by-step as to how it works (the “fold it like this, and insert it this way” type stuff) – take a peek here.

But what is it like… REALLY?

I asked three friends who I know use the cup, to give me their honest opinions on it. Here is what they had to say:


  • You can leave it in for 12 hours, don’t risk TSS and it’s safer for your body
  • Just like a tampon you can’t feel the menstrual cup at all if correctly inserted
  • Leak-proof. Even when using for 12 hours, no one had experienced a leak
  • Saves you money
  • You never have the mishap of running out of tampons
  • You get to know your body


  • It’s not for those who are screamish about blood
  • The cup can stain a little (which can be quite gross), but you can give it a good clean by scrubbing it with a toothbrush
  • After the majority of her period has passed, one friend said she felt a little sensitive after using it, so switched to tampons/pads for the remainder of her period
  • It takes a few goes to get used to putting it in correctly but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy.

One friend added: “Make sure you put it away when it’s not being used as it can be mistaken for other things, and you can find yourself in an awkward conversation”.

Another friend said: “I LOVE my menstrual cup!! I found out about them around a year ago! As someone who has always tried my best to care for this planet I cannot avoid the massive waste produced by sanitary products as a women goes through something like 9000 tampons (and R12 500) in a life time, as opposed to maybe 4 menstrual cups. So for me it’s really a no brainier”.

For myself, the shift from tampons to the menstrual cup was super easy. I know that’s not always the case with other women. I know some women would be grossed out by it, but I haven’t found it gross or weird at all. It’s my body and my blood, no more icky than a cut in my arm”.

My opinion? I love it. No really. I do. Having had babies naturally and having trained as a birth doula, I’m very comfortable with ‘bodily fluids’. And so this doesn’t gross me out at all. Yes, it takes some time to get used to, and yes, I can fully appreciate that the collection and disposal of blood can seem gory and is not for everyone but it has revolutionized the way I see my body, my cycle and how to manage it the best way I can see possible. (That sounds heavy – ‘revolutionized’ – but, it kinda has).

Are you willing to give it a GO? Well, LUCKY YOU!

We’ve got one up for grabs, to the value of R325.

Mpower Cup 2

The Mpower Cup was established by Glenda Tutt in 2008 in Cape Town, South Africa. Not only did she start this business with a vision for a better life for herself and her son, but with the success of Mpower Cup, she has changed the lives of many around her. As her business grows, so do her dreams, and her biggest dream yet is to supply sustainable sanitary ware to impoverished women who do not have access to it or cannot afford it. This is a huge need in our country and Mpower Cup has identified this as a cause they cannot ignore, with the goal of supplying a sustainable solution to menstrual management each and every month to women all across South Africa. Read more about this inspiring Karabo Initiative on her website.

To win one of these Mpower Menstrual Cups for yourself – here is what you need to do:

Enter here:

EXTRA Entries:

  • Share this competition on Facebook for an extra entry.
  • Tag a friend for another entry
  • Use the line on social media platforms: Enter to win a Mpower Cup Menstrual Cup with @OurGreenishLife here http://wp.me/p6hdsr-nY 

Thanks for entering. Good Luck!

Contact Glenda Tutt at Mpower Cup
(t) 079 898 5188
(e) glenda@mpowercup.co.za
Web: www.mpowercup.co.za

Terms and Conditions

The competition runs from 21 December – Thursday, 31 December 2015.
This competition is open to Cape Town residents only.
The winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email.
Winner will be announced on the Our Greenish Life website and social media channels on or around Thursday, 31 December 2015.

Featured picture credit: http://www.aliexpress.com/popular/menstrual-cup.html

This competition is closed, and was won by Kimberley O’Sullivan.