In May, South Africans held our National Elections. Less than 70% of the people who registered to vote, voted. We’re sure there are many reasons for this, but for us here at Blue Betty, that tells a story. It says, that for some reason, hopefully an important reason, South Africans didn’t want to have a say in how the country is run, which impacts everybody on a day-to-day basis.  

Now, there are even bigger elections to be had. Yes. Bigger than the national election vote that impacts us the most, more than our investments, our children’s future and our job security.  

It’s the daily votes you get to make with your purse and with your choices - for environmental change. What do we mean by that, and what does this have to do with elections? Well, it stands to reason that if collectively we didn’t  all make the effort to vote in what is arguably one of the most important in South African history that impacts us daily, how do we vote for something that is so far down our list of priorities? Something that we perceive to be “somebody else’s problem” and to a degree, creates more busyness in an already over-scheduled life? 

When looking at the whole of SA, including rural SA, let’s face it. If you don’t have running water, or R12 for that taxi fare, or a toilet inside of the house, thinking about your choice of product or how you spend your money is not part of your daily reality.   

But this is why we all have to do our part. This part looks different for each person, and we need to determine what that is for each of us. But those of us who can vote with our choices and purses, MUST. And that is probably every person reading this article…  

What does voting with our choices look like?  

A well-known retail brand brought out its third campaign targeted at children, encouraging parents to shop there. This campaign has individually plastic wrapped lego pieces. I’ve heard lots of conversation around this, pros/cons/recycling etc. But looking to the 5 Rs for guidance (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle) our first call to arms is to refuse.  

Say no.  

Yes, it’s a giveaway after purchasing Rx amount, but why take it because it is on offer? If we all said no – do you think they’d invest millions in a campaign that isn’t working. Your decisions MATTER. What you do and what you say MATTERS. But only if you become aware and conscious about these everyday issues. In order to say no, it doesn’t mean you need to be an eco-warrior (my auto spell came up as eco-worrier, and yes that happens too and sometimes it feels so overwhelming that we don’t know where to start, and so we don’t start at all.) But let’s start here. With our votes – our choices on what we deem acceptable.  


What does voting with our purses look like?  

Product swaps. Each month, look for an alternative to a product you normally buy.  Look for the alternative in the same isle that you shop in. You usually get the squeezy tomato sauce in the plastic bottle? Get the one in the glass. In fact, the retailer I talk of above has a fantastic new range, and their tomato sauce in a bottle is a winner! If you can’t find it in your usual store, allow yourself to explore the amazing zero waste stores popping up ALL OVER THE COUNTRY! I know of 3 in KZN, and at least 2 in CT and 1 in Jozi.  


Another way you can product swap, is swap apples bought in plastic for loose apples (and any other fruit or veg that comes in plastic). That’s what is wonderful about shopping at Food Lovers Market or markets in general, so much of the product is unpackaged just waiting for you to bring in your own bags! And just like that, you’ve removed the need for pre-packaged products.  

These small changes over time won’t feel like it is assaulting your purse and the oceans will love you in return.  

But this is something we have to do with love. With compassion for ourselves (and not get frustrated with ourselves for lack of perfection) and for others. Thank you for the role you do play and thank you for seeing the power in your purse and your choices.