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Aaniyah Omardien’s 9 tips for an eco-friendly life

by | Jun 8, 2020

Aaniyah Omardien is the founder and director of The Beach Co-op, a Cape Town-based non-profit organisation which seeks to reconnect people and nature. “As a family of five I realise that we have a heavy footprint and impact on the planet. I try to reduce this footprint by traveling locally more than overseas, mending and fixing clothes so that we have hand-me-downs, growing some of our food, composting and recycling, potty-training my kids from an early age to avoid disposable nappies – I used cloth nappies too,” she says.

Today on World Oceans Day, Aaniyah shares 9 tips to living an eco-friendly life.

1. Meals

I have tried to slow my roll on meat. I try and buy organic mostly and since the lockdown we have been ordering a weekly vegetable box with other additions from Neighbourhood Farmers Market. I am super impressed with how we have reduced our plastic packaging by ordering this box. We also have a salad patch in our garden and we have been composting for years now.

2. Cleaning Products

I use a mix of the conventional stuff and homemade products. Vinegar is a favourite as well as bicarbonate of soda. I re-use plastic containers whenever I can. We recycle whatever we can too. I have been doing that for years now and learnt about recycling from my mother. She also taught us how to re-use our grey water to water plants which we still do today in my home with my family.

3. Transport

I have a car and use it far too much! Covid-19 has played a significant role in reducing our carbon footprint too and meetings online are now a thing. We try to keep our family travel to local road trips when we do holidays and Cape St Francis has been our favourite destination for over 10 years.

4. Grooming and Beauty Routine

I have replaced a few of my hygiene products. I use a moon cup for when I menstruate. I have a wooden toothbrush and have tried a few toothpastes but really need to just make my own.  I hardly wear makeup. The last time I bought make up was when I got married 19 years ago. I’ve recently purchased Back to Nature shampoo in a metal bottle and that is working well. The shampoo bars are also great.

My favourite eco-friendly beauty brand is Khween Shebar – the Koosh cream is the ultimate and I love the turmeric soap. I love the simple, raw and clean (chemical free) products she has made and they make your skin feel amazing.

5. Clothing 

I love mending and sewing. I have three boys and whilst that in itself is a huge footprint, the hand-me-down line in strong. I only buy new clothes for my eldest son. I like buying second-hand clothing and try to avoid buying new clothing. If I have to buy new then they have to be trans-seasonal and good-quality items and definitely local.

6. Water 

We use a lot less water in the bath since the water restrictions and bath sharing is a thing.

7. Energy

We have a solar panel for our water and I switch off lights and cursing the family on a regular basis for leaving them on unnecessarily. We also have a mini-oven and try to use that if we don’t need to use the bigger oven. We have a gas stove top too which is a lifesaver both financially and energy-wise.

8. Waste

It’s all about being in the garden and going back to the soil. With lockdown, the garden has become our sanctuary and we have been nurturing, pruning, transplanting, propagating, watering (mainly from our water tank), pottering and creating new spots to gaze at the mountain. We have started a new compost cycle – our previous cycle lasted roughly 8 months. We planted some more lettuce plants before lockdown and we’ve been able to eat delicious salad and share with our parents when doing their shopping for them. We have a guava tree that is finally yielding fruit without worms – great timing! I like to prepare the guavas in syrup with custard.

I try to avoid buying products that are over packaged in single-use plastic. Since Covid-19 this can be an issue though.

9. Community Projects

I am the founder of a NPC called The Beach Co-op and our vision is to work collaboratively and creatively within ocean communities and with government and business to urgently protect, restore and regenerate the integrity of ocean ecosystems.

  • Image credits: Feature image of Aaniyah is by Jay Caboz and portrait is from Beautiful News
  • Aaniyah sits on Twyg’s board 
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