Are you itching to go green – to do your bit for the environment – but so overwhelmed by the concepts of carbon footprints, self-sustainable, and eco-friendly that you don’t know where to start? We’ve compiled a list of ten simple things that you can do to go green and reduce your impact on our beautiful earth.
South African’s are hugely reliant on their cars to get from A to B but our obsession with our cars often goes far beyond necessity. We live in a beautiful country so why not enjoy it. If the place you are going is five minutes away relish the exercise and the fresh air you will get and the amount of petrol you will save from taking a stroll every now-and-then.
2. Re-use, re-use, re-use
Whenever possible try to buy second hand or used items. Instead of splashing out on a new car why not buy a reliable used car from the previous year? Humans are quick to dispose of perfectly suitable items in favour a new one. This obsession with discarding items which are in perfect working order is wasting valuable resources the world over. And if it isn’t in working order why not try to have it fixed before chucking it out? Many items can be restored and made as good as new with a little bit of TLC. Also, give things away if you have no use for them anymore. Donate unwanted clothes and household items to charity shops or friends.
3. Local is better
Next time you are in the grocery store examine the labels of items to find products that are locally produced. These products use fewer resources to get to you and also help boost the economy. So if it’s available locally why spring for the proudly SA products instead.
4. Turn down the heat
Resist the temptation to turn up your household heating system in the cold. Use heaters to warm up a room and keep heat in by drawing the curtains and closing windows and doors. Whenever possible wrap yourself up in warm blanket and clothing instead of turning on a heater. Or, if you have a fireplace, light a fire and snuggle up in front of the fireplace. Use energy efficient heating like heated blankets, gas heaters, and wall heaters as these use less energy than conventional bar heaters.
5. Cut back on bottled water
South Africa is known for the quality of its drinking water so why not drink our natural H2O instead of buying the bottled stuff – which, in most cases, is nothing more than factory treated water. If you are addicted to your Adam’s Ale buy a swanky water bottle and keep it topped up with tap water. If you feel that you need more purification invest in a water purifier and drink with peace of mind.
6. Have a green thumb
Beautify your garden and plant a tree or two – or 5 – you will be doing your bit for the earth and your garden will look green and lush. If live in an apartment and don’t have a garden find some great clay pots and plant small tress in these to place on your balcony or in your lounge. Your home will look more welcoming with a plant or two.
7. Reduce your Vampire Power
Vampire power refers to the power consumed by electronic appliances while
they are switched off or in standby mode. Fifteen percent of your electricity is wasted on those beady-eyed little red lights that let you know your appliances are on standby mode. Although the power needed for standby mode is relatively small, because these are continuously plugged in the usage eventually adds up. We are all guilty of leaving our cell-phone chargers plugged into the socket and out TVs on standby all night long. Turn devices off at the wall while they aren’t in use to save on unnecessary electricity costs.
8. Recycle glass
Glass takes about one million years to fully decompose and why waste such a sturdy substance which can be used again and again in your home. Take glass soft drink bottles back to your local cafe – if the deposit isn’t of consequence to you put it in the nearest donation tin at the till point – re-use glass jars for nails, and bits-and-bobs at home; and recycle any glass items you can’t find a use for.
9. Get rid of junk mail
Spend some time de-registering from junk mail you applied for – or didn’t apply for – ages ago. If you can’t find the time to do this there are services which help you get rid of the copious amounts of junk mail you receive by opting out on your behalf. This small effort will lead to a lot less tress being chopped down to take up room in your mailbox.
10. Go online
Once you’ve rid your mail box of junk mail stop wasting paper by having your bills mailed to you every month. Instead, where possible, have your bank statement, bills, and other mail emailed to you. Pay your bills online and save time and millions of tress in the process.
Words by: Crystal Espin
We at www.waterandsolar.co.za want South Africa to start seriously looking now at renewable energy and reduce its need for coal fired power stations. As individuals we can start in our homes by following the 10 steps above and by switching to solar water heaters, introducing a greener way of living with greywater systems and rainwater harvesting. Together we can start reducing our homes carbon footprint and our need for coal hungry Eskom.