The movement toward eco-consciousness has been fueled by environmental concerns created by the devastating impacts of climate change, overpopulation and the destruction and degradation of natural resources and areas. Sustainable living is the tool to take our power back and right the wrongs of our ignorant past for the benefit of all life on the planet.
There are plenty simple ways for each of us to be part of the solution – at home, at work, out and about, while shopping, dining and travelling.
Be the change you want to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi
Before purchasing something, ask yourself: “do I really need this?” and “is there a better and healthier alternative?”. Let`s take ear buds as an example. After taking the time to work it out I realised, to my horror, that our household was sending 1,460 plastic ear bud sticks to the landfill every year! I kept my eyes open and soon found 100% natural, biodegradable cotton buds made from recycled paper which quickly replaced the brand I had habitually bought for years.
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE
Shop with awareness, paying attention to how items are packaged. Reuse and upcycle what you can rather than throwing it away. Find and use your local recycling facility and / or community recycle project. For more information and specific tips see The Waste Hierarchy.
By buying produce and products that are grown and made locally you are reducing the transport related environmental impact as well as keeping your money within your community.
SUPPORT ETHICAL PRODUCTS & COMPANIES
“Vote with your wallet”. As an example, numerous products ranging from chocolates to toiletries contain palm oil. The demand for this cheap ingredient has resulted in the destruction of Indonesian rain forests and the loss of habitat for indigenous people, orangutan and tiger to name but a few. We can boycott companies and products whose only concern is their bottom line and support those who operate in a responsible way toward people, animals and the environment. There are lots of labels to guide you like the “Certified Sustainable Palm Oil“, “Cruelty Free” stamp on your body products and the “Fairtrade” certification mark. Eco Atlas is also a great go-to South African all-inclusive ethical directory!
Even if you haven’t switch to renewable energy, you can still save power by switching off your geyser (most only need 40 minutes to heat, so leaving it on all day is a waste of energy and money); switching off unused lights and plugs (standby mode does use power), installing LED light bulbs, drying your clothes in the sun and opening the windows before turning on the air conditioner.
Installing rain tanks to store water is becoming essential. Some other water-saving tricks are to take quick showers instead of baths; install water-saving shower-heads and dual flush toilet mechanisms; have a mostly indigenous garden and only water it in the evening to avoid evaporation.
Switch to biodegradable, non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning products; this is a far healthier option for you, your pets and the environment. Your grey water can then be safely given to your plants without causing harm by any chemicals, as they would in conventional detergents.
SWITCH TO ECOSIA
Even though you have switched to electronic mail, your internet and computer usage still leaves a footprint. With the Ecosia search engine you can help plant trees just by searching the web. Ecosia neutralizes all carbon emissions related to your searches. Start now, it`s free!
CHOOSE ECO-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION WHEN TRAVELLING
Stay at eco-friendly places when travelling: it feels good to have a “clean” holiday, knowing that your money is not only giving you an awesome experience, but that you are contributing to a place that serves the environment and community in a positive way. Browse green accommodation on lovetostay.co.za!
EAT LESS MEAT PRODUCTS
The meat industry is a massive contributor to global greenhouse gasses. If you are not inclined to become a vegetarian, simply reducing your meat intake will significantly lower your carbon footprint. Remember to opt for ethical meat products and visit Meat Free Monday for more information.