Millions of people worldwide celebrate Earth Hour every year for one hour by hosting events, switching off lights and lobbying for climate change. Climate change is already starting to manifest itself through shifts in seasons, and a lack of resources such as water and food, and we need to go beyond one hour of awareness if we are going to help the earth heal itself. The inhabitants of this planet, namely the human race need to make lifestyle changes. We are disillusioned that our individual shift in environmental consciousness will not make an impact on the current threat of climate change. Millions of people globally feel the same way and that is why it is important that we take responsibility for ourselves, our families and our communities. This year Earth Hour is at 08h:30 pm / 20h30 on the 24th of March 2018. The theme for Earth Hour focuses on “food, energy, water and waste – challenging individuals, communities, schools, businesses and municipalities to take the lead on climate action.”
“We encourage you to go beyond Earth Hour and we challenge you to make lifestyle changes for just three months! We have compiled a list of ways to conserve resources and in the process save money! “
Our earth’s surface is covered by over 70% of water, of which only 1% is drinkable. The human population is currently at 7.6 billion and growing rapidly. Our wastage negatively impacts not only on aquatic life but also our access to water as evidently seen in Cape Town. Toxins from landfills penetrate the ground reaching our water veins found beneath the surface of the earth, polluting it. Fortunately, in South Africa, we have waste pickers which are an economy flourishing on local landfill sites by recycling the waste which saves municipalities an estimated 700 million rand every year.
What can I do to conserve water and save money?
- Instead of buying bottled water, use water filtration systems such as water jugs with filters, and filtration mechanisms for taps at home and at work.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
- Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator.
- Use a pool cover to cut down on water evaporation.
- Use a broom rather than a hosepipe to clean driveways and parking lots.
- Put a brick in the toilet water tank. It reduces the amount of water you use – it reduces water consumption and saves you some money.
- Drink water from biodegradable glass bottles rather than plastic bottles.
Food spoilage and disposal make up 1.3 billion tonnes of food wastage globally. Our expired produce and meal leftovers are dumped in landfills and combustion facilities, and the Methane emissions deriving from these facilities represent one of the largest sources of Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These are gases that are absorbed by the atmosphere making the planet warmer than it should be, thus contributing to climate change. By managing food sustainably, we can save money and bridge the gap between communities offering food to those who do not have enough food to eat.
What can I do to minimise food wastage and save money?
- Plan your meals before you go shopping and buy only the things you need for those meals. Don’t be tempted by sales and discounts and avoid overbuying.
- Buying in bulk is only useful if you use the food before it spoils. This may mean more frequent visits to the store but this will minimise food spoilage and wastage. If buying in bulk is too good an opportunity, offer the excess to someone else.
- Make use of the freezer and visit it frequently. Freeze items such as bread and prepared meals.
- Give away extra produce, and meals to others in need.
- Use reusable shopping bags. Keep one in the car or handbag.
- Make your own baby food.
EcoTraining’s Makuleke camp also suggests the following:
- Reduce the amount of meat you eat – switching to plant-based proteins even once or twice a week can make a big difference and it has added health benefits as well.
- Shop locally – rather than using big supermarkets go to the local farmers market. Some farmers now do vegetable and fruit boxes which they can deliver to you, you will get a wide range of locally produced, seasonal produce doing this and it tastes better than what you can get in the supermarket
- Turn leftover vegetable waste into compost for your garden.
- Grow some of your own vegetables – you can grow a lot in pots so they don’t take up that much space. Tomatoes, beans, and peas are all easy to grow.
- Don’t be afraid of imperfect fruit and veg – food doesn’t have to look perfect for it to taste amazing.
South Africa relies on coal-fired power to produce 90% of its electricity. Generally speaking, fossil fuel power plants or stations burn coal, oil or gas to generate steam for the functioning of turbines which generate electricity. These plants emit various pollutants into the atmosphere which leads to many negative consequences on the environment and human health. These include acid rains, regional haze, and smog which lead to respiratory illnesses. South Africa is planning to migrate towards renewable forms of energy including nuclear energy which will reduce our emissions substantially.
What can I do to minimise power wastage and save money?
- Using natural daylight is sufficient.
- Switch off lights in empty rooms.
- If hot, open all windows and doors to allow heat to escape and cool air to enter.
- Unplug all appliances and devices, not in use. Even mobile chargers use electricity when they are not being used.
Forests currently occupy 30% of the planet. The deforestation and destruction of trees impact heavily on climate change since it is the planet’s only way of healing itself. Trees use the energy from the sun to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air, reducing emission that gets absorbed by the atmosphere. Trees also impact the weather by controlling the amount of sunlight being absorbed by the planet’s surface which creates a sort of thermal regulation system.
What can I do to minimise paper wastage and save money?
- Save and reuse gift bags and tissue paper from the gifts you receive.
- Create a double-sided policy at work when printing or recycling office paper into scrap paper.
- Prevent the need to print when documents can be worked on and transferred digitally.
- Create a digital diary rather than a printed diary. Use the recycled scrap paper to jot down notes to be transferred to your digital diary.
- Plant at least one tree every year.
RARE EARTH MINERALS
Rare earth minerals are key ingredients in the manufacture of many of our tech products such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. As technology evolves, so will the demand for these devices, and these metals are already in short supply. Many of these devices land up in landfills which result in toxic pollution. The mining of these minerals uses energy-intensive machinery which as you are aware by now, contributes towards climate change.
What can I do to minimise the mining of these rare minerals and save money?
- Buy rechargeable batteries.
- Donate your device to charities or NGOs.
- Resell your device and earn some extra cash.
- Try fixing the device as opposed to buying a new one.
- Trade it in for a new phone. The manufacturers have programmes to refurbish or recycle the components of devices, keeping the heavy metals and toxins away from landfills.
We at EcoTraining endorse behaviours that result in less wastage of resources. Our camps located across Africa are built to be eco-friendly with a low carbon footprint to ensure that the natural environment continues to be unimpeded by negative human activity. We encourage the use of eco-friendly products for cleaning and personal sanitation. Going the organic route means caring for the environment and having a different mindset. At Karongwe camp, for instance, we use a technique to biodegrade wet food waste which combines effective microorganisms (EM) with Bokashi and worms. This three-month process breaks down the waste from the kitchen into fertile soil which minimises the amount of waste taken to landfills. It gives rich nutrients back to nature, where our food comes from. The soil then rehabilitates roads and herb gardens. In addition, our camp staff crushes used cans and takes them to her community where they are grained with a stone and recycled into new toys. We recycle and reuse glass jars and other containers which means less dumping in landfills and money savings to be spent on more food. Food wastage is minimal since any leftovers are used for the next meal time and organic food scraps are used for compost. Take a look at our camps by visiting our camps page.
See the video of Karongwe Camp, South Africa
Knowing one person can make a difference!
Article by EcoTraining Guides and Guardians