So, tomorrow night is Earth Hour and being the little ecobunny that I am, I would feel wrong not to mention it here. This is not going to be one of those scary doom and gloom “the world is ending” tirades though, promise!
There is so much debate about climate change, and it is a complex issue. I’m not going to get into all of that here, though if anyone wants to discuss the ins and outs of it, I’d be happy to, just drop me a message or comment. What I will say to those people who don’t believe we have anything to do with climate change is this: As a logical person, can you really believe that it’s possible for our ever swelling population and increasing pollution of the environment not to have any impact?
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The concept of Earth Hour asks that people around the world switch off their lights for one hour, from 20:30 local time, on the last Saturday in March. Well, that’s really inconvenient…couldn’t they have done it on a Tuesday night after we’ve all gone to bed? Maybe, but that’s kind of the point. If it doesn’t have any impact on our lives then we’re not really going to think about the message behind the event, are we? And what is that message? The obvious is that the organisers would like to encourage us to reduce our use of electricty, and thereby our carbon emissions, even if it is only for an hour. And hopefully some participants or those who hear about the event will get the bigger picture and start to make lifestyle changes that last for more than just an hour.
It’s those lifestyle changes that so many of us struggle with though. Many people would love to lead a greener lifestyle, but don’t know where to start, or feel like the little things they do won’t be enough to make a difference. I think the best thing we can do for ourselves is believe that every action we take has some impact (good or bad), so where we can make the green choice, we should. I don’t claim to be living the perfect green lifestyle by any stretch of the imagination….otherwise my laptop would be plugged in to a solar powered charger, and I’d be snacking on the fresh produce from my garden instead of overpackaged, overproduced chocolate! But there are definitely little things that we can all do that are easy and don’t even feel like you’re making ‘sacrifices’.
One easy thing to do is check the packaging on the products, especially food, that you buy, and wherever possible buy local. And while organic is a great option, if it’s been transported all the way from France or Kenya, the carbon footprint of all that transportation negates the benefits of organic farming. Local and in season is always the best way to go.
There are loads of websites that will help you to buy more environmentally friendly products. Faithful to Nature is a great one, that not only delivers eco-friendly products, but also offers a directory of recycling sites around the country. And if you live in Cape Town, you can collect…even better for that carbon footprint!
If your carbon footprint haunts you (and let’s face it, it is tricky avoiding planes and cars in SA!), then plant a tree or two. If, like me, you don’t have your own garden to plant a tree in, then check out Food and Trees for Africa. They are involved in loads of great programmes, and you can ease your carbon guilt by buying trees from them which will be planted in local communities (job creation as well!). You can even calculate your carbon footprint using the site’s handy calculator so you know exactly how many trees to buy. Be prepared for a shock!
And of course, I would be remiss not to mention our oceans, which bear the brunt of so many of our actions. Even if you live inland, the odds of your litter ending up in the sea via the storm water drain system are incredibly high. So really, just put it in the bin. And if you love your seafood, choose sustainably using the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative‘s handy guidelines.
And of course reduce, re-use, recycle, repurpose, refurbish and regift!
I’m sure other people have loads of great eco-friendly ideas too – please feel free to share them. And make Earth Hour fun tomorrow night. Get some friends together, have a picnic by candlelight, sit out under our beautiful stars or have a moonlit swim. Whatever you do, remember to switch off all the lights (or even all the electricity!) for an hour tomorrow from 20:30.