green guides

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green your holidays

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2008-03-05 10:03

Holidays are no longer only associated with gas-guzzling air miles and water-craving golf courses. Hop onto the web and there are now many overseas websites committed solely to green travel where responsible and sustainable holidays are fast becoming the norm.

wild olive farmwild olive farmMore and more travellers are choosing to holiday on organic and eco farms, and B&Bs or staying in fairtrade establishments, and paying to offset their air travel carbon emissions. These are the types of people who take their ethics with them and tend to recycle wherever they are and also shop local. They’re minimising the negative impact of their journey as much as possible.

What is a green stay?

In South Africa there is very little at the moment being done to legitimise the claims of establishments calling themselves ‘organic’ or ‘eco’. The term eco-tourism in particular has been bandied about by many a tour operator who is looking after anything but the environment

green your electricity

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2008-02-13 12:07

On the tip of every South African’s tongue is the question: what can we do? The electricity from our only supplier isn’t meeting our demands.

Grumbling about the error of Eskom’s ways is all very well, but waiting for "them" to come up with a solution, well... we could be left in the dark.

South Africa’s electricity comes almost exclusively from coal (read: massive contribution to Green House Gases, nasty to the environment, unsustainable in the long run). Over 90% of electricity is generated near the coalfields of Mpumalanga, around 5% from Koeberg’s Nuclear Power Station, and the remainder is from hydro electric / pumped storage and gas turbines which only operate at peak load times. There are plans to build a further two 4800 MW coal-fired power stations in Limpopo and Mpumalanga before 2015 [engineeringnews], and construct nuclear plants along the coastline to add about 20 000 MW of atomic energy capacity by 2025 (more about nuclear here).

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green your transport

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2008-01-16 10:06

It might be a tad wearisome to consistently read ‘don’t own a car’ as one of the major ways in which you can green the planet - and, let’s face it, more than a little unrealistic when it comes to South Africa - but we can start thinking about how we use our car, the type of car we drive, and how to make use of other forms of transport as alternatives to getting around.

Whilst the oil industry continues to fund climate change ‘denial’ [guardian] , so that we continue filling our cars with petrol in a clear dismissal of climate change, we have two things to consider. One, the petrol price will continue going up and up, together with the price of food [tralac] with a resultant drop in the popularity of big cars [], and two, carbon dioxide remains one of the major contributing factors to climate change.

green your clothing

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2007-11-14 11:13

What you didn’t know:
Of all the pesticides used in the US, 25% of them are applied to cotton. Some of these chemicals can harm you [are the clothes you wear harming you?] A lot of synthetic material available on the market, like polyester, is petroleum based and it takes almost a third of a pound of fertilisers and pesticides to grow enough cotton for one t-shirt! [carewhatyouwear]

Aside from the obvious side-effects of the use of chemicals in the clothing industry, there’s also the ethical aspect to fashion. Most fashion statements are transient – they’re fleeting follies that come and go, leaving a litany of ‘can’t wears’ in the average wardrobe. Suddenly the standard advice to ‘buy classic’ makes a lot of sense – if you’re buying clothes that will last and won’t go out of fashion then you’ve got what today is called ‘eco-savvy’.

Buying clothing as a conscious consumer is not just about the type of material used in the production. It’s about how the crops used to make the clothing were grown and whether the production was ethical or fair trade. It’s about shopping smart and asking questions to reduce the load going into landfill and the waste generated in the production of clothing.

What you can do:

green your water

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2007-10-17 13:31

Our water supply was never supposed to be under threat. Water is meant to be in plentiful supply but our abuse, misuse and waste of water has meant that our water resources are currently under extreme stress, and the advent of global warming indicates that it is set to get worse.

Succumb to a green gadget

green your heating & cooling

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2007-09-27 13:46

Around 75% of the energy used by the average household goes towards heating water and rooms. If you consider that our demand may soon way exceed Eskom’s capacity, that’s a high percentage. It warrants a complete re-think about how we heat and cool our homes.

Passive and low energy architecture (PLEA)
A plea to use common sense? If you’re in the fortunate position of being able to design your home, do so in a way that maximises natural energy conservation and diminishes the need for heating and cooling. This includes:

• north-facing windows to allow as much natural light as possible
• insulated roofs and walls
• overhanging eaves or a stoep deep enough to keep summer sun from hitting your windows in summer, but shallow enough to hit your windows in winter, or use shutters
• If you want to calculate this yourself – use SketchUp from Google to help you work out solar projections yourself

green your lighting

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2007-09-04 10:42

The advent of global warming has brought many aspects of the way in which we live to the fore. And not least of these is our demand for electricity. We can blame Eskom for bad planning to a certain extent, but we can’t defer our responsibility for continuing to drive the demand for energy that directly contributes to green house emissions and global warming. For a country that receives as much sunlight as we do in South Africa, we’re rather careless in our approach to the design of our homes – it would pay us to pay more attention to the planet’s vulnerability. And the easiest and cheapest place to start, is with our lighting.

Passive design
The best source of light, obviously, is natural light – the sun. And the better use one makes of it, the less lighting you need. Use passive design by making sure, that your windows are north facing, which allows as much natural light into the house as possible; keep the blinds up, open the curtains, and put in the odd skylight.

The merits of the CFL
Before 2006, and Eskom’s infamous energy-saving campaign, very few of us even knew what a CFL was...

green your cleaning

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2007-08-23 11:40

Have you noticed just how many products it takes to clean your home? From your floor to your toilet bowl, there’s a different product for every surface – sprays, antibacterial agents, tablets, powders and gels - and aside from the fact that this on its own begs the question: do we really need so many different products to clean our home? there is also the added hazard of the chemicals contained therein – more and more studies are implicating health problems associated with these chemicals.

And it isn’t just about the poisonous chemicals you are introducing into your homes and onto your skins; it’s also what you’re pouring down the drain...

green your personal care

Submitted by sproutingforth on Fri, 2007-08-10 13:37

The beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that, until now, has had little other than ‘cruelty to animals’ to worry about as a minor obstacle to their marketing campaigns. The safety of beauty products has largely been taken for granted – who would wittingly poison their customers? Take a look at the ingredients of your shampoos, conditioners, moisturisers, hair gels, lipsticks, mascaras and perfumes, and choose True or False for the following to find out just how safe your products really are:

1. my shampoo & body wash contain sodium lauryl sulphate
2. one or more of the hair products I use contain a combination of: sodium lauryl sulfate and TEA (triethanolamine, DEA (diethanolamine), or MEA (monoethanolamine)
3. methylparaben appears on a label
4. dibutyl phthalate, or DBP, or diethylhexyl phthalate, or DEHP appear on a label

If one or more of the above is True, then the ‘safety’ of your products is questionable. All of the above chemicals have been linked to health problems and some or all of them are banned in certain countries...

green your baby

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2007-08-01 12:12

Nothing motivates one quite as much as being responsible for a new being, and having a baby is the moment when many people move from one end of the green spectrum to the other – it’s no longer just what you put into and on your body that counts, now it’s a little life that’s being affected – it becomes a big deal!

Green jargon unravelled – just how to green your baby

We give you the low-down on how to be more 'green' when it comes to your baby; how you can treat the planet with the respect it deserves and in so doing, teach your child to do so too, and how to have less of an impact on the environment.

Nappies: Whilst many people function on automatic pilot and stock up on disposables as the only sensible approach, the cotton nappy is re-emerging as a far more sustainable, green option.

The stats:
• the average baby uses about 6 000 nappies

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