small is beautiful - low impact living from today

Submitted by incoming on Wed, 2012-04-11 09:15

Probably the most important reason for lowering our impact on ecological systems is to try and reduce the rate of extinctions of species. We rely entirely on the eco-system services which our planet provides us for survival – water, energy, food.

A planet with reduced diversity is an unhealthy and unstable one. If our range of foods becomes too small, there is more risk of disease. We need wild diversity to survive.

What is sustainable living? It is reducing human impact on the ecologicalsystems of the planet, starting with one human in particular – you. As consumers we need to slow down, stop shopping and start living...

Manufacturers make short-lived goods because we buy them. We’ve been fooled into increasingly rapid loops of planned obsolescence by clever marketing, but we can change that. We need to want to live differently - not just to earn more, fly more, buy more stuff.

Curiously, people seem to get happier when they escape the never ending consuming treadmill. It is very empowering, and you can start with relatively small changes.

If enough people change the way they live, it can make a real difference. Eventually we should be able to satisfy our needs from small-scale, local production based on renewable resources, which can actually provide more jobs, job satisfaction and improve people’s quality of life.

Just start today:

  • Become more mindful about the small choices you make throughout any given day about how they may impact on the environment.
  • Calculate your ecological footprint and try to get it under one planet. Not only does reducing your carbon footprint improve your quality of life - improving your quality of live reduces your carbon footprint.
  • Take an Eco-Sabbath – one day a week of no phone, no TV, no driving, no shopping, no computer.
  • Donate 1% (or more) of your income to an environmental organisation.
  • Are you sure you can’t find a pre-owned whatever it is that you think you need? Scouring second hand stores is great fun. So is mending – if you make it a little wild.
  • Visit the Sustainable Living and Indigenous Plant Fair in 27/28/29 April at the Royal Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg to buy planet-friendly indigenous plants, fruit trees and vegetables for your homestead garden and find solutions for sustainable living.Stalls includeAfrican Conservation Trust, WESSA ‘Step up to Sustainability’, Agama Biogas, Solar Synergy, Esse organic cosmeticsand Hex worm farms. The Fresh Film Festival and Speakers Platform will feature interesting environmental movies, interspersed with speakers on fascinating topics focussed on low-carbon living. Lots of free advice and friendly encouragement. Don’t miss this chance to learn more about the simple choices you can make to reduce your footprint on the Earth and contribute to a better life for everyone.

Autumn is here and many of us are “nest building” for the cooler season. It’s time to reflect on how we affect the environment with our excessive energy needs and make some changes to lessen the burden we place on the Earth.

How fortunate we are in South Africa to have blue rather than grey skies during winter. It makes keeping warm so much easier – so make sure to let the sunshine in! Energy use usually increases in the colder months as people try to stay warm, but with constant price increases as fossil fuels deplete and the importance of cutting our carbon emissions, we need to find some planet-friendly ways to keep snug.

You’ll be spending more time indoors so focus on making your home a more human and earth-friendly environment. Here are some activity ideas to for the dark evenings ahead:

  • Wrap your geyser in a blanket
  • Close the curtains before it gets dark
  • Make draft excluder sausages for your doors (or roll up blankets)
  • Use sunny days to solar cook stews and soups
  • Chop alien wood for fires
  • Walk outdoors to soak up the rays at lunchtime
  • Wear lots of colourful layers of clothes
  • Start a flock of socks – match up odd ones rather than buying more
  • Sort out some recycling bins if you don’t already recycle
  • Make yourself some cool reusable bags so you don’t use plastic bags at the store
  • Ban harmful cleaning products so that you don’t absorb toxic fumes while indoors
  • Clean windows with vinegar & water, to let in the winter sun
  • Remove tea and coffee stains from mugs by rubbing with a little salt
  • Polish wood with a mixture of 2 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice
  • Scrub your bath with bi-carb & lemon juice, for long warming soaks
  • Then syphon your bathwater onto your vegetable garden, rather than wasting it
  • Drink lots of warm drinks (keep the extra boiled water in a thermos for later)
  • Snuggle up with a hot water bottle and a knee rug for a cosy evening read
  • Generate some human heat by dancing with your friends
  • Vacuum your refrigerator coils so your fridge works more efficiently

With these toasty tips, you won’t need to switch on the heater for the rest of the season and in doing so, help the Earth to stay cool.