What goes in comes out and what is out will come in! Everything is interconnected and so just as it is important to love ourselves so is it important to love the world that we live in. It is it pretty pointless to pay attention to our skin without paying attention to the environment in which it breathes.
The remarkable thing is that becoming more eco-conscious really is that simple – you just have to care enough to want to do it. It does not matter either whether you go the full yard or just start changing your habits one by one. You will be quite amazed at the difference that just the smallest changes will make you feel about your environment and yourself and ultimately the difference that the smallest changes will make to the quality of the earth on which we all depend.
The notion that one person or one act cannot make a difference is completely misguided. Believe in the power of one and become a role model to those around you.
Green Tips to Lighten your Load on the Earth
Try and condense your waste as much as possible so that it takes up less space in the landfill by squashing what you can before you throw it away.
Use our recycling index to find out where the closest depot is and use it. If you do not live near a depot then phone your nearest school to check whether they recycle and drop your stuff off there.
Try to rinse your cans and glass before you recycle them.
Remove any lids, corks or metal foil from bottles.
Donate old clothes or household items that are still in good condition to charities or others in need.
Don’t just throw away old textiles – rather cut them and use them for cleaning purposes.
Repair things rather than throw them away.
Nursery schools can make good use of the inside core of toilet rolls and paper towels, egg boxes, cereal boxes and jam jars.
Used motor oil can be handed in for recycling at your local garage.
If there is not a depot near you, don’t forget that glass and plastic bottles with deposits can be returned to shops for re-use. Likewise, milk bottles are re-used by distributors.
Start a compost heap for your garden refuse. It’ll save you money and your garden will look greener than ever.
Re-use envelopes by sticking labels over the old address; make sure you use both sides of notepaper.
In the Supermarket
Natural Alternatives to Cleaning Products
Use lemon juice to clean, dissolve soap scum and get rid of stains.
Vinegar acts as a natural all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant. Be sure to use one part vinegar, one part water. The smell will go away once the mixture has dried!
Bicarbonate of soda can be used to wipe down counter tops, sinks and ovens – just sprinkle some on a sponge and wipe!
Always try and buy products that are re-useable or have refills like washing powder, spices, etc, so you don’t have to discard the old packaging and start again.
Buy cleaning and household products that are labelled organic, non-toxic, or bio-degradable. Beware of products however that are trying to “greenwash” you by using words like bio or green in their product title or descriptions. Always double-check the ingredient lists or look on the bottle to see if there are any stamps of certification to back up the claims.
Use paints and sealants with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOC). They don’t smell as bad, and they offer the same quality, cost and colours as traditional paints.
Switch to Fair Trade and organic coffee and tea, and buy as much organic and local food as possible.
Use your own shopping bag or reuse plastic bags rather than take yet another plastic bag from the supermarket. You can save quite a bit over the long run too!
Try keeping some spare bags in your car so that you can do last minute shopping without having to buy new bags.
You can also ask your supermarket to take back used shopping bags.
Wash and dry plastic bags for re-use where possible.
Avoid buying over-packaged goods like cling wrapped vegetables.
If you are buying loose veggies or fruit, weigh them separately but put them all in the same paper bags. You can just stick all the price labels into the same bag. You can even stick the labels directly onto fruit and veg that have harder skins.
Buy products made from recycled materials, or packaged in them.
Use rechargeable batteries where possible, cloth dishtowels and napkins instead of paper ones, and refillable ink pens.
Avoid disposable plates, cups and cutlery.
Buy in bulk where possible to reduce the amount of packaging required.
Choose returnable or reusable containers.
Glass is 100% recyclable so try and buy glass packaging rather than plastic packaging where possible.
Buy carbon neutral CDs where you can. The Foo Fighters, Massive Attack, Coldplay and Feeder are just some of the artists who have gone ‘carbon neutral’. This basically means that they support projects that neutralise the greenhouse gases produced by their CD or tour.
Borrowing from libraries, instead of buying personal books and movies, saves money and printing resources.
Did You Know?
Each household in South Africa generates approximately 1 tonne of waste per year!
Turn off unnecessarily lights!
Also, utilise smaller lights, such as a desktop lamp. A small lamp will use much less wattage than the giant bulbs on an overhead light fixture.
Using energy saving life bulbs will save the atmosphere about 0.8 tonnes of CO2 a year.
There is no need to be cold but try turning down your heaters and thermostats down just a little. A reduction by even just 2 degrees will save you about 10% from your heating bill.
Arrange furniture so it does not block heating and air system vents and return registers.
Switching off your TV, video, DVD or stereo at the set stops the extra 10-60 percent electricity used by being on standby. If just 10 households switched off their TV sets properly, 1 tonne of CO2 would be saved.
Use full loads in your washing machine to save electricity, water and time!
Buy plants for your home! Not only are they aesthetically pleasing to the eye but they also remove indoor pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene.
Store food in the fridge in re-useable, airtight containers, rather than plastic cling film, tinfoil or plastic bags.
Old jars and plastic containers make ideal pots for seedlings.
When you put the kettle on you don’t need to fill it – only use the water you need and don’t keep boiling it. Make the tea when it’s boiled the first time.
When you boil water, put a lid on the pot. The water boils faster, using less energy. Also, make sure the burner pans are clean and shiny, so they’ll reflect more heat and save energy.
Make sure your fridge and freezer run efficiently by defrosting regularly and setting to the right temperature. When there’s too much ice in a freezer it uses more electricity try to stay at the correct temperature.
Don’t leave the tap running while you are washing your face or your teeth.
Try and use organic or natural products where possible so that you are not flushing more toxins down the drain every time you take a shower or wash your hands.
Staple together paper that has only been used on one side to make a note book.
Think twice before your print and when you do print on both sides or use the back side of old documents for faxes, scrap paper, or drafts.
Avoid colour printing and print in draft mode where possible.
Buy remanufactured ink cartridges. According to the Office Depot each remanufactured toner cartridge “keeps approximately 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills…and conserves about 3.8 litres of oil”.
When you receive unwanted junk mail, request to be removed from the mailing list before you recycle the item.
Make it a habit to recycle everything your company collects.
Make it a habit to turn off your computer off at the plug point when you leave for the day.
During the day, setting your computer to go to sleep automatically during short breaks can cut energy use by 70 percent. Remember, screen savers don’t save energy.
Make it a habit to bring your own mug and dishware for those meals you eat at the office.
Make it a policy to provide reusable dishes, silverware, and glasses.
Switch to Fair Trade and organic coffee and tea, and buy as much organic and local food as possible for parties and other events.
Some Great Green Policies you Could Encourage your Work to Adopt
Buy chlorine-free paper with a higher percentage of post-consumer recycled content.
Switch to a lighter stock of paper or alternatives made from bamboo, hemp, organic cotton, or kenaf.
Post all notices and manuals online. They’re easier to update that way too.
Place recycling bins in accessible, high-traffic areas with clear instructions on what can and cannot be recycled.
Invest in energy-saving computers, monitors, and printers and make sure that old equipment is properly recycled. Look for a recycler that has pledged not to export hazardous e-waste and to follow other safety guidelines.
Recycle your old computers, printers and ink – information in our recycling index
Provide filtered drinking water to reduce bottled-water waste.
Invest videoconferencing and other technological solutions that can reduce the amount of employee travel. Make it a policy to buy furniture, carpeting, and paint that are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)