There is no avoiding the fact that global warming and climate change is real and it’s happening. According to Nasa, “It is undeniable that human activities have warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land and that widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere have occurred”. The result of this is what we see happening today – strange weather patterns, hotter summers, colder winters, raging fires, unpredictable floods and more.
Every bit helps when it comes to making a positive impact on the environment to counter the damage that has been done to our planet over the years. We might think that our small changes won’t make a difference, but it all adds up.
So, here are five things to do to become more environmentally friendly.
Buy in-season produce
“Not only do in-season fruits and vegetables taste better and fresher, but it’s also so much better for the environment to shop this way,” says Chef Norman Heath of Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront.
In-season fresh produce is produced locally and doesn’t have to be imported from another country. Importing fruits and vegetables uses massive amounts of fuel and energy – the cost of which is often passed on to the consumer.
“So, not only will you be saving the environment by shopping in-season, but you will also save yourself a lot of money,” says Heath.
He continues: “Every season we refresh our menu not only to keep it fresh, but also to ensure that we’re using in-season fresh ingredients in almost everything that we offer”.
With Eskom forecasting at least 100 days of load shedding during the next six months, introducing solar as an alternative source of energy is not only good for the planet, it will also keep the lights on. “You can start with just a battery and add some solar panels later, or start with solar panels only,” says Matthew Cruise, lead campaign manager for Hohm Energy. “I recommend researching the various options open to consumers towards becoming a net-zero carbon emitter. Few consumers know about the possibilities of having a solar installation on your home financed through your bond, or a rent-to-own model.”
If you are able to store solar power to use during peak periods when electricity supply is constrained, you will help relieve demand on the power grid and reduce the need for load shedding.
One way of contributing to environmental sustainability is by reducing the amount of stuff we use and eventually discard. Tapping into the subscription economy makes it easier to enjoy a product on a subscription basis while it is needed, instead of buying something that will eventually be thrown away.
“Consumer behaviour is undergoing a paradigm shift as the value once associated with ownership is changing and diminishing,” says Jonathan Hurvitz, CEO of Teljoy. “People want the convenience and flexibility of a model that reacts more dynamically to their needs. This notion of a shared economy means less waste, which is ultimately good for the environment.”
Hurvitz adds, “Businesses have a responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint which is why Teljoy partners with Interwaste to ensure that all e-waste is disposed of in a responsible and eco-friendly way.”
Be part of the solution, become a tree champion
“There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to climate change,” says Linda Saunders, Head of Solution Engineering, Salesforce South Africa “We need a combination of activities that require emissions from fossil fuel-based sources, and initiatives that maintain and improve carbon sinks, which remove carbon from the atmosphere. Forests are the most powerful instrument we have for reversing the effects of land-use change and deforestation. Every day, trees help to conserve biodiversity, clean the air, prevent soil erosion, purify the water, and improve the grace and beauty of our homes and communities.
“By incorporating sustainability into our actions, we can all make a difference. If we work together, we can mobilise millions of new tree champions to encourage governments to halt further deforestation,” she adds.
Use local suppliers for outside help
This might seem like an odd one, but think about it – isn’t it better to use suppliers and tradespeople who don’t have to travel long distances? This uses less fuel and energy. So, when you’re in need of services, check your local paper or even your local Facebook group for someone in your area. You could also take a look at SweepSouth and SweepSouth Outdoor services. The app will automatically source someone that resides close by and won’t have to travel long distances to get to your home. Alen Ribic, Co-founder of SweepSouth, also suggests that when you book a SweepStar, you ensure that the products you have in your home for them to use are good for the environment.
The responsibility of protecting the environment lies with us all. If done together on a global scale, our practical, everyday actions can have a significant impact. In the words of the Dalai Lama: “It is our collective and individual responsibility to preserve and tend to the environment in which we all live.”