Going green is no longer a mere noble idea to be chosen based on one’s preferences, it has become an absolute necessity. After the heat wave experienced recently around Africa’s Southern region, the urgency of joining the Going Green bandwagon cannot be over re-emphasized. In the article preceding this one, we had a look at the 101 matters of going green such as what going green means and why it is so important. Today we will focus on practical ways to live green and eco-awareness initiatives growing in South Africa.
Five ways to GO GREEN in your household and lifestyle
- Use organic personal products and household detergents that are made of natural substances that are readily biodegradable and cause little harm to the environment. There are many companies now manufacturing organic products and one example is Forever Living Products which manufactures aloe-vera-based products for body use, household use and consumption
- Grow and eat organic foods that do not require synthetic fertilisers and pesticides which harm the environment and are healthier for you
- Drive your vehicle less and use public transport more, to reduce the level of poisonous gases being emitted daily into the air. In South Africa’s Gauteng Province, the advent of the Gautrain has brought about –not only a more eco-friendly option of travelling –but also a cheaper and less time consuming way of getting around. If you prefer to drive yourself around then consider investing in an eco-friendly or fuel efficient vehicle (such as the Nissan Leaf, the first electric car in South Africa) and adopt green-driving practices
- Adopt electricity and water saving habits in your home and teach your children likewise. It is also worth your while investing in renewable sources of energy to power your home, such as solar power or wind turbo energy
- Get into the habit of recycling stuff in your home. Instead of always giving clean paper to your children for drawing or writing on, why not have them use the clean side of paper that has been printed on? Regularly collect all the cans, bottles, plastics and newspapers in your home and take them to recycling centers within your community. There are many community organisations in South Africa that provide the service of receiving recyclable materials
Raising Eco-awareness through Schools
In South Africa, the drive for eco-awareness is growing and two key organisations behind this important initiative are the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) and SA Green Schools Initiative (SAGSI).
WESSA launched its Ecoschools progamme 12 years ago and has reached over 1200 schools, exposing thousands of children to eco-learning. This organisation gives guidance and support to schools for implementing community, health and environmental projects and curriculum based environmental learning. They then provide annual eco-awards as a motivating goal which schools can work towards.
SAGSI, launched in 2013, by the energy forum of the Border Kei Chamber of Business, emphasises on reducing its carbon footprint through renewable energy technologies. Their pilot project, Merrifield Preparatory School and College (for Grade 00-Grade12) near East London, is raising eco-awareness among other surrounding schools and the community on greening issues and recycling and they have introduce energy saving lighting through the use of solar energy.
The current highest honour for eco-friendly education however goes to Vele Secondary School, a rural school in Limpopo which was awarded the second greenest school on earth in the Global Best of Green Schools list of 2014.
Vele currently powers 80 computers on solar panels. They harvest rainwater, recycle grey water and have toilets that are designed to work without water. Their classrooms have been architecturally designed to be naturally lit and ventilated to keep children cool during summer and warm during winter. They also have indigenous roof gardens which help to insulate classrooms and intensive vegetable and herbal gardens that provide an organic and nutritious diet for the children. The children are very involved in the eco-development of their school and this has resulted in homes in the surrounding villages being influenced, as people adopt green practices such as permaculture gardening principles and the harvesting of rain water.
Going green is no longer just a nice idea for Africa and the world at large. It has become absolutely necessary!