Articles Posted in the Lifestyle category

Join a community drive to clean up the Jukskei River

April 2, 2009
Posted in Lifestyle


Stretch of the Jukskei River. Photo by NJR ZA. Licenced under Creative Commons licence

A group of volunteers in Douglasdale in northern Johannesburg have decided to start a clean up campaign on the Klein Jukskei River and want other people in the community to get involved.

“It is in a state of absolute filth. The banks of the river are disgustingly littered with household rubbish,” says Candice Smith, who organised the clean-up campaign.

Candice is a firm believer in the idea that if a group of people work together for the collective good then change is inevitable.

“I am rounding up support in my complex, trying to get the residents involved and I would like to extend this to the rest of the community that makes use of the area (dog walkers, kids, etc). Although currently not many people want to use it and, frankly, I don’t blame them.”

But think of the “Broken Windows” theory, says Candice. If a building has a few broken windows that are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building. The same could apply to a river where litter accumulates. Eventually, people may even start dumping bags of rubbish there.

“What impact would this have on the surrounding community?” Candice asks. “We can’t continue to sit back and allow it to be someone else’s problem.”

Candice has gathered together a team of volunteers who will meet once a month to clean up the river banks. It’s not just a chance to do something for the environment, it’s a great way to get to know the people in your community, she says.

The first community clean up effort is going to be on Saturday, April 4, at 9h00.

If you’re interested in joining in, the group plans to meet outside the new Covenant Church Complex along Hornbill Road. You can contact Candice on 082 442 0068 or candice.smith[at]caterplus[dot]co[dot]za.

“Small acts can and will lead to big changes!”

Get out the house, go to a green market

March 31, 2009
Posted in Lifestyle


Pretoria’s botanical garden is a fabulous place to spend a lovely autumn day. There are hundreds of big trees to sit under and picnic and, just outside the entrance gate, there’s a restaurant with an outside balcony that has a great view over a pond and the gardens.

This Saturday morning you have the perfect excuse to visit the gardens because the Green market just happens to be on (April 4). It happens on every first Saturday of the month.

This week’s theme is Reduce.Reuse.Recycle and the organisers are calling on all artists/entrepreneurs to come and sell/exhibit all their creative arts products made from recycled materials. “We need revamped clothes (clothes made new with old clothes etc), scrap metal arts, handmade paper, plastic, tin, glass and electronic waste arts and products … and so much more,” they say.

So if you’re interested in taking part or know of someone who might be interested – you may want to give a speech on recycling or give a creative educational demo, for instance – send an email to Melissa at greenmelilly [at] gmail [dot] com. Or just pack a picnic basket and go and commune with nature for a while.

Earth Hour was fun, let’s do it more often

March 31, 2009
Posted in Lifestyle

Tapei 101 building, via

I decided to measure my household’s contribution to Earth Hour on Saturday to get an idea of what switching off my lights for an hour could potentially mean for the planet. (I have an energy monitor called The Owl.) Turns out that my household consumption dropped by 250 watts. In South Africa, this means that 24kg less carbon dioxide was pumped into the air because of me. (In SA, 0.978kg of CO2 are emitted for every 1 kWh of electricity).

To be honest, we did go a bit further than switching off the lights. We also switched off two PCs and the television. We lit some candles inside the house and sat on the back steps looking at the stars, enjoying a very peaceful evening – and a family conversation! It’s amazing what can happen when there’s no TV.

In fact, it was so nice that we’ve decided to do it more often.

My 250W saving is apparently the equivalent of planting 0.1 trees. So if I switched off my lights for an hour once a month for a year, it would be the equivalent of planting a tree.

Apparently more than 1,000 cities took part in Earth Hour. Click here for an amazing collection of Earth Hour “before and during” pics from around the world.

State electricity utility Eskom says that South Africans “contributed 400MW of electricity savings to Earth Hour”. That’s 10 percent of the output of a whole power station – Witbank’s Kendal power station, for example,  produces around 4,100MW.

It’s also a saving of 400 tons of carbon dioxide, 224 tons of coal and some 576 kilolitres of water, says Dr Steve Lennon, Eskom’s MD for corporate services and its “climate change champion”.

“The 400MW translates to about 4 million 100W bulbs or 6,7 million 60W bulbs switched off on Saturday. This shows a concerted effort by approximately 1 million households,” he said.

Can anyone seriously say that it isn’t worth taking part in Earth Hour?

(Update: Corrected a typo to read: That’s 10 percent of the output of a whole power station – Witbank’s Kendal power station, for example, produces around 4,100MW)

Green market at Pretoria botanical gardens

February 4, 2009
Posted in Lifestyle

flyerThis Saturday (Feb 7), pack your picnic blankets and head over to the National Botanical Gardens in Pretoria for the Green Market.

There’s live entertainment: Leon Ecroignard from ‘Optelgoed is Dansgoed’ will make music from recyclable trash (which should be interesting) and you can see fun interactive demonstrations of the Nia technique, which is a combination of dancing, martial arts, yoga etc, and much more.

Products on sale range from natural raw foods and drinks, green baby products, natural make-up and skin care, solar products and other energy saving products, worm farms and recycled art.

There’s also a recycling station where you the public can bring your clean recyclable trash. You can bring plastic; polystyrene; dry, clean paper; glass; cans and electronic waste like cellphones, old broken printers, CD’s and any electronic device you want to get rid of.

The market is a way to educate and raise awareness of the importance and the benefits of a greener lifestyle, say the organisers. So they urge people to bring their families and friends together with their picnic blankets and shopping bags for a nice eco-conscious day in the gardens.

If you need more info or if you’re interested in supporting the event or participating, you can contact Melissa at greenmelilly [at] gmail [dot] com

Make a change 10: Watch that hot tap

January 29, 2009
Posted in Green tips, Lifestyle

hot taps

Here’s an interesting fact from Scientific American’s recently published Earth 3.0 magazine.

“Running hot water at a sink for five minutes uses the same amount of energy as burning a 60-watt lightbulb for 14 hours.”

I did a test at home using an electricity monitor I bought called The Owl and found that after running the hot tap for about 20 seconds, the Owl registered an increase in my household electricity usage of around 1,800 watts for 2 minutes. That means my electric geyser had switched on for 2 minutes.

Save electricity and lower your carbon footprint (electricity in South Africa is mostly generated by carbon-belching coal-fired power stations) by being mindful of the amount of hot water you use. Make sure your hot taps are switched off properly and don’t use hot water for things like washing your hands or rinsing dishes when cold water will do the job just as well.

Winning designer thinks ‘out of the bag’

January 23, 2009
Posted in Lifestyle


Pick ‘n Pay chose 24-year-old graphic designer Charlotte Coetzee’s entry as the design for its new limited edition ecofriendly bag. Coetzee won R20,000 for winning the web-based competition, which drew 386 design entries and nearly 55,000 votes. The bags will be manufactured by Township Patterns, a group of women from Cape Town Townships, and will be made from locally sourced natural materials. The bags will reportedly be available in Pick n Pay stores around the country from March.

Learn the story behind the stuff you buy

December 13, 2008
Posted in Lifestyle

story-of-stuffHave you every wondered where the stuff you buy comes from and what happens to it when you throw it away? Annie Leonard did, but she went further than most of us and decided to find out. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute film that tells you what she discovered.

Leonard is an activist who has spent the past 10 years travelling around the world fighting environmental threats – she’s apparently even been to South Africa – so she knows a thing or two.

In the Story of Stuff she looks at the real costs of extraction, production, distribution, consumption and disposal, and she isolates the moment in history where she says the trend of consumption mania began. She manages to be very informative, without being preachy, and the cute graphics keep things light and highly watchable.

The film underscores the importance of recycling and CONSCIOUS consumption.

This is a good little film to watch before you do your Christmas shopping because it might make you pause and think a bit more carefully about what you spend your money on.

If you’ve got an ADSL line and lots of bandwith you might want to watch it straight off the site, or you can download a copy (50MB) and share it with your friends.

Japanese ecofriendly gift wrapping

December 11, 2008
Posted in Green tips, Lifestyle

Furoshiki gift wrapping from RecycleNow on Vimeo

Here’s a tree-friendly way to wrap your gifts this Christmas. With Japanese Furoshiki you can use a pretty scarf or any piece of beautiful material rather than paper – and it’s 100 percent reusalbe. Watch the video from RecycleNow (the UK’s official recycling campaign) for a few wrapping ideas, or download the pdf below for more instructions. You’ve still got plenty of time to practise.

Thanks to Jennifer for the idea.

Design an ecofriendly bag for Pick n Pay

December 2, 2008
Posted in Lifestyle

Pick n Pay is looking for amateur designers to create a design for new ecofriendly bags that may be sold in stores around the country. You have until January 5 2009 to come up with something stylish and desirable. Thousands of rands worth of prizes are up for grabs. For everything you need to know about entering or voting for your favourite design, go to Pick n Pay‘s website.

Guide to climate friendlier gadgets

November 26, 2008
Posted in Business, Lifestyle

The lastest Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics has just been released and this time, in the run-up to the big UN climate change talks in Poland next week, the focus is on climate leadership.

Consumer electronics can play an important role in moving the world towards a low-carbon future, but most companies have been slow to get serious about climate change, says Greenpeace. Although they have made “gradual” improvements on toxic and e-waste issues over the past few years, only a minority of consumer electronics companies are really leading on energy and climate change. And now Greenpeace wants them to step up to the challenge and show leadership.

Since June, the greener electronics guide has examined companies on their climate and energy criteria, which include, their direct emissions, their product performance, their use of renewable energy and their political support for emission cuts. And here’s what Greenpeace found:

Of the 18 market-leading companies included, only Sharp, Fujitsu Siemens and Philips show full support for the necessary emissions cuts of 30 percent for industrial nations by 2020.

Only HP and Philips have made commitments to make substantial cuts in their own emissions from the product manufacture and supply chain.

All the other companies in the guide make “vague or essentially meaningless statements about global emissions reductions and have no plans to make absolute emissions cuts themselves”.

Many companies have gained points from their products’ efficiency improvements.

Most companies use little renewable energy. Nokia, which is still in the number one spot, sources 25 percent of its total electricity use from renewable energy and is committed to sourcing 50 percent by 2010.

Other brands with points for renewable energy use are FSC, Microsoft, Toshiba, Motorola and Philips.

Although Philips and HP score well on energy issues, Greenpeace says they’re position on toxics is letting them down.

Those who score well on toxic chemical criteria already have products on the market free of the worst substances, including Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, FSC and Sharp.

Overall, the biggest moves up the ranking are Motorola, (from 15th to joint 7th), Toshiba (from 7th to 3rd) and Sharp, (up from 16th to 10th).

The companies falling down the ranking are the PC brands Acer, Dell, HP and Apple. Although Apple drops a place, it has improved its total score this time because of better reporting on the carbon footprint of its products, and although not scoring any extra points, its new iPods are now free of both PVC and brominated flame retardants.

Read more about how the companies fared.

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