Articles Posted in the Lifestyle category

E-waste drop off point in Pretoria

September 15, 2008
Posted in Lifestyle

If you live in Pretoria and you have unwanted or broken electronic equipment that you want to get rid of, drop it off at the e-waste collection point at UNISA so that it can be recycled in an environmentally acceptable way.

Johnny Clegg told delegates at a recent Gartner conference that 460 000 PCs reach “end-of-life” every day and 550 million mobile phones reach “end-of-life” every year. That’s is a lot of unwanted gadgets. This electronic waste shouldn’t be thrown away with other rubbish because it could leach toxic chemicals. It also contains a number of valuable materials, such as copper and aluminium, that can be reclaimed. The plastic from PCs can also be recycled, and it is used to make new products such as benches and fence posts.

The e-waste drop-off point in Pretoria is at UNISA’s Muckleneuk Campus. There is a container marked E-WASTE at the back of the TvW building, 3rd floor service entrance below the parking north of TvW. (Entrance: c/n of Mears street and Willem Punt).

For more information contact the E-waste Association of South Africa

Cell phone charger that doesn’t waste electricity

May 1, 2008
Posted in Lifestyle

Pocket Picks reports that Nokia has come up with a cell phone charger that switches itself off when your phone is charged. We’ve all been told to unplug our appliances at the wall because they still use electricity in standby mode. Well, the Zero Waste charger has a big green button on the back that you press to start charging and that automatically pops up when the battery’s charged. This cuts down on the amount of electricity wasted. It’s apparently still a prototype but got hold of one and posted a video on You Tube about it.

Do you have to have dishwasher hands to be green?

March 27, 2008
Posted in Lifestyle

dishwasher.jpgThere have been ads on TV lately promoting dishwashers as more energy efficient than hand washing – I took that information with a pinch of salt, coming from the appliance manufacturers as it did. But something on the Friends of the Earth website has made me take another look at the issue.

It says that research verified by the University of Bonn puts the average household water usage at 60 litres for two or three hand washes a day, while a new dishwasher typically uses 12 litres per wash. Assuming that middle-class South Africans use about the same amount of water to wash up as Europeans. This would seem to be a significant water saving.

The environmental group does point out that

What this doesn’t take into account, however, is the total energy used to manufacture the dishwasher, the transport costs and raw materials used or hand-washing habits.

You’d need to use your dishwasher’s eco-setting, of course. And, alas, environment-friendly plant-based products to use in dishwashers just don’t seem to be available in South Africa. Perhaps this is a gap in the market someone will step in to soon, though. But just maybe you don’t need to be elbow-deep in dishwater to be green after all.

For more information about dishwashers and water usage, FOE points to

Online energy saving resource

February 6, 2008
Posted in Green tips, Lifestyle

A useful resource for people who want to learn more about their household energy usage and how to choose the most energy efficient appliances is a British website call Sust-it. It provides consumer information on the energy efficiency of a long list of products ranging from washing machines to PCs to air-conditioners to LCD and plasma screens. It ranks products according to their energy efficiency and lists the power they use in watts and the amount of carbon dioxide produced in kg per year. The aim of the site is: “to make us all more energy efficient by providing consumer information on the most energy efficient products on the market”.

Go to Sust-it

Via:: Friends of the Earth

Low-power portable computing

December 16, 2007
Posted in Lifestyle

Aleutia E1

Living in Africa we have abundant sun, a power source we rarely consider when we buy yet another gadget. Now there is the Aleutia E1, an ultra low power computer setup that can be run from a roll-up solar panel or car battery and uses just 8W of power.

The Aleutia E1 is also small (3.5cm high and 11.5cm long) making it easy enough to lug along on field trip. Adding an external monitor adds about 12W to the equation, still fairly respectable. Read more

Make a greener gadget choice

December 1, 2007
Posted in Lifestyle

Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics

It’s that time of year again. With Christmas just around the corner most of us will find ourselves down at the local mall some time in the next two weeks spending our annual bonuses on shiny new electronics. Whether it’s a games console for the kids (and dad), a laptop or a mobile phone you can try and make your holiday splurge a little greener by reading the sixth edition of Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics. And once you’ve done that, you may actually want to reconsider that games console you’ve been hankering after.

Read more

E-waste: Don’t let your laptop turn toxic

June 7, 2007
Posted in Lifestyle

South Africans don’t really have a clue when it comes to recycling e-waste — old electronic equipment, like PCs, TVs, printers. Your average person on the street here probably doesn’t know that you can’t just throw e-waste out with the garbage in case it turns toxic in a landfill site. Although, fortunately, Mr Average is more likely to store old PCs and printers in a garage on the off-chance that they can be given to a good cause one day. After all, we PC owners in Africa live on a little first-world island separated from our poorer neighbours by a gaping digital divide. The problem is, nobody seems to know who to give their old PCs to. So they gather dust until Mr Average decides to clean out the garage. Then what? But things are beginning to change.

Read more

Eco-shopping: Apple gets tastier

May 15, 2007
Posted in Lifestyle

Here’s some good news for Mac lovers and people who can’t live without their iPods. Apple has declared that it plans to phase out brominated fire retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – both toxic chemicals – from its products by 2008.

Read more

Make a change: Switch off your computer and save

May 15, 2007
Posted in Green tips, Lifestyle

Switching off your computer at the end of your working day can cut the energy it consumes by 75% thereby reducing the amount of carbon-dioxide created to generate the electricity to power it by as much as 554kg a year.

Source: ZDNet “At the Whiteboard”. See also: Tectonic