12 easy steps to your 'green' success

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25 Jan 2013

Environmental awareness is sweeping the globe and yet many people hesitate to do their bit because they don't believe there is anything they can do to help.

Creating a wormery can reduce your organic waste by half, and worms create great fertiliser and compost, which you can use in your garden.

Jodi Lynn Karpes from Green Queen Communications says being environmentally conscious should come naturally and be a way of living.

Michelle Garforth-Venter, co-author of the book The Green Line - a South African guide to green living, and Jodi Lynnshare steps a household can take each month in order to reduce the carbon footprint they leave behind.

1. Installing a heat pump or solar geyser is the best place to start and can dramatically reduce the amount of energy you use in your home. Heat pumps reduce the flow from your geyser while solar geysers use solar power to heat up the water.

Tip: Karpes advises homeowners to put dustbins in the bathrooms and avoid flushing dental floss and tissues down the toilet unnecessarily, as it wastes water.

Buy extra bins in order to divide your recycling. Clearly label each dustbin so you dont confuse anyone.

2. If you haven’t started already, replace all the incandescent light bulbs in your home with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Eurolux has the widest range of LED bulbs that fit just about any light fitting, including down lights. LED lights use less electricity without heating up as much as incandescent ones and can save you a lot of money.

3. Create a wormery. This is a great way to get rid of organic waste and the red wiggler worms will eat anything from eggshells to teabags. The worm produces a liquid fertiliser, which Michelle uses and says you will not have to use any pesticides. A harder compost is also produced which works wonders in gardens.

Tip: Look around in your suburb for a company, like Whole Earth, that will collect your recyclable items.

4. Install a sink grinder. Otherwise known as a garbage disposal unit, sink grinders are a device installed under the kitchen sink and used to shred anything you can't make into compost, such as meat bones or gravy and rice etc. Once the waste has been shredded, it is then small enough to pass through the house plumbing and sewage system.

Using collapsible or JoJo tanks to collect rainwater can save you money and water, as it can be used for irrigating the garden.

5. Buy extra bins to use to sort out your recycling. Aim to reduce your organic waste to the size of a shoe box, using the sink grinder. Karpes says your recycling bin should be bigger than your dustbin and you should keep your paper, organic waste and batteries separate so they can be disposed of properly.

6. Michelle refers to plastic bags as the "serial killer of the animal world". Not only do plastic bags require a lot of energy and petroleum to produce, but they take hundreds of years to biodegrade. Animals will eat through a plastic bag to get to any food inside and the bag will poison and kill it. She suggests you collect bags in the boot of your car for when you go shopping and aim to buy less of them, and use more cotton bags instead.

Tip: You can buy recyclable cotton bags at local superstores like Woolworths and Checkers.

7. Collect rainwater by using collapsible tanks or JoJo tanks and placing them under rafter corners and clean gutters. Collected rainwater can be used for garden irrigation, washing your car and if filtered and treated correctly, it can be used by humans to drink and cook with.

8. Install a red water diverter. Red water refers to the water that is wasted while waiting for the water in the hot tap to warm up. A red water diverter is installed in high hot water usage spots like the kitchen and bathrooms and diverts cold water into your swimming pool or garden irrigation system, depending on the plumbing plans of your house.

Tip: Karpes suggests you install water efficient, low pressure showerheads in the bathrooms and turn off the water when lathering up your hair and soaping your body.

Taking one 'green' step can have a dramatic effect on the environment and encourages other poeple to do the same.

9. Boiling a kettle full of water to make one cup of tea can waste a lot of energy. Michelle suggests installing a hot water dispenser. This produces hot water instantly and is fitted beside your kitchen sink. It saves you water and electricity, but can be costly to install. The cheaper option would be to boil a full kettle and empty it into a flask to use around the office all day.

10. Invest in a solar cooker. Your oven is the third highest puller of energy in your house, but a solar cooker can do everything an oven does at half the cost. It also cooks food in a healthier way as it does not use oil or fat.

11. Buy an efergy energy monitor. These wireless devices monitor how much electricity you use throughout the house and convert it into rands to show just how much you spend. It also provides you with advice on how to save energy throughout your home.

12. Karpes recommends using biodegradable cleaning and body products, as all of our water is recycled and becomes drinking water, so whatever goes down the drain 'goes down the gullet.' She also encourages people to give leftover food away, instead of tossing it in the dustbin.

Bank reward programmes such as Nedbank's Greenbacks and First National Bank's ebucks allow clients to use their accumulated credit to buy eco-friendly products such as solar powered lights and Eco Zone dryer balls for your tumble dryer.

By doing just one of these steps each month, you will help your family save money and reduce your impact on the environment. It doesn’t take much, but changing the way you think and use appliances in your home could save you a lot of money in the long run. Victoria Taylor

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