Forget thoughtlessly leaving a light on or unnecessarily using the air conditioning. Mindless electricity consumption needs to become a thing of the past.
Becoming more conscious of your choices and making little changes to the way you consume energy is crucial not only for your bank balance but also for the planet. These changes could mean relying more on renewable energy or swapping to a reusable cup at your local coffee shop.
But how else can you make more environmentally friendly choices?
1. Line dry your clothes
Did you know tumble-dryers are one of the most expensive home appliances to run? They require more energy than a fridge, microwave or dishwasher!
Line-drying clothes should be the first choice for homeowners in South Africa, particularly as the air temperature is mild even in winter. However, if tumble-drying is your only option, make sure you are using your appliance efficiently by cleaning the lint filters and drying a full load rather than only a few items.
2. Use less ‘stuff’
Another way to minimise unnecessary consumption is by reducing your online shopping. ‘Fast fashion’, as it is known, is defined as cheap clothing produced to meet current trends as quickly as possible.
Not only is fast fashion often unethically manufactured, but it is also extremely harmful to the environment. The vibrant dye used in clothes falling under the ‘fast fashion’ category usually contains toxic chemicals and pollutes water. To avoid fast fashion, ask yourself whether you truly need the items you are purchasing. If you do, consider whether there is a more sustainable way to buy what you need.
3. Restrict your water usage
The ongoing drought in Southern Africa has affected millions. The seemingly endless dry days have resulted in immense freshwater shortages, so it is vital to monitor water consumption now more than ever.
Keep your showers short, fill up the kettle with the right amount of water and turn the tap off while you are brushing your teeth. These are just a handful of ways you can control your water usage day-to-day.
4. Keep an eye on your printing
If you work in an office, you have likely got a printer. While your paper supply may appear endless, make sure you think before you print. Take the time to check every document you print to avoid printing twice. Being mindful in this way caps the paper used and is a simple way to do your bit for the planet.
5. Curb your car travel
Wherever possible, make use of the advances in technology and latest apps to organise an online meeting. It is not always necessary to travel (particularly via car or plane!) when a video call or conference will suffice. If it is essential to meet face-to-face, try to use public transport such as a bus service or the train.
6. Choose clean power over fossil fuels
Of course, renewable energy is one of the most effective ways to tackle climate change and simultaneously reduce your monthly spending. Sustainable power sources such as wind energy, hydroelectricity and tidal energy are all excellent alternatives to fossil fuels.
However, solar power is the renewable option best suited to South Africa thanks to the country’s high levels of annual sunshine. Solar is a simple way to become self-sufficient and reduce your environmental impact at home or in the workplace. While there are upfront costs associated with installing a solar project, it does not take long to break even.
Using a grid-tied or hybrid system means you will be reducing your carbon footprint every day without a second thought. The average 6kW home solar system produces roughly 8,500kWh of electricity a year, saving 6.3 metric tonnes of CO2 a year. By comparison, a typical vehicle emits just under five metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually — meaning a solar installation will effectively offset your driving emissions! As such, a solar installation means you can use your electricity without guilt and without concerns of being cut off by load shedding.
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