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Your green habits compound for nature’s gain

August 27, 2019

Green Building Council South Africa is an organisation that inspires a built environment where people and planet thrive. And one way for us to do this is to encourage better habits so that tomorrow we can all tread lighter on the environment than we did today.

So, whether at home, work or play, read through this list and adapt to a greener lifestyle.

At work

Print both sides: Change the settings on your office printer so that it prints on both sides of the page.

Sleep mode on: Standing up from your computer for more than ten minutes? Flip it to sleep mode.

Turn it off: Stepping away from your computer until tomorrow? Turn it off. Last one in the room? Turn off the lights. And if you’re the last one in the office, be sure to turn off the kitchen urn too.

Ordering catering? Support local restaurants that intentionally use food grown in a sustainable manner within a reasonable distance.

Cloth beats paper:  Use upcycled cloth wipes instead of paper towels to clean your kitchen and office furniture.

Green cleaners: Switching to sustainable cleaning products reduces air pollution (indoors and outside), reduces exposure to asthma and allergy triggers, and other chemicals that can be harmful to your health. Look for labels listing all ingredients, preferably from plant-based products.

Eco-dishwashing: After you fill the dishwasher, run it on the ‘eco’ cycle.

Recycle: Call around and see which companies will come and collect your office recyclables (think glass, paper or plastic) for free.

Park once: If driving to work try to only use the car for your daily commute, and walk or cycle to your nearby meetings.

Slow down: You burn through more (fossil) fuel to cover the same distance when driving faster, and it’s also more expensive.

Air in: Keep your tyres at the correct air pressure, your car will run more efficiently.

Air out: Replace your air filters as often as recommended. A new oxygen sensor alone can have a marked improvement on fuel economy.

At home

Get planting: We often grow our own herbs, if you can, why not grow your own vegetables? Start with a small patch and watch it grow.

Compost organic waste: You already recycle paper, plastic and tins. The next step to reducing the amount of waste you send to landfill is to compost your food and garden waste. Add these extra nutrients back into the local ecosystem, the birds and the bees will love you for it!

Increased efficiency: Benefit from technological advances and consciously purchase electrical appliances that have an energy efficiency label.

Reusable shopping bags: So many plastic bags end up clogging up our landscapes and oceans. Don’t give the bags you use the opportunity to do the same. Get some reusable bags and use them.

Reusable water bottles: The same principle applies; buy an inexpensive reusable water bottle instead of using non-biodegradable single-use plastic bottles.

Cups and straws: The cups and straws you buy do not have to pollute the environment, get those which quickly decompose once thrown away. Hint: this doesn’t include plastic or polystyrene.

Cold setting: Washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot gives you clean clothes while reducing your electricity bill.

Heat just enough: Whether you’re heating water for coffee, cooking or washing, heat the least amount of water necessary.

Collect rainwater: Never pay to water your garden or fill up your pool again.

Dripping taps: Fix them. And while you’re at it, fit low-flow faucets and shower heads.

Get great insulation: Why keep on turning up the air conditioner or underfloor heating, and the amount of coal-powered electricity you are using, when improving your insulation can give you the comfort without the cost?

Meat-free Mondays: Starting as a 2003 campaign to improve the health of people, and the health of the planet, there has never been a better time to make Monday’s meat-free.

Don’t dump, donate: When you donate an item of clothing, or furniture, besides preventing it from going to landfill, you may well prevent another item being produced, along with its associated carbon footprint.

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