By Khanyisile Msebenzi
We are depleting the Earth of her capacity to maintain life, creatures, flora as we know it, we are strangling our planet Earth. Climate change experts say we are at a tipping point, others say we have already passed the point of no return. That, we have destroyed the Earth and we now wait for doomsday. Either way, we definitely can slow our own destruction down. It was World Recycling Day on the 18th of March, but we should have the recycling and pollution conversation every day.
We are already seeing increased volcanic action, we are seeing changes in weather patterns that are having detrimental effects on humanity, fauna and flora. The ice-caps are melting faster than ever recorded and the recent Cyclone Idai are all results of climate change.
What Can We Do?
Each one of us can do things differently to make things “lighter” for our Mother Earth. We have become accustomed to convenience that we think it is right to do things a certain way, when sometimes it’s actually that we have become lazy, which has its own effects on our health. So we need to rethink the way we do things.
3 Easy Things We Can Stop Doing
- We need to take better care when purchasing any product. Carrying our own reusable drinking bottle and add a fruit like lemon, drinking pure lemon water (not flavoured) assists in keeping us healthy. Lemon is an alkaliser in your body, our bodies function best in an alkaline environment. Single use water bottles are suffocating our rivers, oceans and ocean-life, literally. We don’t need single use water bottles.
- We need to stop using plastic straws when taking in drinks, we don’t need straws. Straws are a very costly convenience, very costly on the environment and animal life. Every day sea life is dying because of straws that find their way to rivers, seas and oceans.
- We need to stop using plastic shopping bags, they are a huge convenience, especially that time we run into the store because we forgot something and end up buying more than what we came for, but we will get used to bringing our reusable bags along all the time.
3 Things We Can Do Differently
We can recycle! This is the easiest way to reverse damage and reduce our carbon pollution. Recycled plastic requires 76% less energy to produce than plastic products made from virgin materials, whilst glass needs 21% less energy. Recycling also leads to the reduction in use of landfills and incinerators, these are taking up space and cause pollution. Did you know, recycling one tonne of paper can ultimately save 17 trees and 26,000 litres of water!
- If your community, suburb or township does not have separate pick ups for waste that can be recycled and waste that cannot be recycled, then start mobilizing for this service to be offered. For example, in some parts of the City of Johannesburg this service is offered on separate days, Thursday is for waste that can be recycled and Friday is for waste that is not going to recycling centres. The least we can do is make sure the waste we produce goes to recycling centres. Unfortunately in South Africa we do not yet have enough recycling centres. We should put pressure on our municipalities to ensure there are a sufficient number of recycling centres.
- Make sure that what we consume is from recycled material. There are more products now that come in recycled packaging or paper packaging or packaging that can be reused many times over. Product manufacturers will be forced to stop using virgin plastic materials if consumers reject such packaging.
- Make it easy for you and your family to recycle by having separate bins in the house as well as outside. Have a separate bin for paper and plastic packaging, and teach everyone what they can put in which bin, in no time everyone in the family will find it easy to separate waste.
Bonus Recommendation – Start Your Own Veggie Garden
If we all started growing our own vegetable gardens we would decrease a lot of waste we produce. Think of all the plastic packaging the vegetables we buy come in, then there are the chemicals our vegetable growers use. No matter where you live or the size of your dwelling, there is a way to grow your own vegetables, the benefits of this are numerous, including saving you large amounts of money!