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Going Green isn’t just for Aliens

by Robyn Tichauer

If you read our last article, you’d know why going green is so important. Here we explain how you can live sustainably in your everyday routine.

Living sustainably is much easier than you think. If you missed our last article with Simon and Devan, read it here. They wrote a really cool book titled “Green Is Not A Colour: Environmental Issues Every Generation Needs To Know” that provides a practical outlook on how everyone, from students, to educators, to families, and industry professionals can make a positive impact on our planet and seek a lifestyle and career that makes a difference.

They explain here how living a more sustainable life can be a lot easier and more enjoyable than many think. I know I get caught up in the trap of a comfort zone too, but it’s actually less intimidating than you’d think. Simon gave us some simple tips to start changing the way that we do things and we added in our own simple changes.

Green is Not a Colour

A few Tips on how you can live Sustainably at Home or at Varsity:

You don’t need to spend tons of money to live a sustainable life. There are some simple changes that can make the world of a difference. And when people ask why you do things differently, tell them why and encourage them to do the same. People like to follow trends. If they see that you or someone else is doing it, they’re more likely to follow.

“The fundamental resources within a household are water and energy”, as Simon points out. When you want to change something you generally start at the fundamentals and work your way up from there.

Here are some simple tips on how you can live more sustainably:

Area of sustainability Simon’s & Devan’s Advice Other ideas:
Water: In a draught or just to use water sparingly: When you shower, leave a bucket in the shower so that you can use that to water your garden. You can do the same with bathing.

If it’s within your power, I think installing grey water systems is a great idea. This type of system recycles the water in your home whereby shower and tap water can go through a filtration system to water your garden.

  • Turn the shower off when you shave your legs
  • Water the garden less and leave the grass for a while
  • Be careful with swimming pools, inflatable or built-in
  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth
Energy: A lot of debate and research takes place at universities. And that’s your opportunity to question things. Question conventional thinking and question the way the world is run.

With energy… Do you leave all of your lights on at home? Do you turn your geyser off when you’re not using it? How often do you boil the kettle? Are you using energy saving lightbulbs?

The way you get around, do you have a car? Is it easier for you to walk, to use public transport, or to cycle?

  • Use Tupperware instead of cling wrap and foil
  • Be sparing with aircon and heating. Unless it’s unbearable use open windows/drafts/ fans/ hot water bottles, etc.
Food: With food… am I buying meat and vegetables that are organically sourced or grass fed? You can separate your organic waste from your non-organic. So their organic waste they can use to make compost, or if the municipality has a recycling system when they collect trash, they can easily distinguish between what’s what. Separate recyclable materials like glass and tins from normal waste, in order for them to be recycled.

We should be looking to buy foods that are seasonal, as they require less water that way. Organic food is a must as it contains no pesticides. Pesticides not only pose a threat to our health but also cause problems to the natural environment. We should also look for ways to reduce our meat intake. Cows, sheep, and pigs consume large amounts of water and food that could otherwise be used in better ways.

  • Use coffee from your machine or capsules as compost (if you use Nespresso, you can return the capsules to Nespresso and they will recycle it for you – they even give you a special bag for it)
  • Don’t waste food – dish up what you will finish; try not to let food expire, give restaurant leftovers to the less fortunate (restaurants will just throw it away)
Recycling and littering: It’s more behavioural than anything else. In the beginning it’s an inconvenience and then you become used to it – and then its something that you enjoy doing without noticing it. Separate your glass, metal, and paper from your other trash as these materials can be recycled effectively.
  • Using a reusable grocery bag and not accumulating plastic bags (they kill so many sea creatures too)
  • Making sure you pick up your litter at the beach, park, festivals, etc.
  • Make others aware, for example if they throw their cigarette on the ground, make them aware of the dustbin that’s 1cm away


Basically you should become more mindful of the way in which you use and dispose of the resources that you use at home and in your daily life… Walking or cycling to work or varsity may be an option if it’s close enough. It may seem like a real inconvenience in the beginning but once you get used to it you will see all the great benefits it brings such as saving on petrol, avoiding traffic, getting outdoors, getting fit, and doing your part.

The Expense of Sustainable Living in South Africa

Perhaps you’ve already suggested solar panels and grey water systems to your parents or considered installing them in your own home. Perhaps you thought of it yourself, but to have them installed is just ridiculously expensive and there’s no way to justify that expense – unless you can think of it in the long-term.

In the long-term, it saves tons of money. Your municipal bills will be cut drastically and you’ll be helping the environment by cutting carbon emissions. Talk about hitting the nail on the head! Consider going over the math either with your family or on your own. The cost savings might just shock you.

With all the challenges we are facing as a nation both with our electricity shortages, and a growing water crisis as a result of a massive drought, being more mindful of our energy and water usages is really important. Energy saving lightbulbs, solar panels, and water efficient shower heads and taps can help you to save your money in the long term and help to preserve these precious resources.

South Africa may be lagging behind many other countries when it comes to sustainability but we’re slowly but surely joining the party.

As noted by Simon,

“South African cities have unfortunately been designed like many American cities, which is not a good thing. It’s called “modern city planning”, which caters more for cars, instead of pedestrians. So it takes a long time to walk from place to place, with very little reliable and convenient public transport such as busses and trains.”



When I mentioned the arrival of the MyCiti bus and the equivalent in Gauteng, he responds,

“While these initiatives are great and very well needed, they should have been started a long time ago as many of our current public transport networks are both unreliable and unsustainable. We give off a crazy amount of carbon dioxide and other dangerous gases, which cause health problems for those living in the city and cause damage to our atmosphere. We also end up with a condition called “transport poverty”. The poorest people live furtherest away from all the things they need, like jobs and schools, leaving them to rely more and more on unsafe and inconvenient ways of getting around from place to place. As a result they end up having to spend a lot of money on getting from place to place.

We may have just gotten the hang of things but there’s still a long way to go. Which is why we need people in every career sector across South Africa to be involved in making our communities, our cities and our country more sustainable. We need people like you and those in high school and university to become more aware of the environmental issues we face and work towards making a difference in whatever career path we choose.

Watch this space

With the amount of research being conducted in this space, and the incredible leaps we are seeing in technology,   there is great promise for us to solve the problems we now face as a planet. This includes everything from food, energy and materials. But it is important that we play our part by making a conscious effort to change our behaviours and seek a life that helps the environment instead of damaging it.

Simon used Tesla Motors as an example. Tesla is a company that designs and manufactures electric cars. Electric vehicles are far better for the environment than petrol or diesel vehicles and they release very little, or no greenhouse gases. They have just had a breakthrough in creating a battery system that can store solar power, meaning that we can now effectively harness electricity from solar panels on our roof and store the power for times when the sun isn’t shining, such as night time or cloudy days.

There is so much opportunity today to be involved in companies, organisations and initiatives that seek to make a major difference in reducing human impact on the planet. Everything from sustainable transport and infrastructure, to clean energy and fuel, to organic food, water preservation, biodegradable products and recycling, there is great potential to be part of the movement and make a huge difference in the world. Perhaps you might be the next person to make a major impact on the sustainable development front.


If I’ve managed to pique your interest and ignite a passion to become more involved with sustainable development, or if you simply want to educate yourself more on sustainability, then click here  to purchase the book and to take a look at Simon and Devan’s website. They have a blog to keep you up to date with the latest developments on sustainability and they’re just an email away if you want to contact them.

EduConnect 2cents

Green is Not a Colour is a great book for those who love expanding their general knowledge and being up to date about the on-goings of the world around us. When you’re done with the book, pass it on to family or friends so that they can also be aware of what’s happening to our beloved Earth. If everyone joins together, a huge difference can be made. Start now!

You can also purchase their book on Loot and Takealot.

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