Living in transition is life-affirming and life changing. There is so much each of us can do to live a more sustainable life style. As with all change, it can be a little uncomfortable at first and even feel like hard work. But it’s worth it. Give it 30 days. What’s 30 days in a lifetime? Below are guidelines to help you in your transition to a lifestyle that is healthier for you, your family and friends, your local community and for the planet. Within thirty days you will find that you feel healthier, happier and more at peace – don’t take anybody else’s word for it – try it for yourself and let us know the results!
The amount of waste we chuck away every week is considerable. Each of us, if we carry on living as we do now, will send 64 TONS OF WASTE to landfill in our lifetime. With 7 billion people on the planet it’s easy to see that’s not sustainable. There is no ‘away’. We cannot continue like this. So what do we do?
REFUSE – REDUCE – REUSE – RECYCLE – ROT
REFUSE: Think carefully about what you are bringing into your home. If there’s a choice between loose fruit and vegetables and packaged, buy the loose produce. If you have to buy wrapped goods chose the least packaged. Encourage your local supermarket and other stores to reduce their packaging. Take your own bag. REFUSE THE PLASTIC BAG! Plastic bags are the plague of landfill sites. Every plastic bag ever produced still exists. They kill sea creatures, choke land animals and litter our environment. They break down into toxins that leach into our soil. There is nothing good to say about the plastic bag except convenience.
REDUCE: We live in a consumer driven society. Many of us are puppets of the advertising world. Advertisers know how to manipulate our feelings in order to get us to buy stuff. Remember the Marlboro Man? There he stood in some Elysian field, a gorgeous woman on his arm, a fresh breeze ruffling his thick mane of black wavy hair, puffing on a fag. So smoking cigarettes was supposed to make you healthy and attractive. Oh – and it did no damage to the environment. We bought it, in our millions. Don’t be manipulated. You decide what YOU need. You will find that you actually need a lot, lot less than the marketers would have you believe.
REUSE: They say necessity is the mother of invention and it is a constant wonder at how inventive people from poorer or struggling communities can be. Very little is thrown away – there is a use for everything. Plants are grown in plastic yoghurt or cheese pots, old CDs protect veggie patches, tin cans are made into children’s toys. Think about what you are throwing away. If you can’t find an alternative use for it, what about the local schools, or the Red Cross? Ask them, you’ll be surprised at how much use your throwaways can be!
RECYCLE: We are fortunate to have a recycling business on our doorstep. Tin cans, bottles, some plastics, paper and cardboard can all be recycled. There has been plenty of information circulated about recycling and it is included under our Links and Resources page on this website. Challenge yourself to reduce your throwaway waste to less than one small bin per week. It can be done and for inspiration look at this lady and her zero waste home
ROT: We are sitting on an ecological goldmine in our own homes. All that organic kitchen waste will nurture your garden better than any shop bought fertiliser. For easy, clear instructions on how to set up a compost heap there is no better site than this one.
Food security is a major issue in most parts of the world. Severe droughts in the USA during 2012 led to a steep hike in food prices around the world. Here in South Africa it now costs R1,523.42 to provide a balanced diet for one person per month. This figure is calculated on the most basic food products. R50 per day is needed just to eat.
Money needed for food (2000 calories, balanced)
|Milk (regular), 0.25 liter||2.43 R|
|Loaf of Fresh White Bread (130.00 g)||2.39 R|
|Rice (0.13 kg)||1.69 R|
|Eggs (3.60)||5.40 R|
|Local Cheese (0.15 kg)||9.30 R|
|Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless), (0.25 kg)||11.87 R|
|Apples (0.34 kg)||5.10 R|
|Oranges (0.34 kg)||4.08 R|
|Tomato (0.21 kg)||2.81 R|
|Potato (0.25 kg)||2.72 R|
|Lettuce (0.15 head)||1.35 R|
|Daily money neccessary for food per person||49.14 R|
|Monthly money neccessary for food per person
(assuming 31 day per month)
If we want to provide for ourselves, our families and to help those in our community who live on very low incomes, we need to do all we can to become sustainable. There are a number of ways to achieve this:
BUY LOCAL: A BROCCOLI STORY
Greyton Transition Town recently undertook an exercise in which a head of broccoli was tracked from a field between Genadendal and Greyton. It was picked by one person, handed to another and thrown into a crate on the back of a truck. The truck stood overnight before heading off to Elgin where it was taken out of the truck by another person and put into a smaller crate. The crate was carried into a factory where it was tipped onto a conveyor belt. The broccoli was then handled by a checker before being placed into a Styrofoam tray by another worker. A different worker then covered the broccoli in clingwrap. The broccoli then travelled to the end of the conveyor belt and was tipped into a crate. The crate was taken to a distribution centre 22 kms away where the broccoli stayed for two days. The broccoli was then transported to Greyton and delivered to a supermarket where it was barcoded and placed on the shelf.
Food miles 142 kms
Packaging Styrofoam and clingwrap
Handled by Five people
Days in transit Five
Contrast this with another local supplier of organic vegetables who provides only for the local market:
Food miles 5 kms
Handled by One person
Days in Transit 0.2
This says it all! If you support local you help local suppliers who will respond to the specific needs of our community. When they are thriving due to our patronage we have taken a step further towards food security. GTT runs an Incredible Edible, locally produced, organic vegetable and food produce table on Wednesdays between 10 am and 12 noon outside Via’s restaurant in the Main Road. You can bring your own excess produce from your veg garden to swop, or you can sell or buy. Products include vegetables, eggs, honey and sprouts.
GROW YOUR OWN: There is nothing quite so satisfying on growing your own vegetables. Support yourself and your family by starting a veg patch. Even the most modest space, such as the size of a door, can provide enough vegetables to keep a family of four. It takes a bit of practice, mistakes will be made and, at times, it can be immensely frustrating. However, if you persist and follow just a couple of guidelines, as follows, you will be amply rewarded:
a. Use organic kitchen waste to create compost and enrich your veg garden soil.
b. Use a non-toxic spray to keep off pests.
- 2-3 garlic bulbs
- 6 large or 12 small chilli peppers
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 squirts liquid detergent
- 7 cups of water
- Blend garlic, peppers, vegetable oil and one cup of water in a blender. Add the liquid detergent and remaining six cups of water and stir gently. Put in a plant spray bottle.
c. Use heirloom seeds, available from Via’s and from Angora van Doorn at the Incredible Edible table outside Via’s on Wednesday mornings between 10-12, or the Saturday morning market. You can harvest the seeds from these plants and use again and again.
REDUCE YOUR CONSUMPTION OF ANIMAL PRODUCTS
There is a large body of peer-reviewed evidence from notable institutions that a plant based diet is best for humans. This is not an attempt to persuade you to become a vegan, although this author has found considerable health benefits from following a plant-based diet. However, nearly all doctors, nutritionists and food scientists agree that high consumption of plant-based foods is good for you. Here, for example, is an extract from the highly respected American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:
Evidence from prospective cohort studies indicates that a high consumption of plant-based foods such as fruit and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains is associated with a significantly lower risk of coronary artery disease and stroke.
Or this from Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention and the Department of Medicine, Stanford University Medical School, Stanford, California 94304
Accumulating evidence from molecular and cellular biology experiments, animal studies, and, to a limited extent, human clinical trials suggests that phytoestrogens may potentially confer health benefits related to cardiovascular diseases, cancer, osteoporosis, and menopausal symptoms. These potential health benefits are consistent with the epidemiological evidence that rates of heart disease, various cancers, osteoporotic fractures, and menopausal symptoms are more favorable among populations that consume plant-based diets
Consider reducing your intake of animal products. If you are a heavy meat eater then try for one meat free day per week. Increase your consumption of locally grown, organic fruit and veg. Try it for 30 days and then see how you feel!
The joy of this aspect of sustainability is that you are not only bringing great benefit to yourself but also to the planet. It takes 15,000 litres of water to produce one kg of meat and only 1,500 litres of water to produce one kg of vegetables. Furthermore it takes fifteen times more land to produce 1 kg of beef as it does for 1 kg of cereals. It is vital for global food security that we reduce our consumption of animal products. It would be far better to use our fields to provide plant based foods for direct consumption by humans rather than via an animal intermediary!
This is perhaps one of the most pressing aspects of sustainability and something which all of us, individually and collectively, can respond to.
At present, a group professional volunteers comprising mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and environmental impact assessors, in Greyton and Genadendal, are building up a feasibility study to create renewable energy for this area of the Overberg. Solar arrays, hydropower and biomass are being considered as a potential portfolio of alternative energies that could do much to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
The cheapest power, however, is that which we don’t use. It requires no capital outlay, no installations, no maintenance or spare parts. We can save considerable amounts of power just by following the simple guidelines listed under our Resources heading. You will be amazed at how much money you also save just by getting into the habit of reducing your power consumption.
4. Join in!
When you get into the swing of becoming more sustainable you will want to share your experiences. Become a member of Greyton Transition Town, it’s free, and take part in our forums and social events where we learn from each other and generally have a good time doing it!
RESOURCES: SAVING ELECTRICITY
- Be sure to turn off lights when you leave a room.
- Turn off machines when you leave a room (examples include TV’s, computers, radios, stereos, video games, VCR’s, and DVD players).
- When you go away on a trip, be sure to unplug these same machines because they have stand-by functions that consume electricity even when they are turned off.
- Fill your dishwasher efficiently and limit the number of times you run it.
- Don’t put furniture and other things in front of heating and air conditioning vents.
- Keep doors and windows closed when heat or air conditioning is on.
- Put in a programmable thermostat which will keep your house at the right temperature day and night. Programmable thermostats can reduce cooling and heating bills up to 10% because they lower the heat or raise the air conditioning when you are not at home.
- Check how much electricity your water geyser uses. If it uses more than other models of water geyser, replace it with a more efficient one or invest in a solar water geyser and benefit from Eskom’s discounted scheme.
- Put insulation around the pipes going in and out of your water geyser. If you have an older water geyser, put an insulated blanket around it.
- If you will be out of town for more than a couple days, turn off your water geyser.
- Take a look at the insulation in your attic. Heat rises, which means that warm air rises into your attic. If you don’t have good enough insulation, heat will be wasted. Insulation should be 6 inches to 1 foot thick.
- Close doors and vents in rooms you are not using.
- Hold a ribbon or feather up to windows and doors to see if there are any drafts. If there are, put in weather stripping or caulking to keep the outside air out and to keep the air conditioning or heating in.
- Turn off the water when you are brushing your teeth and take shorter showers. This will not only save water, but it will also save the electricity that it takes to pump and heat the water.
- Make use of daylight hours and do not turn on lights and lamps.
- Use one large light bulb instead of a few small ones. One 100-watt light bulb uses less energy and gives off more light than two 60-watt bulbs.
- Use light bulbs that are low in wattage in areas of your house where you don’t need bright light.
- Make sure that outdoor lighting is turned off during the day. Use motion-detectors lights or timer switches.
- Decide what you want from the refrigerator or freezer before you open them so you don’t waste electricity by standing there looking inside and keeping the door open.
- Vacuum the coils of your refrigerator every few months in order to lower your energy bill and to keep the condenser working better.
- Before putting hot foods into the refrigerator, cool them to room temperature (unless the recipe tells you not to do this).
- Cook several food dishes in the oven at the same time.
- Keep the oven door closed until the food is done cooking.
- Defrost food before you bake or microwave it. This uses 1/3 less energy than if you baked food that was still frozen.
- Use a cook cushion. These insulated hollow cushions with an insulated fabric lid will save you significant amounts power and money. Bring your saucepan of food to the boil, place in the cook cushion, wait 20 mins for vegetables, 45 mins for animal products and you will enjoy perfectly cooked food for a fraction of the price.
- Wash full loads of clothing instead of smaller ones. Use the coolest water possible for washing and rinsing the clothes.
- Try not to use a dryer and hang your laundry out to dry. But if you must….
- Clean the lint filter of your dryer after every load.
- Dry full loads of clothes.
- Dry one load right after another because this uses less energy since the dryer is already hot.
- Be sure to stop the dryer as soon as the clothes are dry.
- Keep your blinds, drapes or shades closed during the day.
- Use ceiling fans or windows fans instead of air conditioning. Ceiling and window fans use much less electricity.
- Only use air conditioning when it is really hot outside.
- Turn off your air conditioning if you will be gone from home for a long time.
- Clean or replace your air conditioning filters every month (in both central and window air conditioners).
- Turn the thermostat up a few degrees when you have the air conditioning on. 74 degrees is very comfortable and you are saving up to 5% on your electric bills for each degree of temperature change.
- Plant trees around your housebecause they help shade your house in the summer and keep your house cooler.
- If you can, shade your air conditioning unit. If your unit is in the bright sun, it will use up to 5% more energy than if it was in the shade.
- Keep your thermostat at or below 68 degrees. If you are cold, put on a sweater or sweatshirt. Remember, you are saving up to 5% on your electric bill for every degree of temperature change.
- On sunny winter days, open your curtains, drapes, and blinds to let the sunshine in to warm up your house.
- Make sure windows and doors close well so they do not let any cold air in.
- Repair any broken or cracked window glass.
- Plant trees in your garden because trees break the cold winter wind before it reaches your house.
- If you have a fireplace, make sure you have a tight-fitting damper and keep it closed when you are not using the fireplace.
RECYCLING: CLEAN GREEN GREYTON – LET’S RECYCLE ALL WE CAN AND REDUCE THE AMOUNT THAT GOES TO LANDFILL
The following items can be collected from outside your house every Wednesday morning. You can put them all in one bag of any colour and/or in a box .
Clean and Dry:
- Plastic bottles rinsed. PET 1 only (eg. Cold drinks, fruit preserves,
- washing liquid, mineral water bottles)
- Metal – rinsed food tins and drink cans
- Glass bottles and jars – rinsed with tops off
- Plastic bags
- Paper, magazines, flattened /folded newspapers and cardboard
Rinse and empty all containers; remove lids and caps; flatten plastic and cardboard; prevent glass from breaking
Not for recycling:
- Wet, Dirty or contaminated items
- Cling wrap
- Disposable nappies or sanitary towels
- Chemicals, paint, toothpaste tubes, motor oil containers, acid or solvents
- Organic waste – Food scraps, vegetable peels, garden waste
- All tetrapak items – foil lined juice or milk containers
- Clothing or shoes
Batteries and ink cartridges and light bulbs
Deposit in the box at Greyton Tourism Office
All landfill items will be collected by the Municipality on Mondays