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Going green: What does it all mean?

Green living; sustainability; eco-friendly; conservation; the list of buzzwords we’ve been hearing over the past few years goes on and on. We’re constantly bombarded with news articles and radio talks on climate change and how we’re killing our planet with our irresponsible living habits.

The question remains in many minds: what does “green living” really entail? What difference do our small, individual contributions make and how does it benefit us, our families, our schools, and the community at large?

First of all, best we clear up the confusion about the actual definition of green living before we get to how it benefits us.

Green living can be defined as “a lifestyle that tries in as many ways as it can to bring into balance the conservation and preservation of the Earth’s natural resources, habitats, and biodiversity with human culture and communities.” [1]

Living responsibly, therefore, includes more than simply throwing your rubbish in the bin (even though that’s quite a responsible thing to do). Pursuing knowledge and practices that will lead to a more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible lifestyle will help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for the generations to come. That’s what it’s all about.

When approached holistically, green living entails a combination of things:

  • Reducing consumption and waste

Even though recycling is incredibly important, it’s only one aspect of waste reduction [2]. In essence, we need to consume less so that we use less of the earth’s raw materials. By installing a simple greywater system at home, for example, you are reducing water consumption and waste since greywater can be used for multiple things – from toilet flushing to irrigation of plants.

  • Recycling

Now we get to recycling which is a step that should only be taken once we’re sure we can’t reuse or repair and upcycle something. The most important thing to remember when it comes to recycling is to do it in the right way. Find out from your waste company what can and what can’t be recycled and don’t forget to wash whatever you want to have recycled before you toss it in the bin.

  • Conserving energy and resources

There is currently a finite amount of energy sources such as oil, coal, and natural gas [3] which place us humans in a bit of a pickle. It’s important that we conserve these energy resources and attempt to effectively make use of the infinite, sustainable, and green sources of energy available to us, such as solar energy, for example. By installing solar panels in your home or school you’re not only conserving resources, but you’re definitely also saving money on electricity.

To reduce water usage, you can install low-flush toilets and get into the habit of taking a shower instead of a bath. Also, by replacing regular shower heads with low-flow shower heads you’ll have less water to heat, meaning saving water as well as energy.

  • Create sustainable food systems

Eating healthily and organically doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. The main thing to remember is that we’re focussing on sustainability here – that means something we can actually sustain as part of our everyday lives. Even though it would be really cool if we could all grow our own, we know it’s unfortunately not possible. Some people absolutely hate gardening, and others simply don’t have the time for it.

So, instead of making your life painful by feeling like you have to have your own veggie garden in order to “live green”, why not ask around in your neighbourhood if someone already has some produce and establish a barter system. Perhaps you are good at baking and you can exchange some healthy home-baked bread for some tomatoes and carrots. You get the idea… Otherwise, you can always support your local farmers’ or organic markets.

  • What’s in it for you?

This may seem like a mouthful and sure enough a little bit overwhelming. But it all starts with small changes. Maintaining a healthy, responsible lifestyle starts by introducing simple new habits one at a time.

When you take a moment to think about it; parents, teachers, school administrators and other community members all have the opportunity to influence the next generation in such a way that they learn to live greener, more responsible lives. This, in turn, will slowly but surely lead to healthier, happier, and most importantly, greener communities. The cherry on top is that you’ll be saving money, minimising the chances of long-term health problems, supporting your local farms, and assisting in whichever small manner to conserve our planet.

“Nobody did a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” ~ Edmund Burke

In which ways do you endeavour to live a greener life and how do you think it affects you and those around you?

About WeBenefit

WeBenefit promotes living well, healthy and responsibly. As part of this, we offer solar packages, as well as other healthy living and healthy eating options. We recently partnered with solar energy solution provider, GreenSun, which has quickly established itself and has built a reputation for delivering innovative and sustainable solutions in the solar energy and renewable power industry throughout the Western Cape. For more, visit www.webenefit.co.za:8080

Resources:
[1] http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com/definition-of-green-living.html
[2] https://www.greenchoices.org/green-living/waste-recycling/waste-reduction
[3] http://www.all-recycling-facts.com/what-does-going-green-mean.html#conserveenergy

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