How many people living today know about the original references to the 3 R’s.  Hey!  Own up somebody!  There’s no way that I am the only one old enough to remember my grandpa telling me that Reading, wRiting & aRithmatic are the key to success.  Humm! What would grandpa say about the 3 Rs – Reduce, Re-use and Recycle which are the road to survival today. Survival?  You think I am exaggerating – do the math yourself!! 

 Multiply the amount of resources consumed and the waste generated by a top consumer  by the number of humans striving to achieve a similar level of materialism  =  3.5 Earths.   3.5 Earths, but we have no Planet B. Our lifestyles are costing the Earth and our population is still growing!!!  How did this happen?  All too easily!  That’s the scary part – so many of us living a typical `western-materialism’ lifestyle are top consumers.  And it is not easy to break out of this comfort zone, especially as we got here assuming that material uber-affluence is a justifiable reward for creativity and hard work, our possessions well deserved badges of success.  But how many of us, in striving to be seen to have made it, have consciously thought about the environmental and social cost of so much of our stuff and our lifestyles?  Which is why I argue that adopting an alternative lifestyle based on today’s 3 Rs is ultimately a matter of survival.  And ironically Grandpa, well mine anyway, who lived before the era of mass-consumerism, built-in obsolescence and gross resource inefficiency practiced the – let’s call them- the 3 Eco-Rs.  It was simply a matter of everyday common sense.  How progressive was that?  Now decades later, we have to learn how to live Responsibly (and based on the 2009 school results, we still need to attend to the 3Rs that grandpa was so concerned.)

 This is where those Green Resolutions come in and the 3 Rs of Reduce, Reuse & Recycle.  Although first conceived to promote responsible waste management, they pretty much cover the essential elements of living sustainably.  Basically, we all need to Resolve to get Real.  The first step is about being a conscious consumer – it is good for our health as well as the health of Mother Earth who sustains us.  2010 is not just another year, it is the start of the Second Decade of the 21st Century.  Join the move to make this the Decade of Living Responsibly.  Read about the 3 Eco-Rs below and why not email me your Green Resolutions for 2010. We will publish them (with or without your name as you prefer). 

Reduce:  Award winning environmental journalist Leonie Joubert talks about Less being the new More and it is true – look around you.  More and More people are choosing to use Less – less electricity, less water, to own less stuff, to eat less meat, to use fewer chemicals, etc.  What are you going to commit yourself to less of in 2010?

 Re-use: Grandpa would definitely approve of finding new uses for old.  Do we always have to buy new ?  What about buying second hand or giving unneeded stuff away.  A friend wanted a fondue set.  I found one in a second hand shop, but instead of feeling great about saving resources and imbedded energy etc, I felt shabby about a second hand gift.  The Consumer Kid was sitting on my shoulder saying “cheep cheat, you can’t do that!!”  My friend loved the `old though better than new’ fondue set and the accompanying gift voucher, from Woolworths food store to contribute to her first fondue, was an acceptable concession to The Kid.  So be brave, be Rad, Consumer Kid needs to be kept in check.  Many South Africans have come up with wonderful re-use ideas,  – from greywater for gardens, to chip oil for biodiesel, milk cartons for seedlings and everything inbetween. Email us your re-use ideas.

Recycle:  Composting, or worm farms for people without space, simulates nature – one creature’s waste is another creature’s food.  Nature knows no waste. Unfortunately, the latter can’t be said of most human societies. In Cape Town we generate so much waste that we shall run out of landfill space before the end of this decade.  Many of us in the Scenic South enjoy a recycling collection service and according to the stats, as many as 70% of households with the service make use of it.  For those of us who don’t have our recyclables collected from home, there are containers for paper, glass, plastic and bottles at the Kommetjie Waste site, the Noordhoek Recycling Centre, Kalk Bay Recycling Centre and at many of the schools.  As with re-use, there are many great recycle ideas being put into practice – some are small local industries and others are giant commercial operations e.g. plastic cooldrink bottles being turned into fleece clothing and blankets. Email us your recycle ideas and tell us about a local industry that is looking for recyclables.

 A final thought to make 2010 really RAD?  Commit yourself to some Radical Resolutions to give more weight to the 3 Eco-Rs.  Not the get-yourself-into-prison-stuff, but how about rattling a few consciences.  E.g. We don’t have to accept over packaging. Don’t kill the cashier, just (politely) hand the excess wrapping to the store manager.  Make a commitment not to support an industry until they have `cleaned-up‘ their act.  I won’t drink bottled water.  Water bottles now constitute the single most common litter item in our rivers, wetlands and on the beach and there is no deposit for the bottles.  If something environmentally irresponsible is going down – spread the message, blog it, tweet it, put it on Facebook, tell your friends – just be sure of your facts.    Have a wonderful 2010 learning that you can live lightly.  KimK

leave a greenprint

Green Resolutions for 2010 – leave only greenprints                               (send us yours to add to the list )

  • –  I will only buy things that I need for their usefulness not their status. KimK
  • –  I will make an even more concerted effort to buy South African products wherever possible instead of  imported goods.