Earth Hour 2012 in South Africa

earth hourEarth Hour looks set to soar to new heights of enthusiasm and participation this year. Their ‘I Will if You Will’ campaign has attracted a huge amount of interest. South Africa has been particularly inspired with celebrities pledging all sorts of crazy or fun things for Earth Hour in return for various pledges of eco-friendly actions in return.

The focus for 2012 is on promoting long-term changes in behaviour to help the planet. Turning off your lights for one hour may not save much electricity in itself, but becoming aware of what you are using and committing to saving energy in the long term is the ultimate goal.

solar lanternAnd have fun while you’re doing it! Earth hour encourages people to switch off all unnecessary lighting, but not to compromise safety and security.

While it is tempting to celebrate with a candle-fest, remember that ordinary candles are made from petroleum products, so have their own effect on the environment. Either use natural beeswax or soy candles which are less polluting, or go for the clean energy of solar lanterns if you want to create a romantic low-light atmosphere for the occasion.

So start getting ready for Earth Hour by equipping yourself with natural candles or solar lighting and then as a bonus you’ll also be ready and prepared for any involuntary power outages that come our way this winter!

International Coastal Clean Up Day

coastal-cleanup-dayThis Saturday 17th September has been designated International Coastal Cleanup Day. It’s an annual event raising awareness of the problems of marine pollution and doing something practical to help.

Volunteers not only collect litter from disposable cups to fishing nets to cigarette butts and so on, but catalogue the data so that action can be taken to try and reduce the amounts of litter in the ocean and on beaches. Last year there were 9 million people involved worldwide and they managed to collect more than 3.2 million kilograms of litter from beaches in more than 100 countries.

If you’re in Cape Town you can join the Aquarium’s coastal cleanup in Muizenberg, or contact www.cleanup-sa.co.za. for details of other cleanup events happening on the same day. We’ll be heading to Big Bay for the cleanup event there.

Electrolux Vac from the SeaAnother recycling initiative we like is Electrolux’s Vac from the Sea. They have created several signature vacuum cleaners made from recycled plastic collected on beaches and oceans around the world. They are now in the process of making a South African model. Unfortunately these cool vacs are not for sale, but for awareness and promotional campaigns, but they’ve got the idea right and are aiming to increase the amount of recycled plastics in their retail range.

Green Living Vegetarian Braai in Cape Town

vegetarian-braaiIf you’re a green living vegetarian, you may not be all that excited about the recent hype leading up to South Africa’s National Braai Day on the 24th September. Braais after all generally feed off the over-the-top South African meat culture, with old jokes about chicken being the vegetarian option. If you’re lucky you’ll get a braaied mealie, otherwise it’ll be salads again.

Not so if you head to Deer Park Cafe in Vredehoek, Cape Town on Saturday 24th September. Here you can revel in a full on braai with not a trace of meat to sully your vegetables – braaied mushrooms, mealies and a whole lot more will be on offer, in a delicious braai buffet. The proceeds go to Beauty without Cruelty. More information available in National Braai Day for Vegetarians.

And just to prove that the South African braai isn’t all about meat here is a whole batch of vegetarian braai recipes. And a recipe for butternut, foil wrapped and cooked on the braai. Vegetables taste great braaied, especially if you can keep them away from the boerewors!

Here’s another green event happening on National Braai Heritage Day – this time all about tree planting.

September is Tree Planting Month In SA

planting-trees

© Yury Shirokov | Dreamstime.com

If you haven’t planted any trees yet this winter, now’s the time, while spring is still mild and occasionally wet and before summer heat sets in. Arbor Day has been celebrated here since 1983, encouraging individuals and communities to plant trees in their own gardens, in schools, along pavements on community land and wherever there is space. Arbor Day then became Arbor Week in 1999 and now the events go on all month, so there’s no excuse to miss it!

I still need to decide on what trees to plant on our farm, having promised my daughters to plant them each a tree. And should I plant a small tree that will take a while to settle in and find its roots, but then should grow well once it has established a deep enough root system? Or large trees that we can enjoy in the landscape from the start, but which will generally take a lot more careful looking after, especially through their first two or three summers?

Whatever trees you plant this month, it’s not just about the planting. Someone needs to make a commitment to tending the trees, giving regular watering through the first few years until they are properly established. But it’s worth it as trees can transform a garden or a dull community space. And trees are one of the most basic but also the most beautiful ingredients of green living.  Besides the huge benefits to the environment on a global scale!. So get planting.

Check out this list of indigenous tree species, designated as trees of the year, if you want inspiration of what to plant.

Check here for more green events in South Africa this month.