Planting Trees For Special Occasions

tree plantingPlanting indigenous trees is one way we can all make a difference. Whether it is because we want to reduce our carbon footprint, restore a bleak landscape or just because we love trees, a tree planted and looked after will most likely outlive us, a positive legacy that we can be proud of.

Planting a tree is a great way of marking a special occasion: a birthday, an anniversary. Now that the autumn rains have started it’s a great time for tree planting and our girls were determined to plant a tree each for Easter, not so much for their carbon footprint, it must be admitted, more because the Easter bunny has always left eggs in their special trees! Even though you don’t need to wait for an occasion to plant a tree it is lovely to have a growing memorial to a special birthday or event, and kids love having their own trees to look after. Continue reading

LED Lighting Rebates From Eskom

LED-light-bulbs-eskomHave you been thinking of going greener at home but haven’t got around to it yet. Eskom’s latest residential rebate program might be just the incentive you need. They are offering to replace existing halogen downlighters with LED lighting alternatives for free! If it seems too good to be true check out the details as laid out by Eskom’s service provider on this project. Continue reading

Green Living Adventure

green scooterIf you’ve ever felt bad about the carbon footprint that seems inevitable when you travel, this is for you. A carbon neutral scooter safari all round South Africa is the brain child of environmentalists, Melissa Andrews and Christopher List, a husband and wife team dedicated to green living.

They are using energy efficient vespas, “packing light and going slow” on a mission to raise funds for Food and Trees for Africa. As experienced permaculture experts they will be volunteering at environmental projects on their way, as well as planting trees to balance out their carbon footprint, so that the whole trip will be carbon neutral.

A huge amount of planning has gone into this trip, including sourcing of sponsors for their technical needs, green travel planning, maps, eco-friendly printing and more. We’re looking forward to following their blog, seeing what they get up to and how the carbon neutral journey works out. They’re leaving on 1st June from Cape Town. Happy green travelling!

Photo © Vladimir Ivanov | Dreamstime.com

Eskom Offers Businesses Rebate for LED Lighting

replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDGreat news for South African businesses that want to go green: Eskom is offering rebates on the initial costs of changing over to a more energy efficient system, including purchases of LED bulbs and downlights. This great offer applies to businesses, retail outlets, guest houses, industrial and commercial properties and would be a great way to fund a total change over from conventional lighting to LED lighting. The rebate is of up 85% of the total cost.

There are many businesses that would like to become more environmentally friendly but haven’t yet been able to afford the total investment of changing over – this is the perfect opportunity for them.

There are various conditions to qualify for the scheme, one of them being that the changes must save a minimum of 2Mw per annum. This can be a tricky thing to work out for yourself so it is strongly recommended to get the advice of a specialist supplier of LED lighting. They can assess your energy usage and work out the savings that would accrue from a changeover to LED, as well as guiding you through the process of applying for the rebate.

While you are looking at LED lighting don’t forget about your display signs too. Switching over from fluorescent light boxes to LED lightboxes, from neon signs to LED signs can also add to your energy efficiency, cutting costs in the long run.

Photo copyright © Joshua Huber | Dreamstime.com

Off the Grid Looking Good for SA Homes and Businesses

wind turbineWhile South Africa has been rather behind in the development of alternative energy sources, it looks like we are finally catching up in a real way.

At last there are companies producing small wind turbines suitable for domestic use, which could be the solution for families wanting to go off-grid, or at least generate a substantial part of their own energy needs.

With the abundance of wind in our local climates, a wind turbine can produce enough energy to power a home, especially if it has back up from solar power when it comes to water heating.

One company, Psiclone Renewable Energy Solutions has produced two types of domestic wind turbine – one to be used completely off-grid, which has a battery for storing excess power produced; the other version ties into the grid, enabling excess energy to be returned to the grid.

Though much of this is developed with rural areas in mind, some models are compact enough to be mounted on the roof in urban situations. Combine your own clean energy source with other energy saving solutions like LED lighting and energy efficient appliances and you could be well on the way to a carbon neutral way of living.

As with many alternative energy solutions the draw-back is the initial cost of instalment; however if you add up your monthly energy bills and consider that all your future energy will be free, it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to discover that the installation costs will have paid for themselves in about two years or so. Plus you will have a clean, sustainable energy source to weather future power outages, price hikes and all the doom and gloom predictions of power shortages.

Now it’s just a question of whether you can handle all your friends and neighbours descending on you every time there’s a power outage in the future!

Dreaming of A Green Christmas – Tree Gifts

tree gifts for urban greeningWe’ve suggested large trees as gifts in our useful green gift guide, but what if you’d like to give a tree, but the recipient doesn’t have space for one?

Greenpop has the solution. You can buy a tree from them and they will plant it for you in one of their urban or rural greening projects. Choose from a fruit tree to be planted in a school, an indigenous tree to green up an urban area or reforest a rural area. They will send a certificate in the name of whoever you are giving the tree to, with the GPS co-ordinates of your exact tree. They follow up on the tree care to make sure it is sustainable, so your gift will last for years and make a real difference to a community and to nature

You both have the satisfaction of your gift contributing positively to the environment, instead of loading you with the guilt of more stuff to de-clutter a few weeks after Christmas!

The tree gift offer is currently deal of the day on CityMob, or buy direct from Greepop. It costs R75 for an indigenous tree and R100 for a fruit tree.

Who’s Saving Energy with LED Lighting in Cape Town?

I’ve just been checking out LED lighting in Cape Town and was delighted to discover that some of our favourite Cape Town places to visit are getting serious about going green – not just in a token recycle-a-few-plastic-bags way either. Top of the list is the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, closely followed by Fairview, the makers of delectable cheeses and wines and another new discovery is luxury guest house Parkers Cottage.

Two Oceans Aquarium wind turbineThe Two Oceans Aquarium have recently won recognition of its sustainability efforts from the Heritage Environmental management Company: it’s efforts include a wind turbine cleverly installed at its entrance, solar panels to power its administration block and LED lighting in all its ablution facilities. It has also designed a solar outreach van to take its exhibits to disadvantaged schools in the area – the van isn’t fuelled by the solar energy (one day!) but the solar panels power all the electricity needs of the mobile aquariums keeping all the fish alive, saving on all the electricity previously used to charge batteries to run the systems.

Fairview Cheese Factory are getting sustainable with solar panels installed on the roof, an economiser to  reduce energy used in heating water and many other energy measures. I’m not sure if LED lighting is included in their list, but I’m sure it is being implemented as it certainly makes sense in their overall plan to become carbon neutral.

Last but not least is Parkers Cottage in Tamboersklooof, central Cape Town, who have set out to prove that luxury and heritage historical properties can be eco-friendly and sustainable. Their grand plan aims at being off-grid by 2015, and while not without a few hiccups and trial and error in some stages of the plan, such as the photovoltaic panels,  they are hugely pleased with the success of their LED lighting sourced from CandelaLED, which is already making savings in the electricity bills.

I’m sure that there are plenty more wonderful places in and around Cape Town that are going green and using sustainable LED lighting, so tell me about any that you know of know in the comments, so I can add them to my list.

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 Cheese – Fairview Doing its Bit for the Environment

Fairview goatsSolar panels may not be the answer for every energy application, but they sure do make a difference, especially in a sunny country like South Africa.

I was really happy to read that my favourite wine farm and cheese making establishment – Fairview – is just installing a flotilla of solar panels in its cheese-making factory. They need huge amounts of hot water in the process to turn out their delicious goats and cows milk cheeses. The fuel used to heat the water will be reduced by two thirds once the solar panels are up and running –still not quite carbon neutral but a huge improvement.

A big thumbs up to Fairview and here’s hoping that more businesses will follow their lead!