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How Big is your Carbon Footprint? by Aneesa Cassiem

iThursday, Feb 20th, 2014 comments by jamielee

Whether you are passionate about the environment or not, climate change affects us all and has devastating consequences.       

For those who do not know, a carbon footprint is the measurement of carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases such as methane) that is released into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun and thereby heats up the earth (melting icecaps, drought).

South Africa relies on coal for 90% of its electricity – an unsustainable resource that is being depleted at an alarming rate, which leaves a mammoth carbon footprint.

The smaller your carbon footprint means less greenhouse emissions.

Minimizing your carbon footprint is not about spending more money or making life inconvenient. It is about making a few simple lifestyle changes that positively impact the environment.

Going solar; using harmless chemicals in your daily life and switching to biodegradable products absolutely contribute to reducing your carbon footprint, and well done to you if you have managed to make these changes.

For the unconverted, here are a few practical tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint:

  1. Switch off
  • Whether it be the TV or the kitchen light. If you're not using it, it does not have to be on.
  • Leaving your appliances on standby translates into kilowatts. So, power down or unplug. Especially that cell phone charger.

  1. You've heard it and seen it before:  reduce, re-use, recycle.
  • Reusable shopping bags! (Make sure to keep them clean)
  • Recycle bins are now in most malls and public places - use them!
  • Bottled water is to the environment what a cigarette is to your lungs. There is no shortage of nifty, eco-friendly water bottles out there. Invest in one and you are investing wisely.
  • Recycling does not necessarily have to cost you anything. Cardboard boxes, plastic crates, whatever you choose to use will work just fine.
  • For a list of what products can be recycled, click on this link:
  • Keep in mind that many stores now have recycling bins for your convenience - including a bin for ink cartridges and light bulbs.
  1. Waste of any kind massively impacts our environment.  I found a site called The Good Food Blog ( which demonstrates the bigger picture on food waste. We use 25% of the earth’s water supply, deforest 25 million acres to grow crops and use 300 million barrels of oil per year to produce food. Just to put it into some perspective: A billion people are malnourished and 1.3 billion tons of edible food produced is wasted each year (a third of the total food produced annually!). If this figure shocks you, it should. How can we combat this? Buy what you need and re-use your leftovers.
  1. Energy efficiency
  • Energy saving products and appliances such as Compact fluorescent light bulbs are readily available
  • Boiling a full kettle only when necessary does save electricity
  • Filling your dishwasher/washing machine to its capacity saves water and electricity

  1. Plant a tree
  • It is as simple as that.
  • A great activity to do with anyone of any age.





These are a few simple tips, but there are many more. What changes have YOU made to reduce your carbon foot print in your home or community?

by Aneesa Cassiem

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