MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN 2015/16
GOING GREEN |
by Lydia Bundred
Building a Green House
Planet Earth isn’t our best, it’s our only, and, contrary to popular culture, Earth cannot renew its resources infinitely. It is up to the inhabitants to think green and eliminate wasteful living. Across the globe, resourceful and imaginative energy-saving ways have become part of everyday life for some.
By far the biggest impact that we have on the environment comes from how much energy we use, what we take from the environment (food, clothing materials, etc.) and our travel choices. By eating locally grown fruit and vegetables, you can save on the impact of plastic packaging, reduce gas emission and promote good land use. The means used to generate electricity are often the largest source of air pollution, and, by using energy-saving light bulbs, solar geysers and solar garden lights, less energy can be used.
Thanks to innovative thinking and a desire to reduce the burden on the planet, some individuals have created and implemented small wonders that generate energy. A hotel in Denmark gives free meals to guests who can pedal and generate 10 watts of electricity on an exercise bike attached to a generator. Crowne Plaza Hotel in Copenhagen hopes the initiative will challenge guests to use their own and not the planet’s energy to do things.
A nightclub in Britain has made use of its dancing clientele to generate power using a method called piezoelectricity. This energy-creating method uses crystals and ceramics to generate energy from pressure. As dancers exert pressure on the dance floor, the energy is transferred from the crystals to batteries. “We estimate that if you had loads of clubbers dancing vigorously it would provide 60% of the club’s energy needs,” says owner Andrew Charalambous. The club uses wind turbines and solar power to sustain itself and all visitors are required to sign a pledge to do their part in saving the planet in order to raise awareness.
The Nanyang Technical University in Singapore has turned its art campus into a green design. The swirling building is glass on all sides with a green, grass and foliage roof. The all-glass sides allow natural light to illuminate and heat the interior, while the grass rooftop provides insulation and captures rainwater for irrigation. This garden focus resonates with the new ‘Zen Garden Sink’ that redirects all run-off and excess water used in your bathroom sink to grow a small plant. There is a groove in the side of the sink that allows water to run off to feed the greenery while draining soapy and used water away.
More than 45% of home water usage is in the bathroom, which presents a big area for improvement. If a tap is left running for one minute, it is estimated that it will use 7.5 litres of water. The average home toilet uses up to 13 litres per flush, which amounts to 6 388 litres per person per year. Toilets can eliminate waste with far less water, and, by placing a brick inside the toilet bowl, you can save up to 10 litres. Using a clay brick may be damaging to your plumbing, so green companies have introduced a rubber brick which is specifically designed for this purpose.
While you wait for the shower water to heat up, use a bucket to catch the excess water to use in the garden, for brushing teeth or flushing the toilet.
2. Natural Use and Reuse
What we take from the planet and how we do it is equally important. By eating organic products, consumers are not only opting for a healthier body, but are also supporting an organic growth process where harmful chemicals are eliminated. Don’t dispose of food waste in the garbage; instead, compost it. Compost enriches the soil and sends less waste to the landfill.
Natural household cleaners eliminate harmful chemicals and gases from entering your air supply and eliminate any accidental contact with pets or children. Indoor plants can act as home purifiers. A 2 000 square-foot house would require about 15 to 20 plants to effectively purify the air. Peace Lilly, Dracaena, Florist’s Chrysanthemum and Areca Palm eliminate formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia and other air pollutants.
3. Eat Green
Meat-free Mondays can be a great place to start for a family that wants to eat more healthily, save cash and help the environment. “We devote well over half of our cropland to growing food for animals that we eat, and we’re artificially watering these crops with water that can’t be replaced. Additionally, the animal waste is not put through a sewage-treatment plant, so all the antibiotics and hormones given to the animals can end up in our streams and rivers,” says Joan Gussow, professor emeritus of nutrition and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Eating organic, local food saves in the distance that needs to be travelled to transport or purchase food goods.
Why It Matters
Besides the benefits of health, wellness and frugal living, if more people adopted a greener lifestyle, the environment would be in a much better state. Water is a finite resource and every bit saved helps conserve our world’s water supply. By preventing leaks and using only what you need, you will save on water bills. Recycling and making home composts will reduce landfill and save energy. Every effort reduces the burden on Earth and its resources while extending the quality of life for not only our generation but also the next one.
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