Your lifestyle determines your carbon footprint. Factors that play a role include water and electricity, fuel and transport, the production of the food you consume, the clothes and shoes you wear, the vehicle you drive, the roads and buildings you use, the services you need, the amount of waste you generate and food you throw away.
Calculating a carbon footprint is complex and never 100% exact. It can also be challenging to control in terms of daily life. But if we keep consuming as we currently do, and the world population continues to grow as rapidly as it does now, then we’re “spending” more resources than the Earth can provide. We’re stripping so much from the planet that it simply cannot recover fast enough to keep supporting human life.
So, waiting for technology to fix things, laws to change or incentives to be introduced isn’t sufficient. As the cliché suggests, the only way to bring about lasting change is to take personal responsibility.
Not only drought-hardened Capetonians can be frugal with water – we all can! Become more mindful of how much water you use. It’s the most precious resource of all.
- Drink less bottled water. It takes roughly three times as much water to produce the bottle than it can actually hold.
- Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, washing your hands or shaving.
- Shorten your shower time to five minutes or less. And get a low-flow showerhead, which can save up to 60% hot water.
- Install a dual-flush system on toilets.
- Turn off the lights in rooms or areas that aren’t in use.
- Use an electric blanket instead of heating your bedroom in winter.
- Turn on your geyser just once a day.
Pay a little extra for energy-saving lightbulbs. It’s better for the planet and they last longer too. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) last up to 75% longer than regular ones; LED ones up to 130 times longer.
Heating & cooling
Instead of running costs that keep escalating over time, rather spend money upfront to insulate your living space properly, then you’ll save on both heating and cooling as you’ll require less of both. Consider the initial capital outlay versus costs that will only escalate over time.
In South Africa, we employ an energy usage scale that is rated from A to G, where A is the most efficient and G the least economical. Alternately, look out for the American equivalent, which you’ll find marked as Energy Star rating.