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Here’s to a healthier and greener 2020!

With 2020 just around the corner, many of us are looking ahead and thinking about our commitments for the New Year and what it will take to achieve them. While you are working on your resolutions, why not include some that can help you make a positive impact both on your life and on the environment?

New year on the sand
© Pixabay
The New Year is a chance to start over, continue where you’ve left off or start something new.

There are plenty of ways that you can make your 2020 greener. If you need some guidance, here are five easy steps to get you started:

Eat more vegetables and less meat

While meat is a good source of protein, intensive farming of animals for meat puts a lot of pressure on the environment because it requires huge amounts of water and space for feed production. Also, the production process creates much more carbon dioxide than plants such as vegetables, grains and legumes.

You don’t have to become a vegetarian to reduce your carbon footprint. If meat is your main source of protein, try substituting it with plant-based protein at least once a week. Participate in Meat Free Mondays, or choose a day in the week when you can do that.

Personally, I get most of my protein from foods such as lentils, beans, avocado, green peas, Brussels sprouts, and nuts. There are many other non-animal foods available that you can eat. With just a little research, you can find out what works better for you. 

© Pixabay
Food production is a big contributor to the many environmental issues we face today, including climate change and biodiversity loss.
Save every drop of water

There’s no better time to save water than now!

South Africa is a water-scarce country, and many have been feeling the effects of recent droughts. Some farmers are losing livestock and people in many communities go without running water for weeks, and even months. By making small adjustments to the amount of water you use on a daily basis, you reduce your water footprint.

Consider the amount of time you spend in the shower, the water you use to flush the toilet and clean your house, how often you wash the dishes, water your garden and do your laundry. Reusing your water, spending less time in the shower, watering your garden early in the day and less frequently could go a long way.

Saving water
© Pixabay
Every drop counts. Use less water.
Refuse, reduce, reuse or recycle plastics

Plastics are one of the most convenient items in our lives. They are flexible, lightweight and cheaper than most packaging material, but bad when they find their way into our environment, especially single-use plastics like straws and food packaging like polystyrene containers.

I have read that about one garbage truck’s worth of plastic is dumped into our oceans every minute! Shocked already? Then this is what you can do about it:

Refuse items made from single-use plastics, and make sure to take your own reusable bag when you go shopping. 

Reduce the amount of plastic you use on a daily basis. It might be impossible to live a complete plastic-free life, but it is possible to use less plastic.

Reuse the plastic items you already have. If you end up buying a plastic bag, make sure to reuse it instead of throwing it away.

Recycle, but make this your last option because many “recycled” materials end up in landfill, rivers and oceans.

Plastic litter
© Pixabay
Over eight million tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year – globally!
Walk more and drive less

Owning a car is both a convenience and a status symbol. But many of us don’t really need to drive all the time. I mean, is it necessary to drive 500m to a petrol station to buy some snacks, or to a friend’s house that’s just down the road? We’ve gotten so comfortable with driving around even when it is not necessary. But our modes of transport contribute massively to the emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and ultimately the climate change.

So what’s the alternative for 2020? Take a walk or cycle if your destination is not far, even if it is once a week. This could make a big impact, especially if many of us do it. 

If walking or cycling does not work for you, consider carpooling or using public transport on certain days of the week. You may also save yourself some cash in the process.

© WWF South Africa/Dimpho Lephaila
Walking more, and driving less helps reduce the amount of green-house gasses released into the environment.
Use less electricity

Switching off your lights and unplugging your electrical devices and accessories when not in use may seem like a small action, but it can make a big difference if everyone adjusted their energy usage.

Using less electricity at home subsequently creates less demand to burn fossil fuels like coal and oil – some of the big contributors to the rapidly changing climate.

You can do even better by using energy-saving light bulbs; and hanging your clothes to dry instead of using a dryer. These few actions have a positive impact on the environment.

Plug socket
© Pixabay
Chargers consume electricity even when there is no device on charge.

So, are you in?

Never underestimate how much impact your contribution can make towards saving our planet. By making green resolutions for 2020 and following through with them, you will make a difference in conserving our biodiversity, which includes plants, animals, and ecosystems like rivers and wetlands. For Nature. For You.

Dimpho Lephaila Photo
Dimpho Lephaila, Communications Officer

Dimpho believes in the power of science communication, because it is through knowledge sharing that people can learn and change their behaviour.

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