Forget deprivation: eco-friendly living is also health-friendly. Most of the time, it's also a more delicious way to live. Here are a few suggestions:
Shop for fresh, locally grown organic produce on a regular basis and only purchase what you need. Where you can, grow your own - a fragrant basil bush, a tub of mint, a little chilli tree, thyme winding along the earth. Anyone can have these. And fresh things, eaten soon after being picked, are much richer in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients than produce that has been cold-stored, transported, then stored again in your fridge.
Beautify yourself, naturally
For your personal grooming and hygiene, choose products free of harmful chemicals, artificial fragrances and dyes. The beauty industry offers a wide range of options if you look around. Sensitive skins will be grateful.
Clean your home with natural products containing organically grown plant ingredients that are completely biodegradable. Avoid toxic chemicals that damage our water, soil and wildlife - and which stress your own system, too. Even smaller supermarkets have a limited range of these, and they're only able to grow the range if people like you ask them to.
Dress and decorate responsibly
Buy natural, organic cotton and hemp fabrics that are manufactured by means of environmentally sustainable processes and that support local communities. They tend to breathe well, and wear well.
Get around on foot and by bike as much as possible - great for your waistline, and great for the environment. Rideshare with friends or use public transport when you're able to. Quite soon, it will become more feasible to switch to a hybrid car, electric vehicle or other environmentally sensible transport.
Drink organic wine
Purchase wine made from grapes grown with no chemical fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides. All those antioxidants never tasted better.
Reduce, re-use, recycle
Minimise how much garbage you throw out and reuse resources wherever possible. ‘Waste’ should be viewed as a resource to recycle. A composter in your garden is a great start; and drop off glass, plastic and paper at recycling centres. Clothing and household effects will often find a home at charity shops.
Join organisations that are experts in making a difference to the health of the planet (e.g. the World Wildlife Fund) and meet with others about what you can do to make your community more sustainable.
Filter your water
Rather than buying bottled water, filter tap water. Keep yourself hydrated.
Attend the Natural & Organic Products Exhibition in Cape Town (12 – 14 October 2007). Visit www.naturalandorganic.co.za for more information.
(Article published by courtesy of the organisers of the Natural & Organic Products Exhibition, September 2007)