21 April 2009

How to beat Green Fatigue

Cast your vote for the planet too tomorrow: 22 April is Earth Day. And it's not all recycling and CFL bulbs. These fresh green tips may just surprise you.

Recycle. Car-pool. CFL bulbs. Yawn. But don't give in to Green Fatigue just yet: these tips (a sample from eco-weatherman Simon Gear's neat new handbook, Going Green: 365 Ways to Change Our World") came as a welcome surprise to me, and are bound to pique your interest too:

Make a bat house
You can actually buy (or presumably make, if you’re handy enough) a bat house, which fits onto the side of your human-sized one and apparently attracts and accommodates up to 100 of these nocturnal charmers. See the Ecosolutions web site - which also offers owl houses - for more details.

These (the houses and the inhabitants) aren't just cute garden ornaments: some local bat species help with tree pollination, others feed on insect pests; and owls keep rodent populations in check.

Skip meals
"Skip a meal a week and replace it with an apple and a tall glass of water, and donate the difference in cost to a local feeding scheme," suggests Simon. No, this isn't a weight-loss suggestion – the aim is to remind yourself about the issue of food scarcity, experienced on a daily basis by millions. You may also "begin to get a clearer idea of your own overconsumption."

Hmm. Worthy, sure, but if that doesn't strike you as exactly a barrel of laughs how about this one:

Brew your own beer and make your own wine
Along with growing your own (vegetables etc.), producing your own alcohol is environmentally friendly because it doesn’t require all the infrastructure, land use, transport and packaging involved in the commercial liquor industry.

I am as yet an innocent when it comes to the practicalities of this craft, but how hard can it be? As Simon puts it, wine is just “anything with lots of sugary liquid that has been left to go off for a bit and then strained to get rid of the floaty bits”. For best (and safest) results, though, read up and get hold of a home-booze manufacturer kit, available from specialist outlets (see The Brewmaster website for example) in this rewarding field.

Do less
Sounds like an odd way to go about saving the planet, but what Simon means here is that personal energy is a resource that can be frittered away needlessly too – instead of intelligently, meaningfully channelled. "Filling your life with unnecessary obligations and activities is really no different to filling your cupboards with trinkets you don't need and can't afford."

Google your Earth
Google Earth isn't only brilliant because of all its practical applications, it can be quite beautiful and thought-provoking too, and gives you that almost-like-flying gazing-down-on-creation feeling. I find I can get quite emotional poring over these living maps (admittedly mainly late at night after a couple of GnT's), because you can actually see the degradation happening, even from way up high.

Simon gives as examples how much of Mpumalanga is under open-cast mining, or the effect of logging in the Amazon basin. Or take a look at where great chunks have broken off the Antarctic ice shelf, or where plumes of eroded soil are blowing out to sea...

(- Olivia Rose-Innes, Health24, April 2009)

See EnviroHealth Tips for lots more quirky eco-warrior behaviour.

Gear, Simon. 2009. Going Green: 365 Ways to Change Our World. The Penguin Group (SA) (Pty) Ltd.


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