Making the planet a better place one day at a time

2010-04-13 00:00

SEWAGE flooding in the streets of London, a referendum on carbon dioxide rationing in Europe and killer storms across the United States: the year is 2015 and global warming is wreaking environmental havoc across the world.

This may sound like something from fiction, because it is, but the scenario is also too frighteningly close to future reality to be dismissed.

A book I read recently disturbed me deeply about the future of our planet unless we wake up and smell the forests burning, the garbage piling up and the exhaust pipes pumping filth into the atmosphere.

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd was published in 2008. It’s the diary of 16-year-old Laura Brown of London who records the first year of carbon dioxide rationing in England. It paints a bleak picture of environmental devastation and social collapse.

The sequel, The Carbon Diaries 2017 was released in the UK recently.

However, environmentalists agree that reading and talking doom and gloom about our planet are not going to change its grim future. We all know about pollution, global warming, environmental degradation and reducing our carbon footprint. Knowledge is not the issue. Behaviour is. We know that unless we change the way we behave, there may not be much of a future at all.

Despite all our knowledge, “we roll back into old habits”. So says well-known television weatherman Simon Gear, and experts would agree with him.

In my state of distress about the future of the planet, especially for my children, I was pleased to stumble across a book by Gear that addresses the question of “So what are we going to do about it?”

More particularly, what can each one of us do to change our behaviour and help to divert our world from the path to destruction that it’s currently on.

The book is called Going Green: 365 Ways To Change Our World and it addresses “Making the planet a better place, one day at a time”.

The foreword is written by the irrepressible radio personality Jenny Crwys-Williams, who points out that “this doesn’t mean that life as we know it has come to an end; it has simply changed and for the better … We can save the world, one small person after the other.”

Gear gives his word that he either tried every one of the ideas in the book or is prepared to try them. He claims that as a result of this, “softness and stillness” entered his life, which he hopes will enter the lives of those who put the ideas into practice.

Fortunately, this is not that difficult to do, depending on your level of commitment to saving the planet and your willingness to behave differently.

The book is divided into sections that offer ideas for different areas of life: home and garden; family, work and community; food and drink; and travel and leisure. The ideas vary from the basics to fairly sophisticated for those already living by the “recycle, reuse and swop” mantra.

It includes ideas for getting the whole family involved, including your children.






• Going Green is published by Penguin Books.




Save water

• Put a brick in the cistern.

• Install a dual-flush toilet.

• Switch off the tap when brushing teeth.

• Shower, don’t bath.

• Use drip irrigation, not sprays in the garden.

• Plant indigenous plants.

• Minimise the amount of lawn you have.

• Collect grey water from the sink and bath to water the garden.

• Harvest rain water in a tank.

• Plant trees on special occasions.


Save electricity

• Set the washing machine at 30 degrees.

• Drip-dry washing.

• Install solar water-heating panels.

• Defrost and clean the freezer regularly.

• Use an electric blanket not a room heater.

• Close the doors of heated rooms.

• Run only full dishwashers.

• Don’t overload the fridge.

• Cover cooking pots.



• Let your kids grow up dirty.

• Neuter your pets.

• Limit the size of your family.

• Buy battery-free toys.

• Recycle shopping bags.

• Celebrate world environmental days and weeks like Africa Environment Day and World Day for Water.

• Use econappies and not disposables.

• Use and reuse gift packets instead wrapping.

• Get buried in a cardboard coffin.

• Donate to charity instead of sending flowers.

• Choose sports carefully — golf is the worst, running the best.


Food and drink

• Eat less meat and sugar.

• Drink more water and less juice.

• Plant veggies and herbs.

• Eat salad.

• Support farmers’ markets.

• Cook with gas.

• Eat less more often.

• Brush your teeth more often — you won’t snack so much.

• Boil only the water you need.

• Make your own beer and wine.

• Buy box wine.

• Brew coffee at home — don’t go out.

• Eat and cook with leftovers.

• Plan meals carefully.

• Eat fewer takeaway meals.

• Keep chickens.

• Stop smoking.


• Set printers to print on both sides of paper.

• Form a green committee.

• Carpool.

• Teleconference, don’t travel.

• Work from home once a week.

• Get your business’s environmental footprint audited.

• Install a shower at the office and cycle to work.

• Take the stairs, not the lift.

• Print in black and white instead of colour.

• Put up signs to encourage behaviour change, such as “Please save water” in the toilets.

STUDIED: honours in climatology, Wits University

FIRST JOB : geography teacher

LIVES: Johannesburg

WORKS: media weatherman, partner in an environmental consultancy, freelance writer


ENJOYS: road running, writes for a running magazine

HOBBY: flying, has private pilot’s licence

FAMILY: married to Sarah, father of Adam and Amy

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.