Learning…

Just a quick little post to say I’ve been learning lots of late, which is why I’ve been sort of neglecting my blog. 

I’ve been finishing off an updated version of the Greening your Business online course that I did last year, which includes more information about living sustainably, as well as started on an introductory course to Green Building.

Then, next week I’m doing WESSA’s “Understanding Environmental Impact Assessments” course. This should be rather interesting, particularly in light of my involvement with Friends of Rietfontein’s fight against the proposed K60 road, but also just in general to understand the process of EIAs.  (PS: big thanks to my parents who very kindly offered to pay for this course for me).

Will keep you updated.

The frogs need you…

Pickersgill’s Reed Frog - the focal species of the EWT's Threatened Amphibian Programme.
Pickersgill’s Reed Frog – the focal species of the EWT’s Threatened Amphibian Programme.

As you know I’m a bit of a froggie, with a particular love for reed frogs (see previous posts here, here and here), so of course I’m always keeping an ear and eye open for any updated news about our little threatened friends.

The EWT (Endangered Wildlife Trust) has a relatively new Threatened Amphibian Programme which focuses on the conservation of frogs and their habitats across the country. They are busy running a survey at the moment to establish the public’s perception with regards to frogs. Amazingly (to me anyway) some people are actually scared of frogs and there are all sorts of superstitions and fallacies involving them which inadvertently result in people doing harm to the precious little things.

Please download it at the link below, fill it in and send it back to the email address listed in the document. It won’t take long, but it will be very helpful to the EWT.

» Attitudes to Frogs – SA

Come and picnic with me

rietfontein_ridgeFriends of Rietfontein is having a picnic at the Rietfontein Nature Reserve this Sunday (23rd June) in the glorious winter sun*. I will be there and I hereby invite you to join me!

The picnic is part awareness for the reserve and part fundraising to help us fight the proposed K60 road development that will cut off the corner of the reserve if it goes ahead. We’re asking for a small donation of R20 per person and we’ll answer all your questions about both the reserve and the K60 should you have any.

Mainly though, we’d just like people to come and enjoy the reserve and spend some time outdoors with friends.

Full details about the picnic can be found on the Facebook event – please RSVP there too, and bring along your friends and family (just not your dogs – sorry).

* I know for a fact that the sun is glorious at the moment because I spent this past Saturday in it at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens. I even got a tad sunburnt!)

Pic taken by me of a beautiful Protea Caffra right on the top of the ridge in the Reserve. May 2013.

My theory about “green jobs”

Green JobsThere was a great article in the Mail & Guardian last week about humanity’s long slow suicide under the guise of the green economy – you know, the one that is going to save us all while simultaneously providing lots of new jobs. It reminded me about a theory I have about this promise of jobs that the new green economy is supposedly going to bring us.

I was actually given pause to think about this very issue earlier this year when I was interviewed by Terra Firma and while I ventured some of my thoughts, I don’t think I articulated it clearly enough. So to clarify, here’s my theory as it stands right now…

I believe that the idea/hope/dream that the green economy is going to miraculously provide more jobs is misguided. Yes, it certainly will provide some “new” jobs – but they will be “new” as in new technologies, new skill sets, new approaches, new job descriptions – not “new” as in additional job opportunities.

If we are to look at the industries involved in the green economy we see that they are the very same industries that already exist – energy, agriculture, water, construction, strategy, policy, consulting, waste management etc. The green jobs that we need to build a sustainable economy are not new jobs, they are existing jobs but with new training, new ideas, new understandings.

It’s all about reskilling. Builders will still build, but now they have green criteria to build to. Energy suppliers will still provide energy, but will use renewable sources. Landscape designers will still make pretty gardens, but now they’ll be more aware about water-wise plants and permeable surfaces. Electricians and plumbers will also still do their thing, only now they will install solar power or grey-water systems.

I will concede that there might be some small growth in artisan trade – hands-on work done by people without degrees or even formal education (which is great news for a country like SA) – but I don’t believe these will make a blip on the radar of formal job creation as a whole.

We need to realise that sustainability (and therefore by association, the concept of a ‘green economy’) is not a completely separate “industry”. To see it that way is to show a complete misunderstanding about what sustainability actually is.

Image via…

Counting the kilowatts

elec_meter

It’s possible that I may be getting a little bit obsessive about reducing my electricity use. To illustrate this statement, here are some of my newer actions and their reasoning’s:

  1. When I’m cooking anything at home, I try to only have one appliance running at once, or a max of two. So, for example, if I need to boil some water to make stock for a pasta sauce I’m making (which has already started and is on low on the stove) plus I also have to microwave something, I will not multi-task all 3 things. I wait until the kettle is done before using the microwave. I know both use a whack of electricity at once (even if for short periods) and I figure that spreading my electricity drawing load that little bit will somehow help with the overall load that Eskom complains about between 5 and 9pm.

    This also means that if I’m cooking a dinner that requires using 2 stove plates, I turn our electric heater off while I cook (assuming it was on in the first place). Generally I don’t feel cold while I’m in front of the stove cooking, so actually, having the heater while I’m cooking is a waste. And my other half hardly feels the cold, so he has yet to notice this new habit of mine.
    Read More »

Sharing my recycling knowledge

In my other life as a designer, I’ve done some work for the lovely Tanya Kovarsky who runs the blogs Rattle & Mum and Dear Max. We got to chatting about my green tendencies and she asked if I’d write a guest post suitable for her Rattle & Mum readers about recycling. I naturally jumped at the chance to do it – after all, any opportunity to share green info is worth acting on, right?

I thought it would be quick thing to bash out, but I have to admit that I actually battled a little to condense all the info in my head into something that I hope people will not only read, but also actually act on.

Girl recycling plastic bottlesTake a read for yourself and let me know what you think: http://www.rattleandmum.co.za/2013/06/04/dont-ignore-this-post-easy-recycling-tips-for-you-and-your-kids-that-make-a-difference/


Big thanks to Tanya for the opportunity and the very kind words! x

Photographic proof of our impact on our earth

NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, Time and Google have just released some amazing images showing the changes we’ve made to our plant since NASA started taking pictures of our planet via their Landsat program in 1984.

It’s startling. Amazing. Beautiful. And horrifying. All at once.

You can see the Amazon rainforests disappearing, glaciers retreating, gaping holes that are the tar sands growing exponentially. In the video, they talk about the ‘progress’ of human development – like new ‘land’ in the Dubai seas, and agriculture in the Middle East – but I’d prefer to call it further destruction.  As the article on Good.is puts it: “The takeaway is that we now have a tool to see up close just how devastating the effects of climate change are. And with that information, hopefully it will encourage us all to be stewards of change whether in our own backyards—on the micro level—or on a larger, macro level.”

Read more about it and see the animated gifs on http://world.time.com/timelapse/

An upcycled notebook

Inspired by some DIY and recycling ideas I found on Pinterest, and with only about 3 blank pages left in my current notebook, I decided to make my own new notebook out of paper I was given at past conference, with a cover and backing made from some old cardboard packaging. To make it I simply cut the paper and packaging to size and took the whole lot off to Jetline to bind for me. I think it turned out quick well – take a look:

It’s a littlie – A5 – perfect to fit into my handbag, and I reckon the Jungle Oats cardboard will be more than strong enough to withstand the bumps that being in a handbag will no doubt bring. I like it because it was cheap and easy to make, it’s unique and it has kept some cardboard out of the landfill for just a little bit longer.

What do you think? Novel and covetable or just a bit weird?

Do you think you would like one too? I’m thinking about making a few to sell if people are keen… Please let me know.