Book review: “Going Green” by Simon Gear



I finally got my hands on “Going Green – 365 ways to change our world” by Simon Gear (the SABC weatherman) and I really think it’s a super little book that your bookshelf needs and that would make a great Christmas gift to encourage others to “make the planet a better place, one day at a time”.

I particularly liked the fact that this is a South African book written with tips appropriate to South Africans. There quite a few go-green books out there but they’re usually geared to US or European lifestyles and don’t always translate well here (for instance, the push to use public transport – great idea overseas where those facilities actually exist – SA needs to work on this before it can be considered a viable option!)

Anyway, back to the book – It’s easy to read and written in a light-hearted manner that even got me laughing at some points. There is no lecturing or finger-wagging in here to ‘guilt’ you to going green – quite the opposite in fact – it’s all about living a simpler, easier, cheaper and healthier life.

You’ll find some tips that you might already know, such as: “set the washing machine to 30”, “start a compost heap” and “use both sides of your paper”, but then you’ll also find new nuggets like: “stop breaking the law” (one of my favourites), “make less noise” or “get buried in a cardboard coffin”.

You can easily just flip through the book and read a few tips at a time, or if you’re like me, go through it methodically, but either way I’m sure you’re going to be going back to this book a few times to find quick and easy ways to go green. It has certainly given me quite a few great ideas to add to what I do already. (Out of interest, I counted how many of Simon’s tips I have already included in my life: 82. Lots to go!!)

In closing, I whole-heartedly recommend you buy this book – it WILL have a positive effect on your life (or the life of the friend you give it to as a gift!)

“The Age of Stupid” – a movie not to be missed.


If you didn’t already know, the film “The Age of Stupid” had it’s global premiere today. Theatres all over the world were selling out for people to go and watch this new movie by Franny Armstrong about climate change. Unfortunately SA was only showing it at The Labia in CT, which clearly is a bit far for me to go just for a flick. Luckily they also premiered it online for people like me (go here: – you will need to register to see it tho).

I just watched it here at the office (thanks for the bandwidth Cambrient) and I’m so pleased I did. It spoke to me so much that if I could download this and cut it to disk to give to every single person I know, I would. Seriously.

It’s thought-provoking, sad, frustrating, inspiring and eye-opening. They’ve put it together in a very clever way (visit the site for more background info and trailers etc: and I love the fact that they end it with the need for a strong agreement to be reached at Copenhagen later this year, and have backed it up with a website full of actions and advice:

The one quote that stood out for me in this movie was the comment:
“We know how to profit, not to protect”.

How true is that? Doesn’t that just sum up the current world attitudes so succinctly? And yes, the truth hurts.

As much as a lot of it is distressing, I find it inspiring. It makes me want to fight back, to keep talking about green issues to anyone who will listen, to continue arguing about Eskom and their ‘need’  for power plants, to find out more about sustainable energy and talk down the nay-sayers, and to get involved in local activities even if my friends think I’m an idiot and fighting a loosing battle.

I have to you know – I really don’t see that there’s any other option.

Global climate wake up call – today at 12.18!

Today at 12.18 James and I are going through to the corner of Main & Sloane street in Bryanston to join some other concerned South African’s in the Global climate wake up call event.

More about the local involvement here: or

I plan on calling the new Presidential Hot Line to ask that they not only agree to attend the global climate talks in Copenhagen in December but also to commit to cutting higher percentages of carbon emissions, and to put more money behind sustainable and renewable energy instead of behind Eskoms coal mines.

Hope it has some kind of effect.

If I can take pics, I will.


Update: Our ‘event’ has been postponed to Friday in order to round up more people (same time, same place). Come join!

Update 2: Sadly I couldn’t make it to Friday’s action as I was out of Jozi. Next time…

Did you know it’s National Clean Up Week?

So, believe it or not, it’s National Clean up Week.  14th to 19th September.
You wouldn’t think so judging by the lack of publicized events or campaigns.

It was only a few months ago that Pikitup launched their “Clean City Clean Game” Campaign and held a Clean Up Day encouraging the public to get involved. No sign of any activity now tho, and you would have thought that it would have been a great opportunity to use.
Maybe the Clean Up Day wasn’t as successful as they touted in the media?

Or maybe our government didn’t feel like really supporting the cause this year. In truth, this isn’t a fair statement – some areas are involved – I wrote to the South African Government Information website and asked if anything was going on, and to my surprise they actually responded! Apparently the Eastern Cape is the only province that seems to believe in the cause with the following activity planned:

“The Clean Up programme will be a community based environmental campaign that inspires and empowers communities from every corner of Mthata to clean up, fix up and conserve their local environment.”

If you google “national clean up week” you’ll find loads of info about past years activities, so I really find it strange that this year got ‘forgotten’. Especially when you consider all the talk about cleaning up the country prior to the 2010 Soccer.

Pikitup even had a Clean City summit recently, where again it was reiterated that we need to tidy up before we’re on the world stage, and yet they let a great opportunity slip away.

I don’t get it. Did I miss something?


BluBird recycling initiative unfortunately disappoints

Even though I always take my recycling to the nearby Pikitup garden centre, I decided to take my e-waste and other bits and pieces that the garden centre won’t accept to the BluBird recycling weekend. I really wanted to see what they were up and had great expectations.

I was sorely disappointed. I went through at around 2.30 on Sunday afternoon, and when I arrived, I only spotted one guy taking all manner of computer, furniture and other bits and bobs. No-one and nothing else. One of the flyers was printed out at A3 size and placed under a tree and that was all that lead you to their “recycling event”.

I gave my one bag of stuff to this “I’ll-take-it-all” guy, but I didn’t get a chance to chat to him to find out more because he was already busy talking with two other people.

My first thoughts were that perhaps they hadn’t had a great response so far, so the other people had already packed up and left before I got there. But when I got to work on Monday, some of my colleagues asked me if I’d gone and we swopped stories.

Turns out that besides this guy there was one other church/charity lady there too, taking a few paper-based things (like she took books from a colleague) but that was it really.

From their pamphlet, I was expecting something more. Perhaps I dream too big, but I was expecting to arrive to find a number of bins and representation from the big players in the recycling world. I expected paper bins from Sappi or Mondi, a bottle bank from The Glass Recycling Company, Plasfed representation & people around to talk about the how’s, why’s and where’s of how to do get involved.

I was disappointed, because it is an idea/concept that really has merit in terms of providing a very easy way to get people to get rid of things easily while attracting clients to the shopping centre and is a great opportunity to create awareness and encourage recycling behaviour.

I do feel could be pulled off better, and I do hope that BluBird tries it again with more effort – or that other shopping centres give it a bash.

A shift in thinking

I’ve just read this great article on Harmonious Living by Rick Juliusson which I highly recommend you read also – his attitude and opinion is exactly how I feel (tho he expresses it way better than I do).

An excerpt:

The reality is that we need to do more than just change a little of what we do, or how we dispose of it afterwards. We need a fundamental shift in how we relate to the earth, to each other, to our families and communities…

When that shift happens – when we truly start understanding ourselves as responsible members of this small connected world – the checklist stuff [of environmental change] just naturally happens.

going green – a presentation

Download this file

My company has introduced a “Speaker’s Corner” once a month where someone gets a chance to say their say about something that’s different or interesting or their passion outside work etc. To start it off, they asked me to be the first speaker and to talk about “going green”.

I quickly accepted and was quite pleased I’d been asked to do this – it’s my first presentation ever about green things (and hopefully not my last!)

I think it went down quite well with those people who attended (unfortunately, not everyone came to listen) – I got a fair bit of feedback and questions both that afternoon and in the weeks since then. I hoped to just raise awareness, and to that end I think I did a good job. Even today someone was asking me about the “garbage patch in the sea” that I had mentioned.

Figured I’d share the PP here too. If you’re interested, you’re welcome to use it as you see fit, tho it would be very nice to hear if you do.


Update: the Scribd thing that posterous uses to display the PP on screen doesn’t seem to give you access to my notes which will add more meaning to the slides – download it if you want more info.