The Sustainable.co.za Blog
We were suddenly given a ray of hope amid the current political gloom when the Western Cape High Court declared the Nuclear Procurement process unlawful. Launched in October 2015 by Earthlife Africa (ELA) and Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), their case contends that the government is violating the constitution by concluding deals without first debating it in Parliament. While this will hamper the Nuclear Program, there is still a long fight ahead and all gains made in the interim will stand testament to the value of renewable energy.
Every step taken towards renewable energy diminishes the argument for Nuclear Energy. Rooftop solar has the potential to put Eskom under a lot of financial strain, leaving no option but to opt for the proven cheaper and safer renewable energy. Every kWh supplied by these alternative sources prevents the release of about 1kg CO² per unit of electricity. As the industry develops and allocates more funds to research and development it will become even more competitive.
No discussion on Nuclear and Renewable Energy is complete without taking full account of the risks posed by nuclear power. Only November last year was the final structure moved into place at Chernobyl to contain the nuclear waste, replacing the aging concrete structure that was erected in the weeks following the explosion. The biggest ever movable man-made structure is finally in place 30 years after the disaster.
The catastrophic events following the Fukushima disaster on 11 March 2011 should be a reminder to us that contingency plans are not adequate when dealing with fission reactions. The power plant automatically switched off when the earthquake occurred which means the cooling of the reactors had to be powered externally by 13 diesel generators, only they were flooded by the tsunami causing hydrogen build-up in the reactors and their eventual explosion. The severity of the radioactive leaks into the atmosphere and the ocean will only become evident over time. Even so 116 children in the area have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer since the disaster, 20 – 50 times higher than the national average.
The disposal of radioactive waste is considered a minor problem and mostly ignored by nuclear proponents, hence the absence of a permanent disposal plan for the high level waste i.e. spent fuel kept at Koeberg which is growing by 30 tons every year. In addition, 500 steel drums and 100 concrete drums of low to medium level nuclear waste from Koeberg gets buried every year at the Vaalputs Disposal Facility, 100 km south of Kimberley, and this from only two 900 MW reactors compared to 9600 MW planned for Thyspunt. A further cause for concern is the proposed fracking in the area which can lead to earth tremors, a factor almost certainly not considered when the 10 000 hectares was acquired in 1983.
As if this is not enough problems for the Northern Cape, a local subsidiary of an Australian company, Peninsula Energy, has acquired 750 000 hectares of uranium exploration concessions in the Karoo. The hazards of Uranium mining are well known and pose a much greater threat to the region than commonly acknowledged. Half a million tons of waste rock and 100 000 tonnes of toxic waste tailings will need to be extracted to yield 25 tonnes of Uranium, enough to supply a reactor for one year.
The abundance of solar and wind energy in South Africa are well documented. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) estimates that rooftop solar installation alone can provide 136TWh and the EIA areas can provide a further 420TWh when the aggregate demand currently stands at 225TWh. Critics of renewable energy point out that electricity demand peak in the evening due to increased domestic use and would thus need conventional ‘base load power’. Fortunately, wind power can take up the slack when the sun sets.
Let’s look at the facts before shunning this as hippie conjecture. In theory, if we allocate 0.1km² for every MW wind generation capacity, our nation’s 1.3 million km² surface area can generate 38 000 TWh wind power per year. This is based on a load factor of 0.36 when in Germany in 2015 working on a load factor of 0.2, wind power amounted to 77TWh (at 44GW capacity), about a third of our annual demand.
Since the first of four REIPPPP bid windows in November 2011, the cost of Solar Power has dropped from R3.65/kWh to R0.62/kWh and Wind power dropped from R1.51 to R0.62/kWh, whereas the cost of coal power currently stands at R1.3/kWh and Nuclear R1.17 - R1.30/kWh. Sadly the bidding has been stalled by Eskom since November 2015 and 37 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) are left waiting to invest over R50 Billion in the country.
Clearly there are vested interests in the fossil fuel industry that view renewable energy as a threat to its profits. Acting Eskom CEO, Matshela Koko, claims he is prepared to sign the IPP bids at the current tariff, but this may be up to the new CEO stepping into office in June.
By now you may be well aware that certain municipalities have placed strict limits on water consumption as dam levels have shrunk to alarming percentages over the last couple of months. And, with parts of South Africa still caught in the grip of drought, water conservation should be a top priority for all citizens. Even if you live in a region where water is slightly more abundant, your household is urged to reduce its water footprint.
Not only will water conservation help lower your utility bill so you don't have to turn to a Personal Loan to make ends meet, but grey water recycling can also help prevent water pollution in local dams and lakes. In this article, written in collaboration with Hippo.co.za, we present ways how you can put grey water to good use. These tips are adapted from Hippo.co.za's original post How to Save Water and Recycle Grey Water in Your Home.
What is grey water?
Grey water is usually meant to go down the drain after you are done showering, bathing, doing the dishes or the laundry. It is waste water that contains relatively small amounts of chemicals from soaps, shampoos, and washing powders, which can be safely reused to keep your car shiny or your grass looking great.
How to harvest grey water manually
Usable waste water can be captured with minimal manual input through a grey water system; however, these can cost a pretty penny. Fortunately, extracting grey water can be done without special equipment if you’re willing to put in the effort.
- After washing the dishes, use a dish pan to scoop water out of the basin and into a bucket.
- If you're washing your hands or rinsing vegetables, place a bucket under the tap to collect the water.
- When showering, place a bucket in the shower with you.
- Connect the drain hose of your washing machine to the sealed laundry sink where you can collect the water. If possible, point the drain hose directly to nearby plants if the water can flow into that direction without creating a mess.
- Unused water from your pet's bowl can be emptied directly into pot plants.
You can opt to have a grey water system do all the work for you. When installing a grey water device, you can consider either a diversion system or a greywater treatment system. Diversion systems distribute grey water without using biological processes to convert the water into a purer form. This system normally transports grey water directly to the garden or toilet; however, they can also be equipped with a surge tank to help leverage the pressure of water flow as well as filters to remove particles such as hair from the pipes.
A greywater treatment system goes the extra mile by disinfecting and removing all chemicals from the grey water, which can be used for laundry or your irrigation system. This option is more viable if you need to use the water for a vegetable garden or if your area is severely affected by water shortages when you can put purified grey water to other uses besides the garden or your car. Water is a valuable resource which is why it's vital for everyone to do their bit in making sure each drop counts. For additional water saving tips, read the full article on Hippo.co.za's blog.
Sustainable.co.za is proud to be collaborating with Greenpeace Africa to bring you news, call to actions and events on the good work Greenpeace is doing to effecting Climate and Energy change on our Planet. We will be featuring articles from members of the Greenpeace staff, how you can help with raising awareness and exclusive promotions on renewable energy products and information. Please continue reading below on the action Greenpeace is taking and how you can help.
Let’s not beat about the bush. All environmental threats are serious, but climate change might just be the biggest threat mankind has ever faced, particularly in Africa. Africans aren’t responsible for climate change; the industrial nations are the worst offenders. But it is Africans who will pay the steepest price.
The energy sector is the worst offender, creating almost 66 percent of all greenhouse gases. Yet in South Africa, where the government is faced with a major energy supply problem, their answer seems to be the building of more coal-fired energy stations, a 'solution' which only serves to worsen the problem.
Greenpeace is locked in a desperate struggle to change people’s minds, especially the minds of the country’s leaders. We need to change the view that nuclear power is a cheap and effective solution to our energy problems -- it's not. We want to start a revolution in the thinking around energy, promoting the use of renewable energy sources, and saving the continent and creating jobs in the process.
How to donate
By becoming a member you'll join Greenpeace in our work to protect our precious planet and find the solutions we need to our most important environmental issues. You'll enable us to investigate, campaign, and lobby for a sustainable balance between humans and the environment. With your help we'll expose environmental abuses, raising awareness to protect our oceans, forests, and our climate – the very life support systems of our planet.
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We have two options for you! We are working with the Given Gain platform for secure donations. Just click here and follow the steps. Or, if you live in South Africa, you can use our secure form to make your online donation directly.
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It's the support of caring people like you that gives us the courage and the resources to take on the goliaths in our society -- those who would otherwise recklessly plunder our oceans, tear down forests, and pollute our precious rivers. Greenpeace relies on donations from generous individuals to carry out our work. In order to remain independent, we do not accept funding from governments, corporations or political parties. We can't do it without your help. Please support us today.
Click here to read more about Greenpeace 'Walking the Talk' and turning their new offices in Randburg carbon neutral.
Right from my post graduation days, I have been a strong advocate of using and implementing Renewable Energy. In Greenpeace, we lobby with governments locally and globally to shift towards a 100 % renewable energy for the benefit of the planet and all of us.
We recently moved our offices to Randburg and as part of the move we wanted to go carbon neutral on our energy consumption. Being the energy expert, I took lead on the project and one of very first step is monitoring your energy needs and consumption pattern. As an office space, most of our daytime energy needs come from workplace lighting, having close to 480 tube lights that is a lot of “$$$”. So the first investment we made was to retro fit all our existing light’s to LED’s. This saved close to 50% of our energy due to lighting. Not just the energy , we also had a good 40% jump in our light output (lux levels)
These LED lights come with a 5 year warranty, as you can see from the images light intensity has gone up. From my perspective, the LED retrofit is definitely a rewarding investment which will give you returns right from day one both in terms of energy savings = $ saved and increased light output = happy employees. Who ever is looking to reduce your electricity bill I would recommend to start off LED retrofits both for commercial and household purposes. So the first step, is now complete. To know more about what I did for “walking the talk” keeping watching this space.
By Anand Prabu Pathanjali
Climate and energy Campaigner
Every year people switch off their lights for an hour as a collective gesture towards the protection of the environment. Unless you have a streak of Nyctophilia chances are that you would, like most people, prefer to avoid stubbing your toe against the kitchen table leg. If you are a shoe-wearing environmentalist, you'd probably prefer to avoid falling down the stairs when your shoes fail to warn you of the impending drop. Either way, some form of eco-friendly lighting might not be such a bad idea. Yes, we seize every opportunity to promote our wonderful products, see the full range of solar lights here.
On the 25th of March at 8:30pm local time, people across 24 time zones will be coming together to make a noise in the interest of our only terrestrial home. There’s still a lot of sceptics out there, not to mention national leaders who choose to ignore the realities faced by future generations. Sadly, our society’s myopic policy-making is slow to catch on to the real dangers, but governments and corporates are at last starting to shift their stance on this issue that can no longer be ignored. China is finally enforcing stricter carbon cutting measures on a city-level and its notorious law enforcement isn’t accepting lame excuses; no more “the dog ate my emissions certificate” for Chinese factory owners. Freight ships entering Chinese harbours now have to switch off their diesel engins and take on power lines from the port authorities.
We have all heard arguments that the earth has been through warmer periods before and that the current warming is due to natural cycles i.e. change in orbit over 100 millennia, the latter has off course been disproven. Increasing levels of CO2 and Methane are the leading cause of present climate change, the far-reaching consequences of which are already becoming apparent in ways far more disastrous than with natural warming. These changes are often far removed from our everyday lives yet thousands of children are dying the world over from pneumonia directly linked to hazardous air quality, but the urgency of environmental policies are still being questioned?
This year we are privileged to be working with WWF and Green Peace to lobby for the renewable sector, an industry that continually has to justify itself and overcome bureaucratic hurdles. Moreover, the 4th Annual Eco Film Festival will be taking place around Earth Hour, as a co-sponsor, the Sustainable team is looking forward to take part in this event. Whether you are at a festival, sitting at a family dinner table or camping in the bush with stars overhead, join millions of people in a mass demonstration to affect change.
What can I do other than jumping up and down and banging on Parliament’s door?
- Sign this petition to urge Eskom to lift the brakes on renewables
- Add your event to the Earth Hour events map powered by Timescape
The 4th Annual SA Eco Film Festival returns to Cape Town and surrounds, proudly supported by leading Western Cape ECO Friendly business partners Sustainable.co.za, Ballo, Reliance and Hemporium.
This years Festival theme is #ChangeIsHere in light of a tumultuous 2016 – which took the record for the hottest global temperatures ever measured, served up several political surprises across continents and saw burgeoning technological advances from driverless cars to falling costs of renewable power – whatever your opinion or beliefs, #ChangeIsHere.
With engaging and thought provoking program content the Festival seeks to explore what changes are needed, and how our personal change can affect the world for the better. We are proud to be showcasing challenging, intriguing and creative film content from SA and across the World highlighting issues that effect us all, whilst introducing participants, filmmakers and audience members alike to sustainable living choices and life style changes that are available, today.
With audience Q&A’s, guest speakers and more, this years SA Eco Film Festival is gearing up to create an ever bigger impact than ever before.
The program covers a broad range of pressing topics, each with a unique approach highlighting the urgency of the environmental situation and offering hope by uniting people working towards a solution. Among the issues covered are population growth and its devastating combined effect with consumerism; escalating global trade and the impact of the massive maritime freight industry, the hidden realities of climate change on the oceans and ideas to utilise this vast resource in addressing water scarcity. The exposé continues with threatened seed banks and the patenting thereof by corporate greed and social injustice still rampant in child slavery. Underpinning these themes is a call to action to protect what we take for granted and debunking an outdated system no longer in line with the demands of the future.
BEFORE THE FLOOD (96 MINS, USA, 2016)
Leonardo di Caprio travels to five continents and the Arctic speaking to scientists, world leaders, activists and local residents to gain a deeper understanding of climate change and the concrete solutions to the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.
CAN YOU DIG THIS (80 MINS, USA, 2016)
These South LA "gangster gardeners" are creating an oasis in one of the most notoriously dangerous places in America. Not a story of science and economics but a story of the human spirit, inspiring people everywhere to get on and "plant some shit."
CHANGE (5 MINS, SINGAPORE 2016 - ANIMATION)
Constant change is a natural part of Earth’s life, and its interconnected systems can easily adapt to slow change. But the natural balance gets disrupted when changes happen rapidly. Our growth and prosperity are changing Planet Earth, and some of those changes may be forever.
CYCLOLOGIC (15 MINS, SWEDEN/UGANDA 2016)
Traveling the streets of Kampala by bike is exhausting and dangerous. Chaotic and dangerous traffic, endless queues, pollution, motorcyclists and cars attacking you from every angle. Politicians seem to have given up on finding a solution. But there are a few people who strive to show that there are alternatives. Urban planner Amanda Ngabirano's biggest dream is to have a cycling lane in her city. An impossible task according to many.
Not according to Amanda.
DEATH BY DESIGN (73 MINS, USA 2015)
Just what is the cost of our digital dependency? Director Sue Williams debunks the notion that electronics is a “clean” industry. From early poisonous practices in Silicon Valley, to China’s ongoing dumping of chemicals this is a story that isn’t being told - but can no longer be ignored.
FOOTPRINT (82 MINS, FRANCE/USA 2016 – SOME SUB-TITLES)
Takes a dizzying spin around the globe, spending time with indigenous health workers, activists, and the ordinary people who challenge ideas and suggest changes needed to cope with the weight of humanity’s footprint on the world.
FREIGHTENED (84 MINS, SPAIN/FRANCE 2016)
'Sea blindness' refers to a shroud of secrecy that allows hugely lucrative shipping companies to shirk labour, ecological & ethical responsibilities. As trade globalises, so do goods and services – at an alarming cost. Denis Delestrac exposes devastating effects of freight shipping & suggests workable solutions that prioritise consumer awareness & commercial accountability.
KAYABIKE (45 MINS, SOUTH AFRICA 2016)
The life of a kids and their BMX coach training in a South African township (Kayamandi), waiting for competition day. Throughout the process they will learn much more than just how to pedal.
KOKOTA (30 MINS, CANADA 2016)
Kokota was teetering towards collapse, climate change and local deforestation were the culprits. This inspiring gem shows how unlikely heroes have managed to adapt to a warming climate.The film promises to leave audiences around the world believing that simple solutions really can have huge impacts for change.
LITTLE TEETH (7 MINS GERMANY 2016)
Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest exporters of shark fins. They are consumed in a soup that is considered a delicacy. Rising demand devastates the balance of the ocean. One surfer in Bali didn’t just stand back and watch - he convinces local fishermen to sell the sharks to him alive instead of killing them. This short includes the release of rescued baby sharks into a protected marine park.
NORMAL IS OVER (103 MINS, NETHERLANDS/SA 2015)
A compelling film chronicling the way humans have inadvertently imperiled our planet, while Offering changes and solutions, from practical everyday fixes to rethinking the overarching myths of our time. This film is intended to challenge viewers on many different levels but, most of all, offers hope.
SEA OF LIFE (86 MINS, CANADA 2016)
Sea of Life seeks to inspire change by bringing audiences an eye-opening adventure from the beautiful world of coral reefs. There are introductions to the heart of the environmental movement, meeting passionate scientists, activists, and explorers who reveal an enormous opportunity to rise up and become the heroes the world needs.
SEED – THE UNTOLD STORY (94 MINS, USA, 2016)
A David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food, this harrowing and heartening story features reluctant heroes rekindling a lost connection to our most treasured resource and reviving a culture of life.
TAWAI (100 MINS, UK 2017)
Bruce Parry, BAFTA award winning documentarian, explores what has happened to humankind since we stopped roaming and began to settle. From the jungles of Borneo to India and from the Amazon to the Isle of Skye what has happened to our societies, to our relationships with each other, and how we relate to the natural world?
THE AGE OF CONSEQUENCES (80 MINS, USA, 2016)
The Hurt Locker meets An Inconvenient Truth, this film investigates the impacts of irreversible climate change through the lens of US national security and global instability. The film's unnerving assessment is not a reason for fatalism but a call to action to rethink how we use and produce energy.
THE CHOCOLATE CASE (90 MINS, NETHERLANDS 2016)
In 2003, a group of young Dutch journalists began a campaign against child slavery in the cocoa industry. Their journey towards a slave-free world cocoa began as part of a report on a current affairs TV program. Combining archival material with new footage and interviews an inspiring story is brought up to date.
THERE WILL BE WATER (58 MINS, DENMARK 2016)
With the world rapidly running out of water, British engineer Bill Watts has a big idea: turning salt water into an energy source, and using large desert areas to produce energy, food and clean water. But turning his lightbulb moment into a viable commercial prospect proves a difficult nut to crack.
THE VALUABLE WASTE (47 MINS, NIGERIA 2016)
Waste management is a problem everywhere. Now, with the cooperation of stakeholders and social groups contributing and participating in managed recycling schemes at a local level, a clean and healthy environment seems a possibility through a sustainable development in West Africa.
WHAT IS REAL (79 MINS, SOUTH AFRICA 2016)
Join South African director, Jay Mac, as he narrates a world of change through a method called, Jivamukti Yoga. Told through the people that made that history around the world, spanning over three decades including Sting, Russell Simmons, Krishna Das, Donna Karan, WAH, MC Yogi and many more...
WOMEN ARE THE ANSWER (90 MINS, AUSTRALIA 2016)
Population growth has been left out of the climate debate because it is seen as controversial. The global population has passed the 7 billion mark, but one state in southern India has found a solution. The unique history of Kerala and ‘the Kerala Model’ is outlined, using it as an example of achieving population control in developing countries without coercion.
With 2016 experiencing the lowest rainfall recorded in South African history and water restrictions implemented nationwide, it is no wonder that there is a growing number of people concerned about the future of our most precious commodity - water.
At Sustainable.co.za, we have turned our focus to providing the latest and most affordable options to save water in your own home. We also have a few tricks up our sleeve for those who are not in a position to buy the goods but still want to be a part of the solution.
First and foremost, you must try to reuse water at home, this can be done in the following ways:
- * Endeavour to buy eco-friendly detergents and soaps so that the water is safe for your garden.
- * Put a small amount of water in your bathroom basin so people can use this to wash their hands.
- * Shower for 5 minutes or less.
- * Leave a bucket in the shower and cover the drain with it so that it collects the excess water.
- * Switch off the shower when washing your hair or body.
- * Fill the kitchen sink with water in the morning and reuse to wash dishes. If it gets cold, take some of it out with a jug and boil it.
- * Try not to flush the toilet too often - if it is yellow, let it mellow (maximum of three uses), if it is brown, flush it down.
- * At the end of the day, the water from the shower, sink and basin can be used in your garden or to fill your cistern.
- * Put a brick or a 2litre bottle of water into your cistern. This will reduce the capacity of the tank and thus use less water.
- * Try not to bath, but if this is all you have, ensure that it is a shallow one and reuse the water as above.
- * Do not top up your pool unless you are using recycled water.
- * Use a pool cover on your pool to prevent evaporation. Please ensure that this is safe for children and animals.
Not just another green hype, hemp could replace cotton as one of the main sources of fibre for the textile and paper industry. The incredible efficiency of this crop is partly the reason competing industries in the USA campaigned for its ban in the 1930s. Without getting into the controversies surrounding the legislation of hemp farming, let’s take a look at some of the obvious advantages of hemp as a crop and textile.
Remarkably hemp produces 200 – 250% more fibre per area compared to cotton, using about half the water. Cotton accounts for about 25% of global pesticide use posing various environmental and health hazards. Hemp on the other hand can be cultivated without any use of pesticides or herbicides, in fact it’s known to be effective in suppressing weed due to its thick high growth. In little more than three months, hemp can grow up to four metres high, the bast fibres from the bark gets harvested for textile and the hurd in the core utilised in the paper industry.
Tired of a new garments wearing out after just a couple of washes? Hemp is proven to be three times stronger than cotton. It offers the greatest UV protection of any natural fabric and has excellent breathing properties. In addition, hemp absorbs and dissipates moisture at a greater rate than cotton making it ideal for the coming summer. While not as soft, hemp does improve with wear and after every wash but is best combined with cotton in garments. Naturally, hemp is ideal for bags and backpacks and can be viewed here together with other accessories from Hemporium.
Hemporium is the leading provider of hemp products in South Africa and is on the forefront of hemp research and innovation. Their partnership with the trial farm near Wellington is providing valuable insight on the commercial viability of the crop and is an important stepping stone for cultivation as a sustainable South African commodity. We're proud to now be listing and promoting Hemporium products - an investment in eco-quality that’s proven to stand the test of time.
Well now you can. Christmas is a time for giving and the best investment you can make for your family is to "buy the earth" back.
At Sustainable.co.za, we believe that green living should be easy and add to your lifestyle rather than detract. Our little elves spend all their time ensuring that we not only have an expansive range of high quality, cost effective products available, but that there is something for everyone.
With warm Summer evenings, festive cheer filling the streets, and long, lazy days surrounded by family and loved ones, we certainly are lucky to spend this joyous day in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Gift of Christmas
We understand that Christmas gift shopping can be stressful with long queues, packed shopping centres and low or no stock available, it is not a very relaxing thought at a time of year when we need it most. Online shopping greatly alleviates this stress. Browse through our range at any time of day, ask advice and get everything delivered right to your doorstep from the comfort of your own home. Continue reading
...when South Africans celebrate the diverse cultural heritage that makes up a "rainbow nation". It is the day to celebrate the contribution of all South Africans to the building of South Africa(sic) —Lowry 21:1995
Why Heritage Day?
Heritage Day is arguably South Africa's favourite holiday because it is otherwise known as National Braai Day. South Africa's favourite past time!
Before delving into tips and tricks on how to make your Braai Day better than ever this year, let's have a look at why the 24 September is National Heritage Day.
Pre-1995, 24 September was know as Shaka Day in ode to the well-known Zulu King, Shaka Zulu. Shaka managed to unite all the tumultuous Zulu tribes into one cohesive nation. When the updated Public Holidays Bill was presented to the new parliament in 1995, 24th September was not listed. After the IFP objected to this, the IFP and parliament compromised with National Heritage Day. A day for all South Africans to celebrate their rich and diverse cultural history and traditions.
With braaing being a South African tradition across all cultures, many celebrate by stoking up a fire in the backyard, surrounded by friends and family. Continue reading