File image: IOL

CAPE TOWN-  With World Environmental Health Day coming up on September 26, Budget Insurance has issued a research report on eight ways to protect the planet and your pocket.

According to Budget Insurance, with humans consuming faster than Mother Earth can replenish, climate change wreaking havoc through hurricanes, floods and storms, and World Environmental Health Day, “there are a couple of very concerning figures that we need to face up to, and urgently address, when it comes to not only our planet, but also our pockets.

-Around the world, 1 million plastic bottles are bought each minute.

-An estimated 8 million metric tons, the weight of approximately 1 billion elephants  of plastic ends up in the ocean every year.

-According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), poor quality air affects over 80% of the world’s population, due in large part to our reliance on coal. In the same vein, the cost of coal-fired electricity has risen by over 500% since 2007, with another 20% increase on the horizon for next year.

-According to the United Nations, it is estimated that 783 million people do not have access to clean water and over 1.7 billion people are currently living in river basins where water use exceeds recharge.

“With so many resource and energy saving options out there and with hundreds of ways to reduce consumption and recycle, we can all find ways to cut down on waste and cut down on costs,” said Susan Steward, Marketing Manager of Budget Insurance.


Eight tips for going green on a budget:

  1. Kick the plastic habit – plastic is one of the biggest enemies to the environment today and a municipal waste disaster. Since synthetic plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it just piles up in landfills and is regularly eaten by various sea and land animals, with fatal consequences. One of the biggest contributors is disposable water bottles and plastic bags. So, try to keep a filled, reusable water bottle with you when you’re on the go to avoid having to grab a disposable one in the grocery line and keep a stock of shopping bags in your boot or handbag.

  2. Get geyser smart – did you know that you can save up to 90% of your household's hot water electricity expenses with a Solar Geyser? If you’re not ready for the changeover to solar power, get a timer for your traditional geyser to keep it from draining electricity unnecessarily.

  3. Get water-wise – you only need to look at, or indeed be living through, the dire situation in Western Cape to understand the immediate and crucial need for saving water.

  4. Go unplugged –   did you know that appliances or electronics on standby mode could be responsible for up to 10% of your annual electricity use? Think about your microwave, you use it for a few minutes every day but it’s on 24/7. In fact, according to a recent study microwave ovens are only used 70 hours in an entire year!

  5. Get composting – what could be simpler? The veggie peels and the rest of the organic waste you accumulate on a daily basis is right in front of you. If you think it sounds like a huge schlep, check out these easy and practical ideas.

  6. Get upcycling – and you don’t have to be a creative genius to do it because once again Google comes to the rescue with thousands of ideas of how to reuse those disposable plastic bottles, cereal boxes, old clothes and much more.

  7. Get recycling – more and more plastic-, paper- and glass collection points are springing up all over South Africa, so be sure to make a conscious effort to find out where those nearest to you are. Many “pickers” on SA’s streets will also be happy to take these materials to the collection point in exchange for much-needed cash.

  8. Give old technology a new lease on life – phone batteries and electronic components that find their way to landfills can be extremely toxic to the surrounding environment, so find an alternative way to ‘dispose’ of them. Look for charity shops in your area that buy and sell second hand goods. They are extremely resourceful and often have people that can fix old cell phones, printers and other electronics, or, at the very least, dispose of them in an environmentally responsible way.

“We are a worldwide community of 7.5 billion people. This brings with it massive people power to change our situation for the better. If each of us implements just a few of these tips into our everyday lives and think twice before carelessly throwing things away or using unnecessary power, we’d be doing our planet, and our pockets, a massive favour,” concludes Steward.