Greener House is a blog—meaning an online, public diary—created by Don Boroughs. It is aimed at South Africans who want to do the right thing for the environment in their day-to-day life.
I have found that many South Africans are enthusiastic about conservation and the environment, but find it difficult to link their concerns to their daily life. One reason is the pervasive attitude that pollution and global warming are created far from our homes, either overseas or in the big South African corporations like Sasol and Eskom. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each litre of petrol we buy, each kilowatt hour of electricity we use plays a greater role in global warming than the same fuels in other countries, because of the role of coal in South African electricity and petrol. We have a greater role, a greater responsibility than the people living in the “developed” world.
The other reason is a simple lack of information. Where can you take batteries for recycling? What attractive lighting fixtures are available that fit compact fluorescent bulbs? Which is better for the environment: a diesel or a petrol car? Over time, I intend to have answers to all kinds of questions like these available at Greener House, searchable and organised into categories.
Can one person make a difference? No, frankly, not by themselves. But few people who are concerned about the state of the earth really believe that one individual’s actions don’t count. If I shot a black rhino in Kruger, that single act would not have any direct impact on the survival or extinction of black rhinos as a species. But none of use would do that, because we know that the cumulative effect of poaching can result in extinction. Wasting water, paper, petrol or electricity, is no different–the cumulative effect matters.
I’ll never be able to see those cumulative results, however, so I’m mostly motivated by a different approach. One day my grandchildren may find themselves in a world with no more orangutans because their forests were all logged, or in a world with no more polar bears because previous generations burned fossil fuels as if there was no tomorrow, or in a South Africa plagued by constant droughts and falling crop yields. When they come to me and ask what I did to try to prevent these terrible losses, I want to have an answer.
You don’t have to live in a straw-bale house with a composting toilet and a car that runs on vegetable oil to feel at home in Greener House. It might be nice, but it’s not necessary. My own house—apart from the solar hot-water panels on the roof and the patch of wild bushveld outside my office—looks like an ordinary South African suburban home. There are a thousand changes we can all make without radically disrupting our lives. As long as our households are greener than they were the year before, we’re making progress.
Greener House is not just my house, it’s yours, too. I invite your questions, ideas and comments. I am not an expert in all fields. But together we can find the answers that can make a difference for the sake of the Earth and all its inhabitants. It’s best to write in the form of a public comment to a post on the website, by clicking on the “Comments” link at the bottom of each post, or article. If you would rather communicate privately, you can email [email protected] .