Words: Nicola Jenvey | Images: Shutterstock

Whether it is the electricity and petrol prices rising beyond inflation or a deeper understanding of why the ice caps in Antarctica are shrinking, the desire to reduce our carbon footprint by incorporating green living extends way ahead of a simple fad.

Between heating and cooling the house, putting petrol into the family car and simply living in a modern world, energy costs account for a significant percentage of the household budget. Yet, there are ways for reducing those costs and being a more respectable global citizen.

Solar installations

Regardless of whether your intention is to exist wholly off-grid or to supplement the household energy consumption by harvesting the sun’s natural energy, solar power provides an enduring means for living green. According to online eco-store sustainable.co.za MD Zeke Murphy, the initial investment of solar power is often sufficiently high to scare off potential buyers, but in reality the payback period and the subsequent rewards make solar power affordable to most home and business owners.

Solar power has initial set-up and transfer costs, but once paid-off, becomes a free, green-friendly energy source into the home. Its applications include solar geyser and solar panels for more extensive energy consumption. “We aim to make solar power affordable for everyone,” Murphy says.

Rainwater harvesting systems

South Africa is recognised among the world’s most water scarce countries and the recent closeness Cape Town and the broader Winelands area came towards touching Day Zero, has been an eye-opener for the importance of rainwater harvesting.

The solution adopted by numerous South Africans has been water harvesting, specifically rainwater tanks that ensure there is no wasted water. While harvested rainwater is not always potable, it can be used for the garden and, with adaptations to the plumbing system, become a potential grey water system.

JoJo Tanks MD Grant Neser says the company’s rainwater harvesting system consists of a tank that accumulates rainwater. It requires installing a pre-filtration solution as well as suitable guttering and piping to transport the rainwater to the tank, but the outcome is self-sufficiency and the convenience of not being dependent on regulated water resources.

Essentially, installing a water harvesting system provides a free and unlimited water supply; saves water by ensuring rainwater does not run into the gutters and out to sea; reduces personal water bills and can be potable if properly filtered.

Green flooring

Wooden floors are beautiful, particularly the old-fashioned intricacies involved in parquet. However, wooden flooring may not be the most environmentally friendly option depending on the sustainability of the chosen wood.

Bamboo is a natural vegetation with the plant being a highly renewable resource that grows to maturity within three to five years. This is substantially faster than hardwood trees that can take up to 20 years to reach maturity – and, given its ability to seamlessly elevate space, it has the benefit of allowing for individualism to take centre stage.

There are numerous ways for reducing your carbon footprint and making a contribution to living a greener lifestyle. Many of the options are low-tech, common-sense decisions, while others are more expensive and high-tech, but the bottom line is the same – becoming a more environmentally friendly citizen.