Earth Hour and Solar Lamps

earth hour 2012Earth Hour 2012 is coming up on March 31st. Earth Hour is a global event conceived by the WWF to raise awareness of climate change and the need to make more sustainable choices. Those who take part switch off all non-essential lights and appliances for one hour on that day between 8.30 and 9.30pm.

Lighting candles and sitting round the kitchen table chatting with family and friends, instead of watching TV or playing on computers or phones, can be an enjoyable and relaxing way of spending a Saturday evening. It also makes us realise quite how much electricity we use on an average evening without even thinking about it. Once you’ve toured the house switching off lights and lamps, computers, TVs, stereos, dishwashers and all the rest, you are left with just the glow of a candle or lantern and perhaps the hum of the fridge…it’s only the non-essentials we’re switching off after all.

Consol solar jar from South AfricaMoving another step forward towards eco-friendly habits might be to use solar lanterns instead of candles for your illumination during Earth Hour. It was pointed out recently by a true environmental crusader that your average candle emits just as much pollution into the atmosphere as the equivalent electricity for a light bulb, so that burning candles all evening isn’t really doing anything to help the environment however romantic the idea. So unless you have a wonderful supply of natural beeswax or soy oil candles, consider getting a few solar lamps for Earth hour and they will stand you in good stead all year round, providing a safe and clean light source in case of power outage and lovely mood lighting at any time of the year.

Solar lanterns are becoming stylish and innovative – check out these South African solar jars made from Consol canning jars which have been featured in Elle Deco and several other style mags since their launch in January 2012. Or these are the original sun jars designed by Tobias Wong. Or make your own sun jar from Mason jars and solar lids. Get ready for Earth Hour now and saving electricity can become a habit that will really make a difference.

The Cost of LED Lighting

LED lgiht bulbWhile many businesses have cottoned on to the cost-savings offered by smart LED lighting systems, us would-be green homeowners are taking a while to catch on.

The most common reaction to reading about LEDs is:

”They sound wonderful, but how much do they cost?”

“What???!!!! I could buy ten ordinary light bulbs for that!”

And then they put the idea on the back burner until they win the lottery.

The thing is that businesses have done their research, worked out investment v. return and their sums come out looking good. For a business a 90% saving in energy bills translates to a big reduction in overheads. The initial investment may be substantial but it is far outweighed by the long term savings. Put simply, LEDs make good business practice.

So why are many home-owners still dragging their heels? Partly I suspect because the lighting energy bills of a home are a fraction of what they are in a business. However with the ever rising price of electricity any way of saving energy is starting to look more and more attractive.

So to encourage us purse-strapped greenies along the way to converting to LED lighting, here are a few other things you can buy for the price of an LED light bulb, which as you’ll remember lasts for about ten years, saving you money on your electricity bills all the while and is at the end of its life non-toxic and recyclable.

pizzaA pizza – probably a large pizza with posh toppings, and maybe a glass of wine thrown in, but still – it lasts an evening, makes you feel bloated and you wake up regretting it next morning. No contest here – buy an LED light bulb and eat something healthy at home instead!

 

ponyTwo Schleich ponies – for my daughters this one would win out every time… but if you think about it, they’ll play with them for perhaps 2-4 years at the outside and after that they’ll just be a piece of plastic clutter that they’ll want to keep to pass on to their own children, who may turn out to prefer Lego or Galactic star-cruisers to ponies anyway!

 

bookThe latest book you’ve been waiting two years for… this is also going to be a struggle, but when did a book last save you money over a ten year life span? Why not get the Kindle edition and buy an LED light bulb with the money you’ve saved!

 

Before this turns into my family’s Christmas wish list, I’ll stop with the price comparisons and just say that LED’s really are a great investment.

Even if you can only make room in your monthly shopping budget to buy one each month, do it now. They’ll start saving you money from the very first minute.

You can even give them as Christmas gifts to green-minded friends – just don’t try giving them to your 9 year old daughter instead of the Schleich ponies!

How to Live Green In Baby Steps

taking-green-baby-stepsGoing green can be an intimidating process for many of us. There is so far to go from the average city lifestyle to get anywhere close to a green living idyll. We hear stories of people who have managed to go off-grid, grow all their own vegetables, compost everything and still have time to home-school, knit, weave and all the rest. We give up the idea and try to ease our consciences with a donation to an environmental charity.

If this sounds anything like you, I’d like to encourage you not to give up before you’ve begun. There are many ways to make our lives greener, even while still living a city lifestyle, even if you don’t compost a thing, and even if knitting and weaving is never going to be your cup of green tea.

Sustainable living can be achieved and the most sustainable way to get there, as with any change of habit, is in small steps. Baby steps are more likely to become lasting in your life.

Aim to adopt one small green habit in your life this month. Next month add another. When those two have become a normal way of life to you, pick another green habit to adopt. Little by little you will find yourself shifting towards a green lifestyle.

Only ever take on what you can cope with at any one time.

How to Live Green will feature lots of green ideas to choose from as your next baby step in our next posts. Pick whichever one appeals to you in the moment. Some you may find that you are already doing without even thinking about it. Living green is a journey. There is always another step to take. Enjoy the process!

Check out which of these green living baby steps you’ve already taken. Choose one new one to adopt this month.

Recycling plastic
Recycling glass
Recycling paper
Re-usable grocery bags (and remembering to take them with you!)
Walking instead of driving on short trips.
Planting a tree

Energy saving light bulbs (look at LED lighting as well as CFLs)
Switching off the tap when brushing teeth
Buying organic fruit and veg
Taking a reusable coffee cup to Starbucks
Green cleaning alternatives

There are loads more but we want to get into this gently , And remember just pick one at a time and make it a habit!

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