What it means to be green

In the media last week, Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, says her department is monitoring the decrease in one of country’s main water supplies, the Vaal Dam, 34% full.  “We are going to apply restrictions to the communities in Gauteng because there jhas been less appreciation of the water situation in Gauteng,” she says.

In light of the call to increase awareness of the scarcity of our natural resources, Retirementor, Jeunesse Park, reminds us of our connection with the earth and our need to be caring custodians.  This is the first of a series of articles that will provide practical tips going forward.

I have always felt a close connection to planet Earth, our home. Apparently as soon as I could walk I chose to be outdoors as much as possible. My grandmother and mother were ardent gardeners and I am told I spent many hours teaching flowers to dance and talking to the birds.

When I finished school, I took to the road and journeyed through many countries, visiting some of the most awe inspiring natural landscapes, the highest mountains, old forests, beautiful islands, pristine beaches, great clear rivers and vast deserts. Travelling back to these places, some a few years later and other decades on, I was horrified to find that most were shockingly altered, diminished, polluted or destroyed.

This disturbed me greatly so when I started a family, I sought to understand what we are doing to this planet in the hopes of sustaining and regenerating environments. I wanted my children to witness the beauty and enjoy a quality of life that I had been privileged to experience.

I thus decided to live a greener life and have spent the last three decades implementing environmental, climate change and food security programmes, and communicating to encourage others to be green. This has been an amazing journey. While not so long ago being green was considered the domain of hippies and tree huggers, it is now mainstream. More businesses, governments and communities recognise that these issues are crucial to our survival and wellbeing.

So, what does it mean to be green? Being green we pay close attention to how we impact our environment and life on Earth. Living a greener life means understanding that everything is connected and that every thing we do every day has an impact on the planet, good or bad. It means opting for a more sustainable and renewable way, focusing on lightening our footprint, the way we affect the balance of nature and our imprint on the planet. It means reducing, reusing and recycling, but it also means using less and being conscious of where the food we eat and the products we buy and use come from and go to. The great thing is that as individuals we have the power to control our choices, and thus our effect.

22In the next blogs we will explore how to put this into practice. We will look at how making small, and sometimes significant changes, lead to a greener lifestyle that can make us feel better about ourselves, save money, leave less damage and a healthier life and environment for our children, grandchildren and the future.

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