Learn About These Ecotips

Want to reduce your carbon footprint? Not sure how? Here are some basic tips for getting you started on a low-carbon lifestyle, be it at home or the office.

Home

1.  Electricity usage

     Due to our electricity being the product of coal-fired power stations, almost 50% of our carbon footprint is attributed to electricity consumption. Reduce you electricity usage by:

a.   Use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances

b.  Remove phone / laptop chargers directly from the socket, even when plugged in they are still using electricity.

c.  When using electric kettles for making tea or coffee, fill just enough water to make the amount that is required. Avoid overfilling the kettle.

d.  Tumble dryers are a good example of using electricity when we don’t actually need it. In South Africa we have an abundance of sunshine, so let’s put this to good use. Rather dry your clothes in the sun than using a tumble dryer which is energy wasteful and increases your electricity consumption.

e.   Having a spin-efficient washing machine will reduce the amount of energy required to dry your clothes, hence no need for tumble dryers. Wash your clothes on the lowest temperature setting, this makes little difference to your clothes but a huge difference to electricity usage.

f.   Invest in solar panels, it may be costly at first, but the return on investment is worth the while in the long term.

2.  Cold appliances - Avoid placing your fridge/freezers in rooms that receive a lot of sunlight, by placing them in the coldest room in the house minimises the amount of electricity required to maintain a low temperature.

3. Computers - After working on your computers, switch off the monitors. This reduces standby losses, it is also better to unplug your computers directly from the socket after use. It is better to use laptops rather than desktops, laptops are twice as energy efficient than desktops because laptops have been designed to use as little power as possible.

4.  Holidays – Across the world, air travel is responsible for about 2.5% of carbon emissions. Try going on holidays that do not require lengthy air travel, perhaps holiday closer to home. In you have to fly, offset emissions from unavoidable flights.

5.   Car travel – Avoid unnecessary trips, try to accumulate errands or shopping trips; this will reduce the number of trips you take in a car thereby reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions. Also try shopping closer to home and supporting local shops, manufacturers and suppliers. Ensure regular servicing of your car to keep it running efficiently

6.  Gym or the outdoors? If you live close to a park or the beach, rather go for a run in the park or on the beach rather than using a treadmill at the gym. This will reduce electricity usage that is required to power a treadmill as well reduce carbon emissions from your commute to and from the gym.

7.  Gardens – use grey water or rain water to irrigate your plants. Avoid watering your plants when the heat of the day has set in. The best time of the day to water your plants is early morning, this will avoid evaporative losses and provides enough water for your plants to get through the heat of the day.

Office

1.  Lighting - As with home use, electricity usage is responsible for a massive chunk of our carbon footprint. Consider reducing lighting intensity throughout the office.  Draw back blinds and curtains to allow natural light in and avoid the need for artificial lighting. Buildings that are north-facing make maximum use of natural light. Switch of lights when leaving the office.

2. Treeware  - Go paperless where possible - reduce your treeware or paper usage by printing only necessary documents. Adjust your printer settings to print double sided. Recycle office paper. Re-use envelopes and bags.

3.  Computers & appliances – Unplug computers as well as unused computer appliances at source, even when plugged in computers are still using electricity. Maintain office appliances to ensure they are operating efficiently.

4.  Car pool – Get employees to commute together and offer parking spots closer to the office entrance to encourage this. Car pools reduces the carbon emissions from individual commuting trips to and from the office. Car pools obviously work better when employees a living close to each other. A better option is to use public transport.

5.  Air travel – If a meeting can be done through audio, web or video conferencing, avoid flying. If air travel is unavoidable, offset emissions from air travel.

6.  Adopt open spaces within the building design – landscaping must be 100% indigenous which will avoid excessive water use. Irrigate landscape by using rain water or grey water.  

7.  Green suppliers – partner with ecologically conscious supplies for stationery, furniture and other office supplies. This will reduce your company’s indirect Greenhouse gas emissions.

8.  Be eco-smart - In place of business cards consider giving clients recycled pens with your business information on it.

9.  Fire fighting systems – Reduce the consumption of water for fire protection and essential storage systems. Such reductions will ease the pressure on South African water resources as well as contribute to more cost efficient operation of buildings.

10.Commit to a Greening programme – Develop an ongoing greening programme that best suits your business. Get staff involved and offer incentives for eco-conscious behaviour like cycling to work or carpooling. Contact ECA Consulting for assistance in developing an environmental management solution specifically suited to your company.

Be sure to regularly check this page for updates.

Contact ECA Consulting for more information on how to live a low-carbon lifestyle.

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