Earth Hour 2012 Is In Your Hands

September is Clean-up SA Month which means our focus is once again on staying green, recycling and saving our beautiful planet. Talk about saving the environment often becomes so emotionally charged and the scale of the problem is so enormous that it leaves one feeling helpless and exhausted. This time however there is some good news.

Did you know that South Africa has the second highest plastics recycling rate in the world (with Australia coming in first), or that our country recovers one million tonnes of paper each year?

Another bit of good news, according to the World Meteorological Organisation and the UN Environmental Programme, is the fact that the hole in the Ozone layer has stopped growing and is showing signs of healing.

“It shows that our efforts do count and this means that it is time to start doubling our efforts,” says Tony Rubin, Maropeng managing director.

“We still have a long way to go but it is good to know people are getting involved in trying to lessen the country’s carbon footprint,” he says.

Most people think of recycling or being environmentally responsible purely in terms of collecting plastic, paper, cans and glass and putting these in the appropriate recycling bins. Recycling our waste products is of course vitally important, however there are many other ways to lessen your personal, the country’s and finally the planet’s carbon footprint.

By supporting shops, organisations, businesses and hotels or resorts that recycle and are environmentally responsible, you not only become part of the process of helping the environment, your support also helps to create a demand for these products or places and in so doing, you help to create and strengthen the cycle of social and environmental responsibility.

“Sometimes it’s just about the choices you make about where to stay on your next business trip or holiday that can make a difference,” says Rubin. “For instance, by choosing to visit a Fair Trade Tourism (FTT)–Certified destination the next time you travel, you will be giving back to the environment as well as doing your bit for your social responsibility simply by being there and, you will be honouring the people and places that made your holiday or trip happen,” he explains.

FTT-certified businesses are committed to fair wages and working conditions, fair purchasing and operations, equitable distribution of benefits and respect for human rights, culture and the environment. Maropeng, who received their FTT-certification last year, is in fact a good example of this, visiting here, besides stepping in the footprints of our most ancient ancestors, also means that you are helping to support the local community as well as the environment.

Why not do your bit to help lesson South Africa and the earth’s carbon footprint?

  • Separate your waste products. Even if you are not able to deposit these at a recycling depot, you will be helping those making a living from collecting recyclable waste as well as the environment.

  • Buy recycled products. Show your commitment to sustainability by buying recycled products, this not only helps the environment, it also helps to increase the local demand for recycled products.

  • Stay at FTT-certified destinations when you travel.

  • Support small and local enterprises when and wherever you can.

“Let’s all continue to work together and support each other in saving and protecting our precious resources and treasures for our future generations,” says Rubin.