World Environment Day 2013 (5 June 2013) - Think.Eat.Save.

The theme of Think.Eat.Save for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign that encourages you to reduce your foodprint. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted.

This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger.Given this enormous imbalance in lifestyles and the resultant devastating effects on the environment, this year’s theme – Think.Eat.Save – encourages you to become more aware of the environmental impact of the food choices you make and empowers you to make informed decisions.

While the planet is struggling to provide us with enough resources to sustain its 7 billion people (growing to 9 billion by 2050), FAO estimates that a third of global food production is either wasted or lost. Food waste is an enormous drain on natural resources and a contributor to negative environmental impacts.

This year’s campaign rallies you to take action from your home and then witness the power of collective decisions you and others have made to reduce food waste, save money, minimise the environmental impact of food production and force food production processes to become more efficient.

If food is wasted, it means that all the resources and inputs used in the production of all the food are also lost. For example, it takes about 1,000 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk and about 16,000 litres goes into a cow’s food to make a hamburger. The resulting greenhouse gas emissions from the cows themselves, and throughout the food supply chain, all end up in vain when we waste food.

In fact, the global food production occupies 25% of all habitable land and is responsible for 70% of fresh water consumption, 80% of deforestation, and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the largest single driver of biodiversity loss and land-use change.

Making informed decision therefore means, for example, that you purposefully select foods that have less of an environmental impact, such as organic foods that do not use chemicals in the production process. Choosing to buy locally can also mean that foods are not flown halfway across the world and therefore limit emissions.

So think before you eat and help save our environment!

- See more at: http://www.unep.org/wed/theme/#sthash.Okr4pNNb.dpuf

22 April - Earth Day

Earth Day was allegedly pioneered by John McConnell in 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco and was intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's natural environment and to celebrate the wonder of life on our planet

Earth Day gives us an opportunity to make a fresh commitment to care for the Earth and to consider ways in which we can become proactive in caring for our precious Planet.

Fifth Week of Lent: Our daily bread

Prayer for the week:

O God, may we use the gift of our senses to see, smell, touch and taste your goodness shown in the daily

bread we share. Bless us as we live our lives with awareness of your loving gift of the natural world. May we always be mindful of the hungry who share the earth with us and may we be generous in providing for their needs. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Reading for the week:

John 6:12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”

Actions for the week – focussing on food

  •   Sunday 17th of March: Buy food that’s being grown or produced locally using local shops and farmers markets where possible avoid packets and tins that are imported from faraway places.
  •  Monday 18th of March: Eat by candlelight. How many rooms do you light in the evenings? Turn out the lights and enjoy a candlelit dinner! Meat-free Monday today!
  •  Tuesday 19th of March: Cook for free. Electric hotplates or ovens take a long time to cool, so why not turn them off earlier so your food finishes cooking for free?
  •  Wed 20th of March: Treat your fridge to a good de-icing to make sure it’s running efficiently.
  •  Thu 21st of March: Consider purchasing or making a wonder box
  •  Friday 22nd of March: . Put a lid on it. Put a lid on pans when cooking. Fish for Friday !
  •  Saturday 23rd of March: Cook your food in a microwave. They use significantly less energy than a conventional oven.  

Fourth week of Lent: Tread lightly

Prayer for the week :

Lord, teach us how to leave more than carbon footprints behind us; teach us how our daily choices and actions can be a part of your eternal interaction with the world. We want out imprints to make you proud, not sad.

Reading for the week

Rev 22:2 ‘The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations’.

Actions for the week – focussing on emissions

  • Sunday 10th of March: Tread lightly – try to travel by foot, bike, or public transport whenever possible.
  • Monday 11th of March: Drive more calmly. Aggressive driving, which includes excessive acceleration and frequent braking, wastes petrol. Go with the flow of traffic, and don't try to always pass other cars. Not only is this safer, but it can improve your mileage by up to a third on the highway. Remember meat-free Monday!
  • Tuesday 12th of March: Follow the speed limit. Most cars reach their optimal efficiency at around 90km per hour. Efficiency decreases rapidly above this. You'll save money, too!
  • Wednesday 13th of March: Double up journeys: do shopping on your way home from work, school or somewhere else you have to go today. Share lifts with friends or try to do all your errands together.
  • Thursday 14th of March: Don't idle, especially if you'll be waiting in one spot for more than a minute. Idling for 10 seconds uses about as much fuel as it takes to restart the vehicle, so it's more efficient to turn off the engine while you wait
  • Friday 15th of March: Turn off the air conditioning. Use your automobile's flow-through ventilation system or open the windows at lower speeds. Running the air conditioner can reduce your mileage by up to 20 percent. Enjoy some fish today!
  • Saturday 16th of March: Check your tire pressure once a month. Inflate your tires to the pressure listed inside the driver's side door or in the owner's manual. Do not inflate to the maximum pressure printed on the tire itself. Properly inflated tires last longer, are safer and can improve gas mileage by about 3 percent. 

Third week of Lent: The reality of climate change

Prayer for the week

Father, thank you for being a God who searches out the poor and vulnerable. Help me to put a face to climate change, so that it is not just an issue, but it's about a person who You created. Remind me of these people impacted by climate change whenever I feel unmotivated to make changes in my life.

Reading for the week

Isaiah 24:4-6

The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth's inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.

Actions for the week – focussing on electricity

  • Sunday 3rd of March :Say goodbye to standby. Check that all electrical equipment is switched off when not in use. The TV alone will save a hefty 20kg of carbon dioxide per year.
  • Monday 4th of March: Replace your missing bulb with an energy-saving light-bulb. Over its lifetime, you will save 60kg of carbon dioxide per year. Meat-free Monday!
  • Tuesday 5th of March: Have a discussion with your family about installing a solar water heater
  • Wednesday 6th of March: Unplug your mobile phone charger: it uses electricity even when it's not charging.
  • Thursday 7th of March: Switch off lights as you leave the room.
  • Friday 8th of March : when you replace old electrical appliances look out for energy-efficient models, they could save a third of the energy.
  • Saturday 9th of March: Only run your washing machine when you have a full load. 

Second week of Lent: Water the source of life

Prayer for the week:

Father, thank you for providing us with plentiful water to drink and meeting all our basic needs. Help us not to take any blessing for granted, but instead be faithful stewards of your earth's resources. As we make changes that may be inconvenient, we draw from your well of living water that never runs dry, and remember that everything we have comes from you.

Reading for the week

Psalm 104:10-13

He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.

Actions for the week: focussing on water

Sunday 24th February: Turn the tap off when washing and brushing your teeth

Monday 25th February: Find out where the water comes from that is used for baptism at your church. Consider getting involved in cleaning that river. Meat-free Monday!

Tuesday 26th February :Mend any dripping taps at church and the home

Wednesday 27th February: Take a shower instead of a bath: you’ll heat and use less water.

Thursday 28th February: Check your flush. Fill a two liter bottle with water and put it in your cistern to reduce water flow. Or consider installing a two way flush system.

Friday 1st of March: Only fill your kettle with as much water as you need. Eat fish today!

Saturday 2nd of March: If you need to add cold water when you fill the sink or run a bath, then your hot water thermostat is too high – try setting it at 55 degrees

First Week of Lent- Live more simply so that others may simply live

Reading for the week:

Colossians 3:12: Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience

Prayer for the week

Lord, give me a heart for your people already affected by climate change around the world. Help me to understand their needs and do my part to reduce their suffering, through lifestyle choices and political action.

Actions for the first week of Lent: Reduce, re-use, recycle 

Sunday 17th of February : Compost. Put the nutrients from food waste back into the soil – not into a methane-emitting landfill.

Monday 18th February: Re-use an item you would have thrown away – whether that’s jam jars, envelopes or ice-cream containers. Choose a vegetarian dish for today.

Tuesday 19th February: Avoid buying products that have lots of packaging. Choose loose products and buy refillable containers where possible.

Wednesday 20th February: Go through your clothes cupboard and give away any unused clothing you haven’t worn for more than a year

Thursday 21st February: Organise recycling at your church or office

Friday 22nd February : Make do and mend. Do you have clothes you could wear longer if you gave them a little TLC? Spend some time doing some sewing and mending. Eat fish today!

Saturday 23rd February : When you do your grocery shopping, buy simple foods and purchase some items to give away to those in need. 

Ash Wednesday – A Lenten Prayer

O Lord, who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore thee, a heart to delight in thee, to follow and to enjoy thee, for Christ's sake. (Ambrose of Milan, c 339-97)

God, in this world that moves at such a quick pace, help me to slow down. Let me savour the food and community you've blessed me with and spend time with you and not fall prey to the busyness our culture aspires us to. Amen.

 

Wednesday 13th of March: Double up journeys: do shopping on your way home from work, school or somewhere else you have to go today. Share lifts with friends or try to do all your errands together.

Thursday 14th of March: Don't idle, especially if you'll be waiting in one spot for more than a minute. Idling for 10 seconds uses about as much fuel as it takes to restart the vehicle, so it's more efficient to turn off the engine while you wait

Friday 15th of March: Turn off the air conditioning. Use your automobile's flow-through ventilation system or open the windows at lower speeds. Running the air conditioner can reduce your mileage by up to 20 percent. Enjoy some fish today!

Saturday 16th of March: Check your tire pressure once a month. Inflate your tires to the pressure listed inside the driver's side door or in the owner's manual. Do not inflate to the maximum pressure printed on the tire itself. Properly inflated tires last longer, are safer and can improve gas mileage by about 3 percent. 

Carbon Fast for Lent

Lent is a time of repentance and fasting, of turning away from all that is counter to God’s will and purposes for his world and all who live in it. This year, I invite you to focus your Lenten ‘acts of love and sacrifice’ (of which our Ash Wednesday speaks) on our contribution to climate change, and those most impacted by it.

Often we give something up, such as chocolate or alcohol. This year, focus your giving up (or making changes to your lifestyle), to reduce your ‘carbon footprint’ – your total impact of environmentally damaging greenhouse gas emissions, usually measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, hence the name.

A traditional Lenten observance is ‘Fish on Fridays’. Why not also have a ‘Meat-free Monday’ – or some other day, if on Mondays you usually eat Sunday’s leftovers? Did you know that ‘a kilogram of steak could be responsible for as many greenhouse gases as driving a car for three hours while leaving all the lights on at home’ (D Fanelli, New Scientist, 2007, 2613:15)?

We all need to ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. Below are suggestions to take you from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday. Each week focusses on a different part of our carbon fast, encouraging us to live more simply, conserve water, cut down on electricity, and reduce our use of petrol.

Let us ‘return to the Lord with all our heart; leave the past in ashes and turn to God with tears and fasting, for he is slow to anger and ready to forgive’ (APB, p.164).

May God grant us all a blessed and holy Lent.

Archbishop Thabo Cape Town 

2 February - World Wetlands Day

World Wetlands Day occurs on February 2, every year.

The 2nd February marks the date of the signing of the Ramsar Convention in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971.  World Wetlands Day was celebrated for the first time in 1997 and made an encouraging beginning. Each year, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits.

Wetlands are valuable in supporting life by:

  •  their ability to purify and store water;
  • their ability to ensure sustained water production by catchments;
  • providing humans with a range of services, functions and products that have direct economic, social and cultural value; and
  • being the warehouse of biodiversity through maintaining plant and animal species

Visit - www.wetland.org.za

Eco New Year's Resolution

As we start the New Year, make a resolution that you intend to keep for the entire year and beyond: To appreciate, celebrate and care for our precious planet by greening your living. Simple steps you take make a big difference. 

Keep checking this Eco-Corner Blog throughout the year for hints and tips on living more sustainably.

Sustain our Seas

The Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) has successfully turned to technology to help preserve the country's many fish species, with its FishMS service.

The FishMS service informs users of which species are in plentiful supply, endangered or illegal to buy. 

Users can SMS the name of the fish in question to 079 499 8795 and a reply by the service will confirm if the fish is in plentiful supply, endangered or illegal to buy.

Click here to download the SASSI Pocket Guide (PDF)