We have the power to promote sustainable practices in consumer businesses. We should always look for labels that indicate that a product is sustainably produced and environmentally friendly. If eco-labelled goods are not available, ask for them. Good businesses listen to their customers. But be wary of “green-washing” in which unsubstantiated claims are made about the environmental friendliness of products.
Make the ‘green’ choice and choose locally produced products over products imported from other parts of the country or from other countries. The ‘carbon miles’ incurred in transporting the goods are extremely costly in terms of wasted energy, pollution and climate change. Look out for the “GreenChoice” label. GreenChoice promotes wise resource use throughout the food supply chain. Locally-owned businesses are more likely to source their products form local producers than ‘chain stores’ and money spent at these stores stays in the community and is not siphoned off to a ‘head office’ elsewhere.
When buying wine look out for the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative label. The label, which features a sugar bird on a protea, serves to identify and endorse wines that have been produced in accordance with BWI’s conservation requirements. Nearly 95 % of the country’s wine-growing takes place in the Cape Floral Kingdom (CFK), the richest and also the smallest plant kingdom on the lanet. Recognised both as a global biodiversity hotspot and a World Heritage site, it has come under increasing threat from agriculture, urban development and invasive alien species.
In 2004, faced with just 4% of the CFK’s unique renosterveld remaining and much of its lowland fynbos ecosystems under threat, the wine industry developed a conservation partnership with the Botanical Society of South Africa, Conservation International and The Green Trust, which led to the establishment of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI). Its mandate is not only confined to protecting natural habitat. It also encourages wine producers to farm sustainably and express the advantages of the Cape’s abundant diversity in their wines.
Only buy seafood from SASSI’s green list. No matter what role you play in the seafood supply chain, you can make a difference! From the fishermen out on the water right through to consumers buying seafood in their local restaurants and retailers, we can all play our part and get involved in creating a sustainable seafood industry.
Consult the SASSI pocket guide or make use of the Sassi FishMS (sms your fish query to 079 499 8795) to find out which seafood is the responsible choice!
Most honey produced in SA is now “badger-friendly”, but look out for the badger-friendly label, and if you’re unsure ask the retailer.
Buy fresh, loose fruit and vegetables if possible. Even better, grow your own vegetables.
Meat is not so neat
Reducing the amount of meat we eat is the most sustainable food choice we can make. We need to remember that meat-eating carries a giant water footprint. It takes 13 million litres of water to raise and convert one cow or ox into meat! To produce one portion of beef (250g) requires the same amount of drinking water that one person needs (at one litre a day) for 34 years of life! Sustainable livestock production is critical to the future of grasslands biodiversity and the South African livestock industry. If we do buy meat, we should insist on meat from farmers who have good practices in terms of managing the land, use of pesticides and how they deal with predators.
Less is more
Buying less is more – more sustainable. We should buy only what we need and serve only what we can (or should) eat – excess will simply be thrown away or worse, turn into fat.
Choose eco-friendly, biodegradable cleaning products. These are cheaper and have fewer negative impacts on the soil and water systems. Bicarbonate of soda and vinegar are excellent eco-friendly cleaning products.
Buy energy-efficient appliances
When buying a washing machine, refrigerator, dishwasher or oven, we should try to buy the most eco-friendly and energy-efficient model we can afford. They might be a little more expensive but they pay for themselves through lower energy bills. The same is true for office equipment like computers, copiers and printers.
Don’t pay for unnecessary packaging. It is literally throwing money away – and remember, there is no ‘away’.