So, here are ten easy ways to lower the carbon footprint of your office, school or home:
1. Turn off electrical equipment when not in use. Many appliances, like computer screens and televisions, can be left in 'standby' mode and seem to be off, but are still drawing electricity.
2. Print on both sides! By simply printing on both sides of the paper, a company can cut down its paper use by up to 50%. Go one step further by using recycled paper, or try not printing at all.
3. Choose suppliers who recycle. Empty printer cartridges, old computers, and many other office appliances can be recycled. Make it company policy to only purchase from suppliers who take back and recycle products at the end of their lifespans.
4. Be bright about light. You'll be amazed by how many buildings leave their lights on all night. So make a habit of turning lights off when you leave, and only fit Energy Star-Rated lightbulbs and fixtures -- say 'bye-bye' to incandescent bulbs!
5. Cleaning shouldn't cost the earth. Make sure your office is cleaned using green, biodegradeable products not full of toxic chemicals.
6. Be the drivers of change. When driving, use your hand-break to stop on an incline; relying on clutch control wastes fuel. Carpooling also saves a lot of fuel, and of course cycling is best of all!
7. Don't go, use video! The transport sector accounts for a massive 13% of South Africa's carbon emissions. Play your part in lowering them by using video-conferencing and conference calls.
8. Install a solar geyser. Take advantage of South Africa's excellent renewable energy sources -- and save on electricity bills -- by installing a solar-powered geyser. Also make sure your geysers are well-insulated to better retain heat.
9. Set a goal and stick to it! Challenge your office to reducing the electricity bill by 10% a month, and come up with incentives for achieving the target.
10. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Recycling is definitely the easiest and quickest way a business can be greener. South Africa creates almost 67 million cubic meters of waste a year. Luckily around 80% is fully recyclable and many municipalities already have existing recycling programs.
Old habits aren't easy to change, so the simpler your recycling project is, the more likely it'll succeed. Start out small, focusing on paper recycling initially, and expand with time. In the long-run, create a recycling station, with bins for paper, plastics, organic waste and glass.
>> Download our Recycling Guide for more on how to get started.