What I would do with R10,000 if I had to spend it on reducing my carbon footprint?
Well, the first thing I would do is spend a few months thinking about various possibilities and delaying making my choice about what to do to the last minute. In fact, that’s exactly what I did when I found out I had this amazing opportunity to spend R10,000 on reducing my carbon footprint. For someone who is really committed to treading lightly on the planet, and like most people could use a little financial incentive to do so, this was a surprisingly difficult decision. I discussed options with my wife (who is 8 months pregnant as I write), and we considered a range of options:
- Selling one of our cars and buying a scooter? Then again I use my bicycle to commute most days, so the second car isn’t worth much, and we’re expecting a baby soon, so thought a scooter wouldn’t be that useful.
- Solar Water heater? Tick. We already have one (great wedding gift from a bunch of our wedding guests).
- Gas stove? Really lovely idea, and perhaps one day, but we already have a good electric one in great working order.
- Grey/water system, or rain collection tank? Easy answer, we only have a tiny courtyard garden that wouldn’t make the endeavor worthwhile.
- Ceiling insulation to keep our home cool in summer, warm in winter? Unfortunately our ceiling is inaccessible for installation of insulation material in most of the house.
- Running part of our electric requirements on solar PV or wind? R10,000 probably insufficient, and probably not worth the hassle, or sufficient pay-back just yet.
While we were considering all these options, Winter made a sudden and stark arrival, and the deadline for the opportunity was looming. Along with the cold weather, the obvious answer to our conundrum presented itself loud and clear: a fireplace that we could run on wood derived from invasive plant species! To prolong the investigation and delay the choice even further (some would say we were just being conscientious), we then had to decide what type of fireplace to go for. I asked around about efficiencies of wood fireplaces, and the various makes, and soon realized that there is not a great deal of useful comparative information about the various options: built-in, ceramic, cast-iron, sheet metal-with-door, etc. After asking around and making a choice on aesthetics and on the cleanest burn, we opted for an Earthfire Mexican-style ceramic pots. And was it good choice? The answer is an absolute and resounding yes!
After all that careful deliberation, we have turned our cold 19th century, thick-walled and tiled-floor cottage into a warm and cozy winter hideaway, and in summer we have a beautiful raku-fired ceramic pot that decorates our lounge. After a few nights snuggled up together in front of our new acquisition, we are not only ready for our imminent addition to our family, but we have created a home that we actually enjoy being in during winter. And we’re avoiding our dependence on grid electricity and cutting our electricity bill, reducing our carbon footprint, and saving precious water from being consumed by thirsty Bluegums and Rooikrantz trees.
Stephen Davis, Behaviour change researcher