by Tribute J. Mboweni (Co-Founder: Projekt 23 – The Green Movement)
I am proudly South African. Whenever I say this, people ask where it comes from. The answer is simple. I am proud of the cultural and natural diversity (biodiversity) that we have in this country. South Africa has 11 official languages, with which comes a lot of interesting interactions. It is also the third most bio diverse country in the world after Brazil and Malaysia. All of this is within the South African borders. Great as it may be, there are all sorts of challenges experienced within all of that. For one, we often have challenges understanding each other because of how different we are culturally. In the end, however, we exist within the same environment, which means that, as different as we may be, we have one thing in common: a rich environment on which we all depend.
What is biodiversity? In the simplest term, it is the variety of life forms within an area; that is, animals, plants, and everything else found in a natural system (genes, species etc). But what is the big deal here? Why should you care what biodiversity is? The big deal here is that we all depend on biodiversity – natural resources- to get on with life. Take a few seconds to think about it. You woke up today, walked to the bathroom to freshen up and brush your teeth because you would not have that cup of coffee unless you had done so. With that cup of coffee, you had bread, eggs and whatever else you had it with. All these are made of natural resources. The oxygen that keeps you alive, is a natural gas. I can go on and on. Now, if we all depend so much on the environment, consciously and unconsciously, why have we tasked a select few with taking care of the environment when we all can and should rightfully be environmentally conscious? Do we not trust ourselves to do a good job in taking care of our environment, nor do we simply not care enough? If this is a trust issue, let’s work on building that trust by empowering ourselves with the knowledge to enable us to have a positive impact towards our surroundings. And if this is an issue of not caring, then how can we exist within an environment which takes care of us and the people we care about and simply not care?
How does one demonstrate that they care about their environment? Simple. Treat the environment as your house. The same way you would put out a fire that starts in your house; the same way you live in a clean house; apply the same principles to the general environment. Pick up that stray paper. Make sure that the tap is closed properly so as to not waste water, which is actually a very scarce resource in South Africa. Walk to places which you can get to without having to drive. Be energy-wise; if you are not charging your phone, take that charger off the plug. The truth of the matter is, whether we realise this or not, when we take care of our environment, we are, in one way or another, taking care of our health. This is as real as me cycling to work/campus. By cycling, I reduce my contribution towards the carbon in the atmosphere, while I get my exercise and I spend absolutely nothing on transport. This is a typical greenie move, some have said. And yes, I am a cheap skate; an environmentally conscious and fairly healthy cheap skate.
Green is not just a colour, it is a state of mind. With that said, I would like for us to get to a point where we all live each day, fully aware of the environment and our impact on it, whether negative or positive. When we live in this consciousness, our actions will be just as conscious. Everyone can be a part of this movement; a movement that cares.