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A journey to lower carbon lifestyle

kate
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kate

Kate Bezuidenhout is an environmental consultant with 10 years experience in the construction, mining and renewable energy sectors. She enjoys gardening, walking her dog (Molly) and riding her mountain bike around Johannesburg.
kate
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Why do companies measure their carbon footprint? Why do they offset their emissions? Why do individuals make big decisions to curb emissions and ensure processes are more efficient? One reason is that we are in a good space to do this; the effects of climate change are upon us and business has realised the benefit of going carbon neutral. We’re on the precipice of changing the course of history, a “perfect storm” if you will; the right time for business to co-exist harmoniously with the natural resource constraints that the Club of Rome drew our attention to in 1972.

Like any transitional period in history, there are forces pushing and pulling us. At this current time, there are two forces pushing us to reduce our impact on the environment: economic instability and climate change. The third force which is pulling us is the desire for a more meaningful life, to live more simply, consume less and declutter our lives. This third force is what drew me into a new lifestyle last year. I experienced a time of dematerialisation, simplification and reflection. For me, not having a job was a big fear of mine, but after quitting my job to discover what I wanted to do with my life was hugely freeing and empowering. It is a luxury to be able to press “pause” and figure about what matters to me most, but the benefits have been overwhelming.

The health and social benefits of my journey were realised first: putting my relationships first, putting my health first; followed by environmental benefits: less time in traffic, tending to my garden and attempting to grow vegetables.

My journey to a simpler life required me to restrain my consumption and spending, initially due to financial constraints and then later because I realised I didn’t need all this stuff. I didn’t need new make-up, hair appointments, manicures and new clothes. I needed peace, reflection and doing what made me happy. I planted trees, tended to food gardens, volunteered at nature reserves, fed and cared for sick and injured wild animals. I now do things slower, with more focus and am letting go of all the unnecessary things in my life.

By writing this blog as the Programme Manager, the Carbon Protocol of South Africa, has encouraged me to document my own low carbon journey and reinforced my values to living with less.

 

1. Muilerman, H.  & Blonk, H. Towards a sustainable use of natural resources. Stichting Natuur en Milieu (2001)  Located at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/enveco/waste/pdf/muilerman.pdf
2. Adapted from a blog by Carol Ann Preibis. Located at www.ahhthesimplelife.com