A green city on the rise, Cape Town is quickly becoming more conscious of its environmental impact. The most recent water crisis has raised its stature from a holiday destination to a lesson for other water-scarce metros on what to do to prevent a looming Day Zero. The following initiatives show the ultimate green city things that Cape Town is getting right.
Eco-tourism: Table Mountain National Park is one of the new 7 wonders of nature and a trip to this flat-topped syncline mountain is always on the to-do list for anyone visiting Cape Town. In addition to hiking, biking, and visiting the golden beaches, visitors and locals alike enjoy Cape Town as a great SCUBA diving spot (if you can handle the colder water). Local dive clubs are always keen to get involved in underwater clean-ups, especially during the South Africa Clean-up and Recycle week in September. The Two Oceans Aquarium, which is a great place to visit when in the V&A Waterfront, has several conservation initiatives that are worth checking out and joining.
Recycling: Although recycling has come a long way in Cape Town, there is still a long way for them to go. Many businesses will pay for recycling companies to collect their precious recyclable materials, while it is costly for homes to join in. Some, but not enough, suburbs have curbside recycling initiatives. An excellent countrywide initiative, which focuses on smaller items, such as bread tags and bottle tops, allows individuals to drop off these items at easily accessible drop-off points. This initiative, called the sweethearts Foundation, is also an excellent demonstration of the countless individuals who volunteer to make the world a better place. The aim of the foundation is to collect enough recyclable material to purchase wheelchairs for underprivileged and disabled individuals.
Going animal-free: Vegetarian and vegan restaurants, although not overly abundant, are increasing in number as more people are becoming aware and adopting a meat-free lifestyle. Previously, the best place to get a good vegetarian meal was your local Indian restaurant; however, these days there is normally a good representation of vegetarian options on a menu. Unfortunately, the vegan lifestyle is more concentrated to restaurants that specialize in vegan food, but hopefully it will get better.
Waste-free: A few supermarkets have bulk options that you can take advantage of. For example, Food Lovers Market has a variety of nuts, flours, seeds, sweets, and mixes that you can dispense yourself. Unfortunately, the idea of bringing your own container, tare weights, and subsequent calculations are a bit too much to ask for, but there is always the option of reusing your bags every time you go. A waste-free store called Nude Foods in the Central Business District (CBD), not only has fresh fruit and veg but also art, reusable tea bags, and a whole range of other waste-free products. They also encourage bringing your own containers.
An article on greening in Cape Town would not be complete without a mention of the water crisis and the means by which all Capetonians are going to prevent becoming the first city to run out of water. Although Day Zero is no longer seen as a threat, the water crisis will take years to subside, and just one year of good rainfall is not enough. Capetonians continue to save water by reusing shower water to flush their toilets, never leaving a tap running, and either covering up or completely doing away with their swimming pools. Hotels, restaurants, and businesses are “water warriors” as well and becoming more conscious of their environmental impact as a whole.
What steps is the city you live in taking to be more environmentally friendly? Are there any community-led initiatives that fill the gap where governments are unable to assist?