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Eat, drink and be… worried! July 18, 2007

Posted by Andreas in Cape Town, Climate change, Environment, Global warming, Society, South Africa, Sustainable Living.

The following was part of a story I wrote for The Big Issue this month. Obviously the numbers are all estimates, but they’re a good indication of what’s happening in reality.

If you haven’t bought The Big Issue yet this month, why not do so on your way home today? Not because you feel obliged to, but because it’s actually a good read and it’s still one of the most progressive publications in the country. Also, half of the price (R6 of R12) goes directly to the vendor who needs it a lot more than you do…

The average citizen of Cape Town consumes about:

300 litres of water a day (think two bathtubs every day and over 110 000 Olympic swimming pools for the entire city every year),

● 1.2 kg of food a day (think 2 Big Macs for breakfast, lunch and supper),

● 383 kg of oil a year (think over 5 supertankers for the city every year),

● 130 kg of paper a year (think more than 50 reams of paper every year),

● 200 kg of cement a year (think more than 4 million wheelbarrows for the whole city every year), and

● 75 kg of plastic a year (think 100 plastic teaspoons every day).

The average citizen of Cape Town generates about:

● 900 kg of solid waste a year (think a full plastic shopping bag every day), and

● 180 kg of liquid waste a day (think the weight of your typical sumo wrestler every day).

Averages are misleading, however. The third of the city’s population that falls into the high-income category consumes by far the largest amounts of electricity, water and petrol, while they produce more than half of the residential solid waste that is rapidly filling municipal waste disposal sites.

Over 20% of Cape Town’s annual fresh water budget is consumed by suburban gardens and swimming pools. High-income Capetonians use almost twice as much water as their low-income neighbours and generate more than three times as much solid rubbish every day.

(Sources: M. Swilling and B. Gasson)


1. Grace Maxins - August 23, 2007

I am outraged at the needs of the people living in Cape Town. Being an expact who lived in many different countries, I have seen many places where water was a luxury, or went to places where the people were poor but environmentally conscious.
My interpretation of the facts just read is that the people living this life style are either ignorants or are seriously trying their very best to make this planet filthy as soon as possible.
When you live this way, don’t you think of the future, or of your children’s future. Being environmentally conscious is not about having a restricted life, it’s about living in respect for your surrounding and trying to ensure the future of your children.

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