Going Green: everything I needed to know I learnt in Rongai

There’s a lot of talk about the environment, green economies, climate change and a lot of horrific predictions for 2055 (and all factors constant, most of us will still be very much alive and very much in control of our mental faculties .) But sometimes I can’t help but feel that we are dealing with all this stuff in a tediously round about way that people like to call ‘digging a hole to fit a ladder to clean the basement windows’.

Especially when I learn about groundbreaking green technology, the game changing benefits of organic products and the transformation of our world, one bag of  fair-trade coffee at a time:  then I remember that I’ve heard it before.

In the republic of Rongai.

Here is my list of mutton dressing up as delicious, tender (and expensive) lamb:

Rainwater harvesting

Did you know that developing urban rainwater harvesting solutions greatly improves the quality of water and volume collected, as well as the applications of said rainwater?


Did you know that one millimeter of rain on one square meter of your roof equals to one liter of water?

Not that one either?

Well, neither did I. But I did know that no tanks meant no water. And that’s how I learnt how to brush my teeth with the tap off.  But just in case you confuse it with peasants trying to be cheap, you can get some stylish, box shaped tanks like this one:



Urban agriculture systems

It’s no secret that people are becoming increasingly disgusted the number of unidentifiable chemicals in food, cruelty to animals and rising food prices. Enter urban agriculture, which is the practice of cultivating crops and keeping animals in urban and peri-urban areas.



Back in the day, we decided to keep rabbits. The line between pets and food was blurry at the best of times, but then they did that rabbit thing where they doubled, tripled and quadrupled until we started worrying about little in-bred monstrosities popping up soon. So, one fine Saturday morning, we transformed all of them into edible goods. And then  had rabbit for what felt like a year to me. Apart from swearing off rabbit meat since then, that is how I understood that a little blood is no reason to feel guilty about not being vegetarian. That’s the cycle of life for you.

Fast-forward into 2012, and my professor is telling me about her pet chicken that lays her organic eggs. I’m glad that the rest of the world has slowly began deciding that there ain’t no shame in growing your tomatoes on the windowsill or having a few chickens in your flat. So long as its called eco.

Reduce, re-use, recycle:

Using old crap that nobody else wants is now okay, because its called being eco-friendly.



Plus you get brownie points for doing something good.

In Rongai it was called ‘we don’t have money for anything else, so suck it in.’

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that more and more people are trying to do good, you know- save the environment by letting their money do the talking. Buying from companies that promise ethical, partially recycled, maybe once artisan products.

I just worry that maybe we are being taken for a bit of a ride, that’s all. (Check out an interesting campaign called Think. Eat. Save if you really want to make a difference.)

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