Constantly immersed in our political problems, we never seem to have any time for climate change issues in Zimbabwe. Climate matters only occur to us as a blur when we are expecting rain and none seems to be on the horizon.
But even as we go about our daily routines with not much said or done about climate change, we blindly help reduce our carbon footprints. Zimbabweans recycle religiously. Poverty has made us innovative.
Old jam jars are re-used to store various foods. Ice cream and yoghurt containers also have an extended shelf life. Go into any Zimbabwean kitchen and you will find a stash of clean, neatly packed bottles, tins or plastic containers that are constantly put to use as pickling jars or for freezing leftovers.
Old plastic bags are used to make candles and floor polish, while old newspapers will find a new lease of life lining cupboards or used for wrapping goods by vegetable vendors. When the vegetables are unwrapped, the paper finds its way into the toilet as loo paper. Severe power cuts have also forced people to use electricity responsibly. At the office we switch off lights and turn of printers and fans as our contribution towards reducing carbon footprints.
We have also started an enthusiastic Greening Team.The team is advocating the use of energy saving light bulbs at both the office and the embassy residences, establishing recycling bins at the office and at home. They also have plans to harvest rain water for irrigating the embassy gardens. There is only one paper recycling company in the country which the team will have to work with. The team is still trying to find partners for recycling bottles, cans, plastic bags and bottles.
Since the move to the new embassy, efforts have been made to plant several trees and savannah style grass. These are little steps that we hope with the buy-in of all staff will grow into something highly significant.