21 Households Project (2000 -2001)

An Agenda Transfer Project from Aachen to Cape Town

The Aachen Story

21_households_02During 2000 the Agenda office of the City of Aachen initiated the project „21 Haushalte (er)leben Agenda” (21 Households). Within 6 months (June to December) the households could learn, under professional guidance, how to live a more sustainable lifestyle at a household level. Every month a different theme was focussed on. These included: consumer patterns, economy and finances, leisure and mobility, gardening and environmental protection, social wellbeing and togetherness, as well as energy. The issues were conveyed in excursions, meetings, workshops and mostly learning by doing. The project was supported by various partners such as the ASEAG who sponsored tickets for the public busses, the so called Bioläden who sponsored the ‘weekly green bag’ distributing eco-food and so on.

The Cape Town Story

21_households_03This North-Rhein-Westfalian project (which was rolled-out simultaneously in 21 cities across the Province of North- Rhein-Westphalia) was transferred and adapted to the conditions in South Africa during 2001. Twenty-one households from three different social classes and residential areas (seven households from Khayelitsha, Manenberg and Wynberg respectively) were asked to participate in the Cape Town based project. As in the north, here the main aim of the project was also to illustrate sustainability in a practical way at a household level.

21_households_01Each month a different theme was focussed on and each theme consisted of a workshop and an excursion for the participating households. The themes covered in the workshops helped to illustrate the importance at a practical level within their homes, and the excursions highlighted the importance of their actions within their communities. For example the topic “energy use” was workshopped very practically through a comparison between an “environmentally friendly house” and an ordinary house without any energy efficiency features, whereas “waste and recycling” was covered in their excursion to a landfill site and a plastic recycling company.

The project was implemented very successfully and also included an audit of the households before and after the project to enable a full impact assessment. A project evaluation was also done.

This project proved catalytic in changing the way the City of Cape Town implements environmental education on sustainability issues and it has given rise to the City’s Smart Living Campaign: