Marine hero

Five swims in Antarctica.. 1 Reason campaigning for the establishment of Marine Protected Areas

Lht_lewis_pugh_antarctica_swim_02_jc_150310_4x3_992ewis Pugh continues to rock records and draw attention to the fragile marine eco-system that are being ravaged by over-fishing, oil prospecting and man-caused oil disasters,  rising ocean temperatures and climate change. His latest super-human achievement was to complete five swims in the Ross Sea that was once home to thousands of Antarctic blue whales but now only 3% of the original population survive. He is Patron of the Oceans and in this mission to raise awareness of the need to create Marine Protected Areas has found an audience in Russia who are key decision makers in this process.

In the land of Antarctica, making use of Shackleton’s early base Lewis has swum the five seas of Campbell Island, Cape Adare, Bay of Whales ( you cannot swim any further south on the map)    Peter 1 Island ( in the Bellingshausen Sea and one of the remotest islands on the planet) .to have the Ross Marine sea declared a marine protected area.

In formidable conditions, Lewis broke the World Record by completing his swim in -1.7 degrees C water – the coldest seawater can be before it freezes – Pugh-Black-Sea-Webwith no insulation other than a swimming costume. Why would he do such a thing? In his own words “The Ross Sea is a place I care deeply about. It’s the most pristine ecosystem left on our Earth, with wildlife found nowhere else, and of vital importance to science. But it’s now being destroyed by industrial fishing.Our generation is driving species to extinction, irreversibly altering ecosystems and leaving our children with a planet that is unsustainable. We can change that.Please urge the 25 CCAMLR nations, responsible for protecting Antarctica’s ocean, to set aside the Ross Sea as a Marine Protected Area forever.”

The organisation responsible for creating MPAs in the region is the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which is currently chaired by Russia. Lewis is asking the general public to show their support for the cause on Twitter using the hashtag #5swims and help him to raise awareness to protect this site before it is too late.

Follow: @LewisPugh


 Water – water everywhere but how much left to drink?

water World Water Day

World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The international day of awareness began in 1993 and is meant to unite the world in its action in how to conserve and recycle water as the world’s population increases and demands for fresh water escalate.

AS one of the largest cities in the world, Sao Paolo in Brazil ( population over 20 million people)  is currently grappling with a crippling water crises it is making people pay much more attention to water and how it matters in everyday life. That sounds ridiculous to say but there is very little connection between the water that comes out of a tap  (if you are lucky) and the water systems that feed municipal systems. The rivers and lakes and wetlands that perform vital functions in water storage and water purification are constantly under strain and many are at breaking point in this country.water 3

Drought and mushrooming development and pollution has led to Sao Paolo’s water emergency. In South Africa we have seen social unrest leading to deaths of protestors because of lack of water. Imagine a city of 20 million residents fighting for water? No, don’t. During this crises their water supply was being cut off between 1 pm and 7am every day and on 7th March hundreds of thousands of residents marched through the streets demanding their government take action.

InWorld-Water-Day-2015Walkthon-for-water-2015-smaatindia South Africa we have time to sort out our water issues. But not much and this is where as a citizen you can do your very best to recycle and install grey water systems, have a rain water tank and use your water with care and consideration. It is everyone’s ‘problem’ and like our energy grid showing how we need to work together, the impending water crises will require smart local municipal decision makers who can make choices about using water technology and waste water treatment technology that prevents raw sewage from entering our rivers and the continued destruction of wetlands in favour of development. Wetlands are capable of purifying water before it enters the sea and lakes and should be treated with utmost care. But there are a lot of ‘shoulds’ and not enough ‘have-dones’ in this debate. I’ll write about wetlands on the next issue and take you on a journey of their roll in water purification.

The United Arab Emirates is now investing in desalination plants and waste water treatment units because it lacks fresh water. As crown prince General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan admitted: “For us, water is [now] more important than oil.”

( The Guardian March 8 2015)

water 2


Vertical farms


Last month we looked at vertical indoor gardens that functioned on hydroponic systems and just a few days after the last newsletter was sent out I came across an amazing story about a company that has invested in vertical gardening on a mass scale. Situated in Newark, the biggest city in New Jersey, a dynamic company named Aerofarms has partnered with property management firm RBH Group and other investors in order to pilot the first phase of a farming project that aims to grow large amounts of crops using the principles of aeroponics.technical-diagram

Housed in a converted steel factory, this farm is straight out of the future. The urban vertical farm will use AeroFarms’ innovative aeroponics technology that grows soil-free plants by spraying a mist of high-nutrient solution onto the crops. Instead of soil, the plants take root in a permeable micro fleece cloth stretched across modular and stackable planters. The  process uses recycled water, zero pesticides, zero fertilizers, and takes up less space and resources than traditional farming.

If this project turns out the way investors hope it will, this could change the face of farming and offer some sound solutions for food security.

Article courtesy from:\

Moments of wonder: Joe the gardener

If ever we feel that today has been a particularly average day, and that things are not going the way we had hoped or planned, it is important to step out of one’s shoes and into another’s in order to regain perspective. These shoes can belong to our friends, random strangers in the street or an icon or celebrity, or Joe the ‘guerrilla’ gardener. The inspiration this man gave to me after watching his video on YouTube  lasted much longer than the video itself which is why I want to share it with you. Meet Joe the gardener; a humble, generous man who’s life’s mission is to make a difference:

Video courtesy of:

Vegan hot cross buns

Nostalgic feelings for warm summer days as the cold starts to set in can be satisfied with a delicious traditional Easter treat that ticks all the boxes for the vegans.

Follow this simple recipe:VeganHotCross-Buns-Vegsoc

  • 350g plain flour
  • 5ml ground mixed spice
  • 5ml ground cinnamon
  • 5ml grated nutmeg
  • 1 sachet easy-blend yeast
  • 25g castor sugar
  • 75g currants
  • 25g mixed peel (orange, lemon, lime), chopped
  • Rind of one lemon, finely grated
  • 75g coconut oil
  • 175ml/ (approx) soya milk, warmed

hot-cross-bunsFor the crosses:

  • 50g plain flour
  • 25g coconut oil
  • Water

For the glaze:

  • 25g sugar
  • 30ml water


  1. In a large bowl mix the flour, spices, yeast, sugar, currants, mixed peel and lemon rind. Make a well in the centre and add the melted coconut oil and some of the warmed soya milk. Mix until a soft dough is formed, adding more milk if necessary.
  2. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 mins. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, which will take about 1 -2 hrs.
  3. Meanwhile to make the crosses, rub the coconut oil into the flour and add enough water to bind. Roll out the pastry quite thinly then cut into thin strips.
  4. Once the dough has doubled in size, knock it down and knead for 5 mins. Divide into 12 pieces, roll each piece into a ball and leave on a greased baking tray. Leave to rise again for about 30 mins.
  5. To make the glaze heat the water and sugar in a pan until the sugar dissolves.
  6. Leave to cool. Glaze each bun and top with pastry crosses.
  7. Bake at 180°C/350°F/gas 4 for about 20 mins or until golden.



Original recipe courtesy from:

South Africa ranked most sustainable tourist destination

By Jess Handley

Tuesday the 24th of March was a hard day for SoutSA h African cricket fans. After coming so close yet again to winning a Cricket World Cup, the chance to be world champions just slipped through the grasp of the  Proteas once again. However what was lost in the cricket is made up for in tourism and news is Mzanzi is a champion in terms of sustainable tourism.

South Africa won WWF’s earth hour capital challenge last year and this year has outranked the USA in terms of sustainable tourism hot spots.  Responsible Travel, a website dedicated to advocating sustainable and responsible travel throughout the world has published the first league table of tourist boards, and South Africa has gained a top spot alongside Bhutan, Sweden and England. The countries were graded by their tourism boards’ commitment to responsible tourism, as outlined on their websites, and asked whether more should be done to ensure tax payers’ money is being used to touristspromote local over global initiatives.

The national tourist board websites of Responsible Travel’s top 50 selling countries were examined and six questions were asked, relating to tourists boards’ vision, policies and activity in responsible tourism. Some of the questions involved in order to determine a country’s rank related to their policies, responsibility and vision related to environmental and social policies.

Original article courtesy of:

Be Fair

During Fairimage004 - Copy Trade Fortnight ( 30March – 12 April 2015)  South Africans can choose from a selection of FairTrade products that aim to seek justice wimage002 - Copyith a chocolate bar, right wrongs with a glass of wine and change the world on their coffee break. The campaign’s theme, THE POWER OF YOU, aims to inspire the new generation of leaders and decision-makers to activate the immense power they have as consumers by choosing the products that are making a stand for social justice and offering alternatives to the exploitation of small scale farmers and the land.

By choosing Fairtrade wine you have the power to increase the opportunities for farm workers and their kids in the Cape Winelands. By choosing a bar of Fairtrade chocolate you have the power to fight child labour in cocoa farms in West Africa. By choosing Fairtrade coffee or tea, you have the power to incentivise small-scale farmers in Africa in improving the quality of their coffee and in using the land sustainably.

Visit the Fairtrade stand at the Taste of Cape Town between 10-12 April where you can taste a wide variety of the products that make a difference. For a list of Fairtrade products available in South Africa visit - Copy

The land of ice and fire

By Jess Handley

glaciers-in-iceland-1When one thinks of some of the coldest places on earth, Antarctica or the North Pole are usually what spring to mind. Popular perception is that Iceland is also pretty cold but there are places that are much colder like Ushuaia in Argentina, (the most Southern tip of land before one hits Antarctica). But it’s Iceland that gives back whatever it is lacking in temperature  in terms of breathtaking, awe-inspiring natural wonders the world has to offer.

The Land of Ice and Fire (as Iceland is often called)is a country of extreme contrasts and is home to some of the largest glaciers in EuReykjavik-Icelandrope, and some of the world’s most active volcanoes. Long summer days with near 24-hours of sunshine are offset by short winter days that only have a fe w hours of daylight. One can traverse the moss covered lava fields in the southwest right through to the barren highlands in the centre, to the soaring fjords in the northwest. A drive around will bring you face-to- face with the great diverse landscape, that  changes with every turn in the road and every season.
The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik (pronounced “ray-kea-vick”) is a kaleidoscope of various offerings for culture vultures, adrenaline junkies and hip tourists alike. With a population of around 120,000 (and over 200,000 in the capital), it is the heart of Icelandic culture and government. Although much of the city’s population are of Polish and Lithuanian decent, there is a heavy sense of nationalism entrenched among the people of Reykjavik after a nationalist movement gained traction at the beginning of the 19th century.Iceland, land of culture, natural wonders and boundless beauty  is an unusual and unique destination and rumour has it  also holds the secret to the journey to the centre of the earth.

iceland1For more information and travel tips about Iceland, please visit: or