Posts

Eco-Logic Awards – 2018 Entries

It’s that time of year when entries are called for, for the Eco-Logic Awards 2018. You are invited to nominate an eco-champion that you believe is making a positive contribution towards creating an eco-logical society and environment – or nominate your own organisation, product or project under one (or more) of the 13 categories, to name a few,  The Biodiversity Award, The Climate Change Award, The Water Conservation Award and The Municipalities Award.

The Eco-Logic Awards identify individuals, organisations and communities that positively contribute towards a sustainable world – and we encourage consumers to support them by purchasing  their products and services.

The Enviropaedia established the Annual Eco-Logic Awards in 2011 and it has since grown into South Africa’s most glamorously green eco-calendar event, receiving extensive TV, radio, print media and online coverage.

See what past winners have said about how winning this award has furthered their cause to establishing a more sustainable world.

 

For information about the award categories, judging criteria and how to enter go to:
http://www.eco-logicawards.com/enter/

SUPA Wraps – Reusable Food Wraps

A colourful and longer-lasting, zero-waste solution for covering leftovers and dishes, wrapping sandwiches in lunchboxes or covering cheese and butter – just like cling film. Except SUPA Wraps (Single Use Plastic Alternative) are vibrantly printed fabrics infused with locally harvested beeswax.

SUPA was launched after founder, Karoline Hanks, visited Maputaland at the beginning of 2017. She was horrified to find one of the more remote stretches of beach (far from any community or river) strewn with bottle tops and other plastic debris, all of it so evidently from the ocean.

She described a profound and moving close encounter with a Leatherback female turtle laying her eggs. ‘Watching her return to the ocean, I had my heart in mouth, knowing the perils she faced in what is rather quickly becoming a plastic soup – all thanks to us. So what can I do? What can we all do? I asked myself.’

Start at an individual level? Karoline started making her own fresh produce fabric bags at home. ‘I marketed them and the demand grew. I soon realised that I needed to increase production and find others to make them for me!’ Karoline explains. Masiphumelele’s “Work for Love” sewing trainees took up the challenge and have produced well over 2000 bags since they started a few months ago, taking 10% on every bag. The fresh produce bags provide an excellent alternative to the single-use plastic barrier bags provided at fresh produce counters and till points.

The SUPA range will be extending its fresh produce fabric bags and shweshwe fabric wraps, to the “forget-me-not” SUPA pouch, which clips onto a handbag. This is stuffed with three collapsible shoppers and three fresh produce bags. The pouch is permanently clipped to one’s bag, so there is no longer the risk of leaving your reusables at home and finding yourself stranded at the till and obliged to take plastic shopping bags!

SUPA Wraps can purchased at Organic Zone, Faithful to Nature and Sustainable.co.za.  Find out more about SUPA Wraps and Fresh Produce Bags at www.facebook.com/SUPAlternatives.com/

 

Creative Work Hub Embraces Biomimicry – Creating Conditions Conducive for Life

On the East side of Cape Town, on the road parallel to the best coffee shop in the world (Truth) you will find a small building that is attempting something incredibly innovative—turning to nature for solutions to how to properly work and live in harmony. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Melissa Siko, one of the partners on the project with a background in chemical engineering and systems analysis, to learn about all that is going on behind those walls.

75 Harrington Street

Currently, 75 Harrington Street is functioning as a collaborative, creative, co-working environment. Happy people move about the ground floor, grabbing world renowned cappuccinos (for only R 12 – best price in town), typing away behind laptop screens, and engaging in lighthearted meetings. In the floors above them, countless offices boast fun and unique interior design, open spaces, and large windows letting in soothing natural light.

Plants soaking up the sun - 75 Harrington Street, Cape Town

Plants soaking up the sun – 75 Harrington Street, Cape Town

Developed by the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI) and Steven Harris of The Bank, the building is meant to encourage “co-creation” and is ideal for any and all creative businesses, organizations, or startups that prefer an open network and a communal working space. As if this wasn’t interesting enough, 75 Harrington is now making strides to become the go-to example of environmental creativity and resilience and an example of an amazing workspace in its city location.

Sustainable Ideas - 75 Harrington Street, Cape Town

Sustainable Ideas – 75 Harrington Street, Cape Town

The ultimate goal for this colorful and creative space is to create a living example of a fully functional urban ecosystem. Melissa, alongside likeminded creatives and professional engineers, has been working on a 3-floor building model based on the principles of biomimicry—using nature’s intelligence to make human systems more sustainable. The top floor, roof farming, is already showing signs of progress.

Beginnings of a rooftop garden - 75 Harrington Street, Cape Town

Beginnings of a rooftop garden – 75 Harrington Street, Cape Town

Several plant design systems and gardening boxes are already scattered on top of 75 Harrington waiting to be put to good use. The GoPro urban vertical gardening kits even have some leafy greens poking out of their holes and reaching for the sun. Melissa hopes that this space will encourage members of the community to come together and grow their own plants and food. The first floor of the building will then become a food market, where farmers can come and sell their locally-grown produce together rather than being in constant competition. In between these two levels will be a floor dedicated to community education, where meetings and workshops on topics such as urban agriculture can be held to further the sustainability initiative.

Biomimicry Basics - 75 Harrington Street, Cape Town

Biomimicry Basics – 75 Harrington Street, Cape Town

The main principles for this biomimicry project (as detailed above) include evolving to survive, being resource and energy efficient, adapting to changing conditions, integrating development with growth, being locally attuned and responsive, and using life-friendly chemistry. By following these guidelines, Melissa hopes 75 Harrington Street will become more than just a creative workspace—it will be an environment where people can come together and participate in reinventing our current way of living so that are we are more in tune and adapted to life on earth.

It was a pleasure to see these creative ideas being put into action and I wish the best of luck to everyone involved! A special thanks goes out to Melissa for all of her insight into the project. If you are ever in town, I recommend grabbing a coffee there and seeing the space for yourself!

If you want to learn more about biomimicry, check out Melissa Baird’s recent post on the future of engineering.

Earthbound Wine Giveaway: Cheers to a Sustainable Future!

Two lucky readers each have a chance to win a mixed case of Earthbound organic wines. That’s a great way to start the holiday season!

Earthbound wines are organically grown with Fairtrade principles out in the Papkuilsfontein Vineyards in Darling. The brand is transforming the current methods of wine farming, farm management, winemaking, and wine marketing, in order to promote sustainable practices and be mindful of what we produce and put back into the earth. So you can pour yourself a glass, and feel good doing it! Visit their website for more information about their practices and their delicious range of wines.

Earthbound Pinotage 2013

 

Earthbound - Chenin NV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For your chance to win, please send an email to melissa@lifeinbalance.co.za with the email header: Earthbound Wine Giveaway. Please note only one entry per email address. Winners are selected via a lucky draw and your names are not shared other than to award the prize winner(s) their prize. Entries close on the 15th November 2015 and winners will be contacted via email. Good luck!

The Wonders of This Bag

If you haven’t heard already, there is a new fireless slow cooker that is doing more than just providing scrumptious food—it is changing the world, one meal at a time. Sarah Collins has taken a traditional cooking method and transformed it to help improve the health and quality of life of families throughout Africa and across the globe. The “Wonderbag” is a revolutionary slow cooker that is both portable and does not require any electricity. Simply bring your food to a boil, place it in the bag, slow cook it, and serve! Keep reading to learn more about how this wonderful bag is combating the health, social, economic, and environmental problems that Africa is currently facing.

Wonderbag Process

By Grethe Mattheus

Most of us know the beautiful design and numerous everyday benefits of the Wonderbag, but few people really grasp how far the ripple effect from this non-electric, portable, slow cooker stretches. The story of Sarah Collins and her drive for sustainable impact is not only a proudly South African entrepreneurial success story, but one that truly shows the power of connecting hearts and homes around the world.

Sarah’s original inspiration came from the memories of her grandmother’s economical cooking methods and her deep connection with African women. Years later, and on their way to 100 million Wonderbags sold worldwide, her entrepreneurial upbringing and strong focus on building relationship with local communities, has proven the perfect synergy for a brand that is recognised from the midlands of Natal to the hallways of the United Nations.

In a middle-class existence it is easy to forget about the alarming fact that 3 billion women around the world still cook over an open fire each day and face the danger of death caused by smoke inhalation. Statistics show that over 4 million people die from this cause and 50% of these premature deaths are children under five. The simple act of preparing a meal in a developing country has huge challenges for many. Often low-income households use firewood for fuel to cook food and this not only results in deforestation, but many hours often spent by women looking for wood. These are hours that take girls out of school and mothers away from caring for their children. How amazing that, as Sarah states, “the oldest technology in the world” can contribute towards a solution for this problem and bring an innovative answer to rural and urban communities alike. Whether reducing smoke from an open fire or carbon emissions from a suburban household, this ShweShwe bag proves that innovation is not always new.

Building a sustainable social enterprise not only requires a value creating product, but also creative means to reach the target market. Through personal experience and relationships with rural communities, Wonderbag is maximising its impact by constantly finding new ways to get their product into the hands of the people who need it most. For this purpose the Wonderbag Foundation has built a model that focuses on empowering and educating communities through partnership organisations, activations and monitoring & follow-up programmes. This ensures wide distribution, deep impact and real transformation. The Wonderbag Journey forms a community of hope around the globe, starting with Wonderbag donations to The Wonderbag Foundation, linked to online purchases from all over the world. The Foundation ventures out on giving trips and distributes the bags through partner community relationships in Africa. There, families are trained on how to use the bag and are empowered to understand the health and environmental benefits of using the bag. The Foundation also monitors health results through local clinics. One of the best parts of this positive impact cycle is that the time saved by women using Wonderbags are used to train these women to develop skills that will contribute to building a stronger social and economic climate in their community. For every one of these families in the developing world that uses a Wonderbag the positive impact can be quantified and measured. Every bag used saves 1.7 trees, slowing deforestation rates; saves 1000 liters of water per year; saves 1248 hours spent collecting firewood per year and reduces up to 1 ton of carbon emissions.

To put the cherry on top, this organisation with an international footprint, still sources all their raw materials from South African companies and the product is thus truly 100% locally made. Wonderbag is an inspirational example of a holistic approach to addressing a social and environmental need and a testimony of change agents building a better South Africa through passion and innovation.

For more information visit: wonderbagworld.com or wonderbagfoundation.org

 

A Permaculture Perspective

Curious about permaculture or just hearing about it for the first time? Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective (2015) is an amazing new film that will teach you all about this design process and how it can transform our world and heal our systems into abundance. Watch it at Inhabit Film or Films for Action now.

Rocking the Daisies 10th Anniversary

“Play Hard, Tread Lightly”

Rocking the Daisies 2015 literally rocked me, physically and mentally. And it’s not just because I attended with a bad case of the flu or crammed into a two-person tent with three people and a backpack as a pillow. No—the music and energy that permeated the festival grounds for the three days I camped out in the grass was both palpable and contagious.

I began my journey to Daisies when I first heard about their reputation as a “green” festival—one that is entirely committed to good music and good times, while also being mindful of our impact on the earth. Their mission statement reads, “We aim to host a premier music and lifestyle festival in an environmentally and social responsible manner under the motto of play hard, tread lightly.” This, alongside RTD’s slew of environmental awards, highly informative environmental audit and impact assessment, social initiatives, and environmental partners, was more than enough to convince me to come and jam to some incredible bands. So I got online and booked a ticket (where I was pretty much told that not showering for the duration of the festival was socially and environmentally responsible—score, an excuse to be dirty!) and jumped in an Uber with four new friends, some camping gear, and far too many snacks.

We drove an hour and a half to Darling through miles and miles of open countryside and vineyards, spotting the occasional cow, horse, sheep, ostrich, and flamingo that kept my mind off the fact that my knees were squished up to my chest. From all the shouting and pointing I did, my friends might tell you that I was more excited about the roadside animals than anything else at the festival. But of course there were so many sites and sounds to appreciate!

RTD Gate

When we finally made it to the Daisies gate, friendly staff reminded us that there is absolutely no glass permitted at the site whatsoever, so that cheap bottle of wine in your pack would likely be confiscated upon entry—boxed is the way to go! This was especially nice since it made it safe for me to walk around the festival barefoot when my black leather boots turned gray from all the sand and dirt.

After navigating the queue of hundreds of excited festival goers, we set up our home for the next three days amidst tents of all sizes, shapes, and colors. Everyone around us was eager to introduce themselves and share the Daisies experience with their campsite neighbors and friends. Almost immediately I noticed the cleanliness of the campgrounds, as it was already one day into the four-day event. Waste disposal sites were common and scattered throughout the area with bins clearly and brightly labeled “Paper,” “Plastic,” “Cans,” “Other.” This made it extremely easy and convenient for everyone to pick up after themselves and even recycle! I also frequently spotted festival staff dragging massive cloth bags filled with trash through the grounds for proper disposal.

It was obvious that RTD was not all talk—they were making a real effort to be sustainable. They even had a sign posted in each porta potty describing how, “[Water conservation] is one of the most critical environmental global issues,” and ensuring that RTD’s water supplier “meets all environmental criteria set out with regards to production processes and locality of production.” It is no wonder that they won the Eco-Logic Award for Climate Change in 2011 and the Climate Change Leadership Award in both 2009 and 2010. For those of us making an effort not to purchase plastic water bottles, there were free water stations all throughout the festival site as well where you could fill up and re-hydrate.

On Saturday I had the chance to hang out and chat with December Streets’ Tristan Coetzee and get his opinion about these and more of Daisies’ sustainability efforts:

“Being a regular performer at most of South Africa’s music festivals, I’ve had the opportunity to witness the impact festivals with the capacity of 20,000+ attendees can have on the environment and its surroundings. RTD is truly in a class of its own when it comes to sustainability and its implementation into music festivals. What really impresses me is the initiative to educate from a creative and interactive perspective that allows festival goers the opportunity to realize their direct individual and group impact. Being immersed in drives such as collecting cigarette buds in exchange for a drink, walking to the festival, and preferential parking for eco-conscious actions like carpooling or cycling to the festival all contribute to bettering the understanding of the ‘green’ initiative RTD drives. And I think it’s bloody brilliant. By the end of the festival I can physically see how much better of a state the grounds are left in compared to others.”

RTD

All of these small but influential additions to RTD made it that much easier to enjoy myself there. As Tristan mentioned, they even offered incentives such as a free shot of alcohol in exchange for a full bag of trash (for those of you really looking to enjoy yourselves) alongside re-usable beer and wine cups that were for sale at the bars. They also had a place called “The Green Village,” with various speaker presentations and workshops, environmentally-conscious vendors, and clothing donations. As someone who is hyper-aware of humankind’s effects on nature and wildlife, I could dance barefoot in the sun at RTD with complete peace of mind knowing that they are equally as aware and taking every precaution to reduce the festival’s own impact.

My time at Rocking the Daisies came to a close on the shoulders of a brand new friend, screaming to The Kooks’ “Naïve,” a band I haven’t seen since I was 16 years old. It was truly a magical experience and one that I will find hard to forget, despite not having many pictures to commemorate it. I woke up in a dewy tent early Sunday, packed up my things, recycled the last few bottles and cans I could find strewn about the silent tents, and headed back out on another, this time much-needed, calming drive through the countryside. So if you are looking to hear some fantastic music, party with some friends, or just experience festival culture, all the while promoting sustainable practices and protecting the earth, next year’s Rocking the Daisies is an event I would not miss.

Read more about Rocking the Daisies and their greening initiatives, such as their Tickets for Trees Campaign with Greenpop or their Green Village complete with solar powered Hemp stage, here.

See some of these green initiatives in action in last year’s official aftermovie below (approximately 4 minutes in):