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Nature Conservation

  • Water, Water Everywhere but not a Drop to Spare

    With 2016 experiencing the lowest rainfall recorded in South African history and water restrictions implemented nationwide, it is no wonder that there is a growing number of people concerned about the future of our most precious commodity - water.

    At Sustainable.co.za, we have turned our focus to providing the latest and most affordable options to save water in your own home. We also have a few tricks up our sleeve for those who are not in a position to buy the goods but still want to be a part of the solution.

    First and foremost, you must try to reuse water at home, this can be done in the following ways:

    • * Endeavour to buy eco-friendly detergents and soaps so that the water is safe for your garden.
    • * Put a small amount of water in your bathroom basin so people can use this to wash their hands.
    • * Shower for 5 minutes or less.
    • * Leave a bucket in the shower and cover the drain with it so that it collects the excess water.
    • * Switch off the shower when washing your hair or body.
    • * Fill the kitchen sink with water in the morning and reuse to wash dishes. If it gets cold, take some of it out with a jug and boil it.
    • * Try not to flush the toilet too often - if it is yellow, let it mellow (maximum of three uses), if it is brown, flush it down.
    • * At the end of the day, the water from the shower, sink and basin can be used in your garden or to fill your cistern.
    • * Put a brick or a 2litre bottle of water into your cistern. This will reduce the capacity of the tank and thus use less water.
    • * Try not to bath, but if this is all you have, ensure that it is a shallow one and reuse the water as above.
    • * Do not top up your pool unless you are using recycled water.
    • * Use a pool cover on your pool to prevent evaporation. Please ensure that this is safe for children and animals.

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  • 3rd Annual Eco Film Festival at the Labia Theatre March 31st – April 3rd 2016

    Sustainable.co.za will once again be sponsoring the 3rd Annual SA Eco Film Festival. The festival will be returning to Cape Town and surrounds on March 31st – April 3rd this year. Other sponsors include leading Western Cape ECO Friendly business partners Ballo, Reliance and Group 1 Nissan showcasing the 100% electric Nissan Leaf. With engaging and thought provoking program content, Q&A’s, audience interaction, guest speakers and more, this year the SA Eco Film Festival is gearing up to create an ever bigger impact than ever before. Sponsors are getting involved to create some exciting competitions and events, such as Electric Vehicle day. Continue reading

  • Aiding Sustainability On Nelson Mandela Day 2015

    Sustainable.co.za is proud to participate in this year’s Nelson Mandela Day. After spending Madiba Day 2014 cleaning up Zandvlei, this year Sustainable.co.za turns their attention to animals directly. This year they will be donating 67 Everlight Solar Lights to Outraged South Africans Against Rhino Poaching (OSCAP).

    Sue, from OSCAP, comments upon receiving the news from Sustainable.co.za manager, Angela Lee-Wright, this morning,

    “How amazing to open this message this morning! We have been struggling badly to support KZN Crime Investigation Unit - we are also support Thula Thula Rhino Orphange and Anti Poaching Units Black Mambas and Protrack in Greater Kruger.  This donation will help each of the above individuals…Bless you for caring and supporting Rhino OSCAP/DAN.”

    It is imperative for South Africans and rhino lovers across the globe to join together and take a stand against rhino poaching. OSCAP focuses their attention on ensuring the rhino hunting permit system is sound and are promoting a White Rhino census within South Africa. They work closely with other rhino organisations to increase local and international education and awareness about rhinos.

     

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  • International Tiger Day: Prevent the Extinction of Wild Tigers

    The 29th of July is International Tiger Day. More than ever, these majestic cats need the world’s attention. At the current rate at which tigers in the wild are decreasing, they could be extinct in the next 5 years.

    International Tiger Day or Global Tiger Day was set in motion in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit. During the summit, tiger range countries declared that they wanted to double wild tiger numbers by 2022. The day exists to rally awareness and support for tiger conservation issues as well as promote the protection and expansion of wild tigers’ habitats.

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    Wake Up Call

    With only 3000 tigers left in the wild, 200 less than 2013, the number of tigers in the wild is at its lowest ever. The statistics are sobering: in just over 100 years, we have lost 97% of all wild tigers.

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    Image Source: http://tigerday.org/

    Causes

    Major contributors towards the drastic decline in wild tiger numbers include:

    Habitat Loss

    The tigers’ habitat has been put at a serious risk, with 93% of their habitat lost due to city and agricultural expansion. 100 sq Km of forest is only sufficient to support about 16 tigers. Smaller areas of habitat have made tigers more vulnerable to inbreeding and poaching.

    Human Wildlife Conflict

    The growing human population has left tigers and humans competing for space. For communities living in close proximity to tiger forests, tigers are a major concern. Since tigers’ habitats are shrinking and their choice of natural prey is decreasing, they are bound to hunt domestic livestock. Not only are humans losing the livestock on which they depend , but their own lives are at risk. The result is that these ‘conflict tigers’ are often killed or captured for black markets.

    Hunting

    Tigers are often hunted for their skins or for decorative purposes. In China, tiger meat and bones are believed to have beneficial medicinal value which has lead to a massive illegal trade of tiger parts.

    Climate Change

    The Sundabans is a large mangrove forest hosting one of the world’s largest tiger populations. The forest is situated on the northern coast of the Indian Ocean, stretching across areas of India and Bangladesh. Unfortunately, rising sea levels as a result of climate change are posing a major threat to the forest’s existence. The WWF have estimated that without significant efforts to slow down climate change, the forest could be destroyed by the ocean by 2070.

    Get Involved

    As overwhelming as these facts may seem, we have the ability to make a difference:

    Raise Awareness

    Social media platforms are great for raising awareness of the wild tiger’s plight. Show your support by sharing 21st Century’s Tiger or International Tiger Day posts or tweet about #tigerday.

    Take it a step further by making use of 21st Century’s Facebook cover images or by adding a Twibbon to your Twitter or Facebook profile.

    Donate

    21st Century Tiger exists to ‘give wild tigers a future.’ They have 70 conservation projects running in 7 countries. To assist them in saving wild tigers, people can choose to give once-off payments or provide ongoing support (through PayPal).

     

     

     

    wwfThe WWF (World Wildlife Fund) focuses on protecting many endangered species including the tiger. They are working towards preventing tiger poaching, reducing habitat destruction and negotiating with local governments to implement stronger laws. To help fund their efforts, tiger lovers can adopt a ‘tiger’.

     

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    Panthera is a non-profit organisation protecting wild cats. They are fighting for the survival of wild tigers by protecting tiger habitats through law enforcement, monitoring tiger population changes and by working with communities faced with human-tiger conflicts. You can support their efforts by donating to them or by hosting a fundraiser.

     

     

    Shop Wisely

    Palm oil is found in approximately half of all packaged foods as well as in soaps, cosmetics and fuel for cars and power plants. Although the oil has multiple benefits, it holds a great threat to the environment. Tigers are being put at a direct risk - the deforestation taking place in Sumatra and Malaysia due to palm oil crop plantations is a serious concern for tiger habitats.

    downloadBy being an informed consumer, you can make a positive contribution:

    -         Only support companies who are using certified sustainable palm oil.

    -         Request for retailers to source and stock sustainable palm oil products.

    -     Look for the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) logo on products containing palm oil.

     

    Happy Tiger Day from the team at Sustainable.co.za – let’s join together to establish safe habitats for these beautiful creatures in the wild.

     

  • Waterkloof Wine Estate: Sustainable Farming

    Waterkloof Wine Estate is tucked away in the hills of Somerset West in the Western Cape. Known for its beautiful wines and award winning restaurant, their lesser known feature is the extent of their sustainable farming program. Every aspect of production is included in their sustainability programme from their bio-dynamic vineyards to their ‘restaurant in the sky’, which also contributes to environmental protection.

    So how does a farm that uses absolutely no municipal water run? Apart from farming in strict accordance with moon rhythms and the lunar calendar, Waterkloof also focuses on the following areas:

    WATER

    Water: Waterkloof has it’s own spring that supplies the farm with water. The spring water is purified and used in the wine making process, for drinking, in the restaurant and for drip irrigation in the vineyards.

    ANIMALS

    Horses: Waterkloof uses numerous animals within its farming methods to help conserve the environment including Percheron horses. Well known for their “horse power”, each of the farm’s Percheron horses are able to cover up to 8 hectares (approximately 11 soccer fields) of the farm to plough, carry compost and containers of grapes. Six-strong horses plough, compost, spray and harvest the farm instead of tractors. The Percheron horses are also used to remove weeds from underneath the vines, keeping Waterkloof chemical free without damaging the root or soil systems.

    Sheep: The farm is home to a flock of Dorper sheep who are excellent weed controllers! Their droppings are also a rich source of nitrogen which feeds the soil. They are moved around every day and thus enrich the farm evenly.

    Cows: Waterkloof is home to numerous Jersey cattle. Their manure is used in biodynamic preparations.

    Birds: The farm’s chickens enjoy a life in chicken mobiles – moveable chicken houses – where they lay their organic eggs in the straw-filled nests. They are also free to run throughout the vines keeping the weevil population under control. Perches for birds of prey have also been installed in order to control the rodent population.

    Earthworms: Waterkloof created its own earthworm farm from old wine barrels and uses the earthworm tea in the vegetable and herb gardens.

    SYSTEMS

    Permaculture: Companion planting is employed in the Waterkloof vegetable garden. The plant beds are rotated every planting season. The veggies are used directly in the restaurant kitchen.

    Composting: The compost produced on the farm is vital in putting life back into the soil at Waterkloof. Bacterial and fungal orientated compost assists the vines with absorption of nutrients and helps with water retention in the soil.

    Waste: Even the organic waste products in the cellar and restaurant kitchen are composted.

    Clearing Foreign Plants: Approximately 45 hectares of Waterkloof have been cleared of alien invader species allowing indigenous plants to grown and thrive.

    Waterkloof took their eco efforts even further when they registered their conservation areas with Cape Nature as part of their voluntary Conservation Stewardship project. This allows the estate to measure the benefits associated with sustainable farming, energy and water ‘avoided costs’ and the impact of healthy soils, good water infiltration, enhanced productivity and pest control.

    In 2008 Waterkloof was one of ten estates to be awarded a BMI Champion status due to their proven track record of environmental responsibility.

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    WIN

    If you’d like to visit Waterkloof Wine Estate to experience the Biodynamic vineyard tour followed by a Healey cheese and Waterkloof Wine tasting, then either comment on the Waterkloof blog post picture, on the Sustainable.co.za Facebook page, about how sustainability interests you, or follow Sustainable.co.za on Twitter and retweet this post.

    Waterkloof Estate is located outside Somerset West on the M9 Sir Lowry’s Pass Village Road.

    Competition runs from Monday 30th of June to Wednesday 9th of July 2014. The winner will be announced by Friday the 11th of July.

  • Green Women in South Africa

    piperre_hardy_green_peeptoesIn honour of all the fantastic women in South Africa, we will be running a competition for Women’s Day – all you need to do is visit our Twitter or Facebook pages and like, share or retweet our post! You can stand a chance to win a luxury water-saving showerhead.

    According to businesswomen.co.za, South African women are the driving force behind our green economy – adapting sustainable practices, minimising environmental damage and uplifting local communities. Here’s our selection of women who are making a green impact, although we recognise that there are hundreds of ladies out there working tirelessly for the greater good.

    Mavis Mogasie Mathabatha

    Mavis Mathabatha was crowned South Africa's 2010 Female Entrepreneur of the Year by the Department of Agriculture. She maintains a forest of Moringa oleifera trees, known for their leaves which possess excellent nutritional properties. Furthermore, Mavis is the founder of Sedikong sa Lerato, an all-women organisation dedicated to reducing malnutrition, poverty and hunger in the area. The leaves can be eaten fresh or in powder form, and have drastically improved the health of the children supported by the project. Her organisation manufactures Moringa leaf powder, the sales of which support her child-care initiatives and community projects.

    Camilla Howard

    A keen adventurer, Camilla Howard recently completed a 3000km “Trek for Trash” journey across South Africa’s coastlines. The aim of the lengthy trek was to raise awareness regarding litter pollution, and also collect trash that they encountered throughout their walk. There were also community events organised, where locals could go and join them in their coastal clean-up initiatives. The trek, which began in October 2012, also involved visits to schools and local municipalities, and ended in April earlier this year. Camilla and her trek partner, Michael Baretta, collected a whopping 7 tonnes of rubbish. They continue to organise various clean-up events around the country.

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    All Women Recycling

    As the name suggests, All Women Recycling is an organisation dedicated to empowering women and upcycling waste products to reduce environmental pollution. The business, based in Cape Town, creates eco-friendly gift boxes made from 2 litre plastic cooldrink bottles. Around 60% of the boxes produced are sold internationally, whilst locally, products are sold at over 30 retail outlets and at markets. Unemployed women are taught how to make the gift boxes, and also learn valuable business skills.

    Wonder Women

    From all of us here at Sustainable.co.za, have a wonderful women’s day. Why not treat yourself to something special from our online store? And don’t forget about our competition!

  • A South African Snapshot on World Environment Day

    Global warming, the BP oil spill, rubbish in the oceans and a hole in the ozone are all reminders that the world as we know it is under threat. Never has it been more populated, or more polluted. People from around the world are increasingly banding together to do something about it with the creation of initiatives like World Environment Day.

    An International Focus on a World Wide Problem

    Celebrated on the 5th of June, World Environment Day aims to raise global awareness of the need to take positive steps to improve and guard the environment. Now in its 41st year the event commemorates the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment which was held on this day in 1972.

    The theme for 2013 is Think.Eat.Save.and is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign with the aim of making people aware of the impact their food choices have on the environment.  More on this later as we take a look at some of the specific environmental issues that South Africa is facing at present.

    Local Environmental Threats & Solutions

    Like every other country in the world South Africa faces a number of environmental problems and is looking to creative solutions to turn things around.

    What Are We Eating?

    Fittingly tied in to the World Environment Day theme, an issue that’s gaining traction in South Africa is that of how our food gets produced. People are becoming better educated when it comes to battery chickens and genetically modified vegetables and fruit.

    According to Andreas Späth South Africa is the only country in the world that allows genetically modified versions of its national staple, white maize, to be grown commercially. He notes that around 72% of all maize grown in the 2011/2012 period was GM.

    Studies are still being conducted around genetically modified seeds and whether the food produced from them really is that unhealthy. So far a number of risks have been identified, as listed by WebMD:

    - Introducing allergens and toxins to food
    - Accidental contamination between genetically modified and non-genetically modified foods
    - Antibiotic resistance
    - Adversely changing the nutrient content of a crop

    Whether all of these risks are proven to exist or not, the safer course of action is clearly to support local farmers (who don’t use GM seed) or even growing your own vegetables. Initiatives like The Backyard Farmer are also a great step in the right direction, offering communities plenty of tips and advice on growing their own food.

    The Acid Issue

    The South African economy is built on its mining sector and we’re one of the biggest exporters of gold, platinum and other ores in the world. The problem is that mining tends to cause a number of issues, the most pressing being acid mine water (most often associated with old, abandoned mine shafts).

    Acid water is formed when surface water like rain water comes into contact with rocks that contain sulfur-bearing minerals. When the water comes into contact with these minerals a chemical reaction takes place and sulfuric acid is produced. When this acidic water flows into underground water tables, rivers or even comes into contact with soil it tends to have very harmful effects like contaminating drinking water, disrupting the growth of aquatic life and damaging metal structures like bridges.

    A Locally Developed Solution

    Earlier this year Business Day reported that a research group headed by Sunny Iyuke, head of the Wits School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, in conjunction with a professor from NASA have developed new technology to deal with acid mine water.

    The team have created a special membrane using nanotechnology which can purify water by collecting all pollutants whilst letting the, now clean, water pass through it. Prof Iyuke believes the membranes present a practical solution as other methods of purifying the water are much more expensive. He’s not currently sure how much it will cost to produce the membranes but believes that it will still be more affordable than other options, once commercialized.

    Natural Habitats under Threat

    South Africa has some of the most bio-diverse areas in the world; the fynbos region in the Western Cape is a prime example of an area rich in flora found nowhere else in the world.  According to the South African Government the country contains “almost 10% of the world's total known bird, fish and plant species, and over 6% of the world's mammal and reptile species”, even though it only represents 2% of the Earth’s total land surface at 1.2 million km2.

    Pollution and the construction of resorts and residential properties continue to threaten these incredibly sensitive environments.  Currently SA has 528 protected areas totaling 7.5 million hectares, or 6.2% of the total land area.

    Unfortunately this still leaves much of the country’s precious habitats unprotected and, even some of the preserved areas like St Lucia have come under threat from developers seeking to utilize the area.

    To date the South African public is still the best defender of these areas as citizens continue to oppose any infringements on the sanctity of these areas and are quick to point out any violations to the authorities, and the media.

    Other local, environmental issues that are very much on the forefront at the moment is the scourge of rhino poaching as well as the pollution caused by our mines and factories. Neither of which have been solved, nor are even close to being solved at present.

    Taking Action Locally

    Whilst we’re still battling a number of issues and need many more innovative solutions there is something every South African can do on World Environmental Day – which is to take the Think.Save.Eat. message to heart and becoming aware of where our food is coming from, what the environmental impact is and making an informed decision on which products we support. Another great way to honour the environment is to cut down on food wastage as much as possible.

    But why stop there? Why not take a look at our energy and water consumption as well? There are a myriad of products available to help cut down on wastage ranging from solar panels, gas water heaters, LED lighting, water saving shower heads and more.  These products are easy to use and can make a world of difference. Think, and do your bit to save the earth this World Environment Day.

  • Fracking film – Gasland – What can happen to our Karoo

    Sunday 20 March Kommetjie Hall 7pm

    The Kommetjie Transition village initiative will be screening Gasland in the Kommetjie Community Hall on Sunday 20 March from 7 pm. There will be a short facilitated discussion afterwards with information on possible next steps that concerned people could take as well some insights into South African geology.

    R5 or 5 talents at the door towards Transition events.

    The film is 1 hour and 44 minutes long and is a documentary made recently in the USA where Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) as a way of extracting natural gas has been going on for a while despite strong evidence of pollution of groundwater and air and attendant health problems. This is the technology that is being put forward as the way to access gas deposits in the Karoo – much to the anger of farmers and environmentalists.
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  • Steps to Combat Rhino Poaching in 2011

    Rhino poaching in South Africa in 2010 became very much a hot topic amongst conservationists locally and around the world. The situation has almost become uncontrollable as poachers are realizing the ease at which they are currently able to poach rhinos and easily find people who are willing to buy their merchandise around the world. Unfortunately the rhino poaching industry is almost in a state of flourish, which is obviously not ideal for a species that is fast nearing extinction.

    What is being done to combat rhino poaching in 2011? Continue reading

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