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Green Events

  • Don't be in the Dark this Earth Hour

    Every year people switch off their lights for an hour as a collective gesture towards the protection of the environment. Unless you have a streak of Nyctophilia chances are that you would, like most people, prefer to avoid stubbing your toe against the kitchen table leg. If you are a shoe-wearing environmentalist, you'd probably prefer to avoid falling down the stairs when your shoes fail to warn you of the impending drop. Either way, some form of eco-friendly lighting might not be such a bad idea. Yes, we seize every opportunity to promote our wonderful products, see the full range of solar lights here.

    On the 25th of March at 8:30pm local time, people across 24 time zones will be coming together to make a noise in the interest of our only terrestrial home. There’s still a lot of sceptics out there, not to mention national leaders who choose to ignore the realities faced by future generations. Sadly, our society’s myopic policy-making is slow to catch on to the real dangers, but governments and corporates are at last starting to shift their stance on this issue that can no longer be ignored. China is finally enforcing stricter carbon cutting measures on a city-level and its notorious law enforcement isn’t accepting lame excuses; no more “the dog ate my emissions certificate” for Chinese factory owners. Freight ships entering Chinese harbours now have to switch off their diesel engins and take on power lines from the port authorities.

    We have all heard arguments that the earth has been through warmer periods before and that the current warming is due to natural cycles i.e. change in orbit over 100 millennia, the latter has off course been disproven. Increasing levels of CO2 and Methane are the leading cause of present climate change, the far-reaching consequences of which are already becoming apparent in ways far more disastrous than with natural warming. These changes are often far removed from our everyday lives yet thousands of children are dying the world over from pneumonia directly linked to hazardous air quality, but the urgency of environmental policies are still being questioned?

    This year we are privileged to be working with WWF and Green Peace to lobby for the renewable sector, an industry that continually has to justify itself and overcome bureaucratic hurdles. Moreover, the 4th Annual Eco Film Festival will be taking place around Earth Hour, as a co-sponsor, the Sustainable team is looking forward to take part in this event. Whether you are at a festival, sitting at a family dinner table or camping in the bush with stars overhead, join millions of people in a mass demonstration to affect change.

    What can I do other than jumping up and down and banging on Parliament’s door?

     

  • If I could, I would buy you the Earth this Christmas

    Well now you can. Christmas is a time for giving and the best investment you can make for your family is to "buy the earth" back.

    At Sustainable.co.za, we believe that green living should be easy and add to your lifestyle rather than detract. Our little elves spend all their time ensuring that we not only have an expansive range of high quality, cost effective products available, but that there is something for everyone.

    With warm Summer evenings, festive cheer filling the streets, and long, lazy days surrounded by family and loved ones, we certainly are lucky to spend this joyous day in the Southern Hemisphere.

    christmas-in-summerThe Gift of Christmas

    We understand that Christmas gift shopping can be stressful with long queues, packed shopping centres and low or no stock available, it is not a very relaxing thought at a time of year when we need it most. Online shopping greatly alleviates this stress. Browse through our range at any time of day, ask advice and get everything delivered right  to your doorstep from the comfort of your own home. Continue reading

  • 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

  • Going green for Valentine’s Day

    Valentine’s doesn’t need to be steeped in consumerism. A thoughtful gift with both your loved one and the environment in mind is actually quite simple! We explore a few sustainable options for gifts, outings and even creative pursuits…

    Green gift ideas

    A personalized gift makes for a much more lasting expression of love, and best of all it doesn’t have to cost much at all. Don’t forget the simple power of a handwritten card – best of all you can source cards made locally from recycled paper for your special message, or get creative and make your own!

    couple Photo credit: giftsforyounow.com

    If you have a knack for crafts, a lovely idea is to take a photo of yourself and your loved one and create your own one-of-a-kind jigsaw puzzle! Simply glue the photo to a piece of cardboard which you can up-cycle yourself, the board from the back of an old exam pad is perfect.
    There are thousands of jigsaw templates available online. Use a craft knife to trace along the shape outlines – a truly personal gift with no harm done to the environment!

    A nice use for the leftover foil pull-offs from coffee tins and similar tubular tins is to make your own recycled flowers. Much more thoughtful and longer lasting than the last minute petrol station bought variety, and these are so easy to make you can involve the kids too! Plus it means those lids don’t end up in the bin: Continue reading

  • Eco-Camping at Rocking the Daisies

    Rocking the Daisies, one of South Africa’s greenest music festivals, will be taking place during the first weekend of October at the Cloof Wine Estate in Darling. The four-day festival has a great line-up, including 7th Son, Alice Phoebe Lou, Jeremy Loops, The Kooks and Monark, among others.  Here at Sustainable.co.za, we’re just as excited about the green as we are about the music scene!

    Green Measures at Rocking the Daisies

    There are a number of ecological initiatives in place at Rocking the Daisies. No bottled water is sold at the event, push taps are used to reduce water wastage, and grey water is recycled. Food-ware and cleaning products are biodegradable, and all paper marketing material is printed on recycled stock. LED lighting is used wherever possible, and on-site generators run off bio-diesel. There are also bus shuttles provided, and festival-goers are encouraged to walk, cycle or carpool wherever possible. This year the festival will be hosting official initiatives including #RTDSPRINGCLEAN which facilitates the re-homing of unwanted clothing to those in need, and Walk/Cycle The Daisies, a two day hike prior to the festival which aims to promote positive environmental action. Continue reading

  • Emergency: Help Stop the Cape Fires

    Since Sunday, 1 March 2015, fires have been raging in the Silvermine and Muizenberg mountain area as well as Noordhoek and Lakeside. By Tuesday, the fires had spread to Tokai forest, Constantia Nek and Kalk Bay.

    Cape Town Mountain Fires

    muizenberg-fire-1-590x393

    Countless families and businesses have had to evacuate their homes and offices to reach safety. Others are hard at work – volunteers and firefighters alike - to put a stop to the blazing fires.

    Apart from the human lives at stake, the indigenous animals that make fynbos their habitat are in serious danger as well.

    Devastation of the fires near Noordhoek. Photo taken from a staff member’s home. Devastation of the fires near Noordhoek. Photo taken from a staff member’s home.

    Sustainable.co.za have made donations in aid of the emergency and some of our team members are currently on the front line trying to put a stop to the fires.

    A photo from Zeke, (our Managing Director) where he is assisting the build of a fire break at de Goede Hoop Estate. A photo from Zeke, (our Managing Director) where he is assisting the build of a fire break at de Goede Hoop Estate.

    Sustainable.co.za and the communities in the southern suburbs of Cape Town are calling for help. This is what you can do:

     

    Monetary Donations to Fuel Helicopters and Support VWS

    At the moment the fire fighters' most important requirement is money to fuel their vehicles.  Donate on Give and Gain (Wildfire). Bank Deposits or EFT Payments can also be made to:

    • Volunteer Wildfire Services
    • Nedbank
    • Branch: Foreshore
    • Branch Code: 108309
    • Account Number: 1083321226

     

    Donation Drop-off Points & Collections

    If you would like to make a donation of food, cool drinks, etc for the firefighters you can contact the Noordhoek Community Forum for details. They are also looking for sunscreen – keep an eye on the community page to see updates for what items are needed.

    Kind donations by Angela, our general manager. Kind donations by Angela, our general manager.

    Bandaris(Halaal) in Fish Hoek is running a special to help the firemen (aside from their generous contributions-6 large tandoori chicken plus 5kg tandoori chicken-donated from their meat supplier). If you order more than R200 today they will also donate 1/2 a tandoori chicken to Fish Hoek Fire Station.

    Dash Delivery will help with free delivery of donations given by restaurants. Contact them to arrange.

     

    Animal Assistance

    Cape of Good Hope SPCA

    False Bay Veterinary Clinic - 69 Main Road, Muizenberg:

    They will be clearing their schedules today to help treat any injured wildlife found in the aftermath of the fire. They will also be assisting the SPCA with a search and rescue operation once affected areas have been secured. If you find any wildlife requiring assistance, please call them on 021-788 1172.

    Tears Animal Rescue & Deep South Animal Educare are on standby with a vet. Contact: Luke Kruyt - 071 864 4849 / Jaque Le Roux - 071 351 9914.

    Snake Handlers

    There will probably be more snake sightings due to the fires.

    These are the snake handlers closest to Noordhoek: Justin Tracey (074 6435499), Stephen Moll (071 970 3867), and Vard (082 539 4452). They are part of a reputable and registered organisation dealing with reptiles.

    Vet Nurse

    Estelle Van Der Merwe (0834443450) and Michelle (0828063436) are a qualified veterinary nurses and will provide help at any time to any animals in need.

    Tortoises

    Please remember if you find any tortoises after the fire in Kommetjie to bring them to Dr Karyn Levy at Noordhoek Veterinary Clinic or your closest vet if they injured.

    Be on the lookout for these guys. Be on the lookout for these guys.

    Please take note that due to the current state of emergency there is a backlog of queries that will be unable to processed at this time. We promise to attend to every request and query related to the Sustainable.co.za online store as soon as the emergency has resolved

    We thank you in advanced for your commitment, support, and patience!

  • 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.

    shutterstock_42692746

    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.

    1

    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.

     

  • The Top 5 Green Winter Markets in Cape Town

    As a Capetonian, one can easily feel overwhelmed with the amount of amazing places there are to visit in the Mother City. Where should you go this weekend? What interesting events are happening? Of course, you don’t want to miss out on anything, but if you are unable make a decision, simply staying at home becomes the comfortable (yet lame) option.

    Now consider this - markets give you the best of everything in one location, and to make things better, they also frequently offer something new so you won’t get stuck seeing the same products, listening to the same music or eating the same food! In this blog we decided to highlight local markets that are pioneering environmentally sustainable practices, which gives you even more reason to leave the comforts of your home this winter.

    1. Bay Harbour Market

    The Bay Harbour Market is one of the first South African markets that aims to achieve zero waste. This may seem like a big challenge, considering that the market receives around 6,500 visitors each weekend.
    In its partnership with Thrive Hout Bay, the market has employed a number of strategic recycling initiatives.

    After reducing the number of black waste bins from 33 to 9 in the space of one month, their strategies are already showing success. The reduction was achieved through an effective dishwashing programme, provided to encourage vendors to use washable/reusable plates and cutlery, and a bokashi system. A bokashi recycling programme involves enclosing waste in a sealed bin sprinkled with bokashi, which activates a fermentation process that neutralizes odours and transforms food into high quality compost.

    The Bay Harbour Market is the largest privately owned company in the Hout Bay area and currently employs 50 people locally (23 who have been previously disadvantaged). Employees are mentored so that they can spread environmental awareness around the community, and some workers have become empowered through this initiative to begin their own businesses. One community member launched an eco cleaning company while another started a recycling programme.

    Bay Harbour Market

    The vendors to look out for are:

    - At SF (Sexy Food) the slogan is “don’t panic – it’s ORGANIC”. The stall offers delicious food such bunless veggie burger platters topped with avo, a variety of vegetables, and a pinch of brown sugar.

    - ZA Coffee uses organic coffee beans to produce an excellent cup of coffee. When you ask for an Americano, you are offered the Africano – “It’s the same thing as an Americano, but we’re in Africa, so now it’s an Africano,” says the barista.

    - Eco-Biz is an eco-friendly business supplier with clever products such as recycled wooden journals and solar jars, which produce hours of light when left in the sun during the day.

    Visit the Bay Harbour Market on 31 Harbour Road, Hout Bay, on Fridays between 17:00 and 21:00 and on Saturdays and Sundays between 09:30 and 16:00. You’ll be sure to have a great time at this market.

    Bay-Harbour-Market-Hout-Bay

    2. Neighbourgoods Market (Old Biscuit Mill)

    The Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock is by far the most popular market in Cape Town.. There are a range of organic vegetable merchants and food stalls to visit. When visiting these stores, remember to enquire about the products to ensure that you are purchasing goods that are indeed locally produced or organic. The market also has a recycling program, which is run by Clearer Conscience.

    The market is open on Saturday between 09:00 and 14:00, so make sure you get there early. The address is 373 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town. The market is hard to miss, because there are always large crowds flocking to the beautiful Old Biscuit Mill building.

    Neigbourgoods Old Biscuit Mill

    3. V&A Market On The Wharf

    The Market On The Wharf has a prime location at the V&A Waterfront Harbour and strives toward organic, traditional, and sustainable practices.

    In light of Cape Town’s diverse food offerings, the food market is planning a “Heritage of Food” campaign.

    “I want to move towards the cultural heritage – the journey of food in SA and how it has led to the amazing culinary melting pot called SA cuisine,” said Waterfront Food Market manager, Karin Vermeulen. “We are aiming to communicate the heritage of food so people can understand why Africans eat what they do.”

    The marketing campaign kicks off with new visual aspects – posters and signs that portray the story behind food. According to Karin, the goal is to eventually offer a historical food tour.

    Although the market is far from being predominantly organic, they aim to attract sustainable vendors. Below are some of the market’s most sustainable and organic producers:

    - Lavender Hill: certified organic production of soaps, tea, body butter, and biscuits.

    - By Nature: organically certified nuts and seeds.

    - Stokkiesdraai Biltong: hormone and preservative free biltong and droewors.

    - Jean Pierre Fortain: imported vanilla from Madagascar and artisanally produced sugar cane.

    - Oryx Salts: sustainably produced salt from South Africa's Kalahari Desert.

    - Origin Coffee: delicious fairtrade coffee

    The market runs from Monday to Sunday between 10:00 and 17:30 at The V&A Market on the Wharf, Dock Road, V&A Waterfront near Nobel Square.  Be sure to visit this market on a rainy day as the Waterfront is always buzzing, even on gloomy days.

    V & A Wharf Market

    4. Earth Fair Market

    The Earth Fair Market is held at various locations and times. The largest and most diverse market is the market which takes place on Saturdays.

    There are a number of official organically certified vendors at the market; By Nature and Bees in Boots are certified organic regular traders and there are many other vendors that sell select organic products such as Laughing Crocodile’s organic wine and Manic Organic Pet Food.

    Most Earth Fair stalls practice traditional, authentic, and sustainable methods, which is a result of the market operators’ emphasis on ethical food and local businesses. The market has a diverse offering from a range of nationalities including Belgian, Argentinean, French, and German, to name a few.

    Since the vendors at this market vary in their sustainability practices, each stall has a board with a checklist next to each station to indicate whether pesticides were used in the products or whether it has been locally produced and so on - very convenient!

    On Wednesdays the market is open in Tokai between 15:00 and 20:30. On Thursdays the market is held at St. Georges Mall between 11:00 and 15:00, and on Saturdays again in Tokai between 09:00 and 14:00. Directions to the markets are available on the Earth Fair market website.

     5. Oranjezicht (OZCF)

    Oranjezight City Farm is so much more than a community garden. Through urban farming and their non-traditional food market they promote community involvement and self-reliance through education and sustainable gardening.

    OZCF is a non-profit project and aims to educate people on where and how food is produced and the benefits that come from living an eco-friendly lifestyle. The great thing about this farm is that it utilises land in a previous growing and harvesting region, which has gone unused for decades.

    The market runs every Saturday between 09:00 and 14:00 in all weather conditions and offers guided self-harvests on Wednesdays between 16:00 and 18:00, weather permitting.

    Oranjezicht City Farm (OZCF)

    We hope that you feel inspired to visit a local market this week.  Feel free to share your experience with us or information about other great environmentally friendly markets in the area. Stay up to date with green news by visiting our blog each week. Vendors, feel free to browse our site for products that will help make your store more eco friendly. Market organisers are also welcome to give our energy consultants a call to chat about lowering the carbon footprint of your market.
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  • Camping off the Grid - Practice Self-Reliance at Afrikaburn

    Imagine being stranded in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing around you except rock, dust and the odd shrub. Above you the unforgiving sun is scorching. You are not equipped to deal with these harsh conditions. How will you survive?

    Karoo

    It’s getting close to that time of the year where thousands of people trek to the beautiful Tankwa Karoo to live in the beautiful alternative reality that is Afrikaburn. For those who are not familiar with the event, it is set in the Karoo desert and is similar to the Burning Man festival which is held annually in the United States of America.

    Afrikaburn

    Considering that Afrikaburn is a non-commercial, artistic event, complete self-reliance is required from participants. This means bringing your own food, water and shelter for the duration of your stay. Apart from the sheer nothingness of the Karoo, you are exposed to extreme hot and cold temperatures in the daytime and evenings. To make things more difficult, ripping winds occasionally blow over the plains.

    Afrikaburn

    The folk at Sustainable.co.za believe in self-reliance, whether at home or away, and have put together a list of tools that will make your off grid camping experience at Afrikaburn comfortable and enjoyable!

    1. Elbro Solar Suitcases

    Elbro’s portable multi-use solar suitcase is water resistant and built to be durable in harsh conditions. These solar suitcases are versatile and offer multifunctional ports such as 230 V AC, 5 V DC USB (Mobile-Phone, Laptop, MP3, iPad etc.), and 12 V DC (portable devices) adapters. The electrical charge provided by a Elbro Solar Suitcase is enough to power a small camping fridge.

    Elbro Solar Suitcases

    solarsuitcase_2

    2. Sun Jars

    Sun Jars each contain a LED light housed in a glass jar and are powered by solar energy. These beautiful jars are a completely eco friendly lighting option. In addition to the clear version, Sun Jars come in a range of colours which make them great for colourful festivals like Afrikaburn.

    Sun jars

    3.  Hotbox Eco Cooker

    Hotbox Eco Cookers are a great benefit to cooking in the sense that they reduce the amount of fuel needed to cook meals. Bring your one pot dish to the boil, place it in the hot box and go out and enjoy the scenery for a while. When you return, your food will be perfectly cooked and ready for you to enjoy. The Hotbox Eco cooker works through heat retention and uses less energy to prepare meals.

    Hotbox Eco Cooker

    4.  Power Travel Solar Gorilla

    The Power Travel Solar Gorilla is a solar powered charging station that is used to charge devices such as laptops and mobile phones. The device is durable, versatile (it includes slots to allow suspension on your vehicle or tent) and it’s light to carry, which makes it great for camping trips.

    Power Travel Solar Gorilla

    5.  FL Solar Light - 4 Tube Kit

    FL’s Solar Light - 4 Tube Kit is a versatile lighting kit that contains a good length extension cable and splitters and also has a cellphone charging feature. The fact that this kit is compact and versatile makes it ideal for camping, caravanning and remote locations. It's ideal for lighting and charging for a communal areas, such as a shared stretch tent.

    FL Solar Light - 4 Tube Kit

    6. Sunstove Solar Oven

    The Sunstove Solar Oven 2000 is an oven that works through the intensified heat of the sun. These solar ovens can reach a maximum temperature of 124 degrees Celsius and bring water to the boil in 60 minutes. This means you can cook anything from porridge, rice, stews, soup and bread in the oven. The dimension of a Sunstove Solar Oven 2000 cooker is 780mm x 360mm x 580mm and it has a weight of 4.3kg, which makes it relatively easy to bring along on trips.  The great benefit of these ovens is that they work completely through sun heat and do not require any wood or charcoal, which runs out eventually.

    Sunstove Solar Oven

    7. Edible bowls

    One of the most important aspects of Afrikaburn is that it is considered a ‘green’ event in the sense that whatever waste is generated at the festival must be cleaned up by participants at the end. To reduce the potential waste generated on your camping trip you can purchase edible bowls. These bowls come in a plain or sweeter variety and are great because you have less washing up to do after meals!

    Edible bowls

    Remember to prepare well for your trip to Afrikaburn. We hope that you enjoy the festival and that you have a safe journey.  For more information about sustainable living, follow our blog.

    Afrikaburn

  • Cape Town’s First Eco Film Festival!

    Cape Town Eco Film Festival 2014

    We are proud to announce that Sustainable.co.za is an official sponsor for the inaugural Cape Town Eco Film Festival this year, along with the following sponsors: Reliance Compost, JoJo Tanks, Hemporium, Ballo and Earthbound. The festival is organised by While You Were Sleeping, a non-profit organisation committed to educating South Africans on the pressing social and environmental issues that the world is facing today, through the medium of film.

    The festival will cover a range of subjects such as climate change, pollution, plummeting biodiversity and diminishing natural resources, and will be hosted at the Labia Theatre, on Orange Street from 27 – 31 March 2014. The films featured at the festival have been carefully selected with the aim of providing audiences with the insights and inspiration needed to bring about positive change in society with regards to the natural environment.

    The Labia

    We had a chance to talk to the organisers Andrea Wilson-Späth and Dougie Dudgeon about the motivation behind The Cape Town Film Festival and their work with While You Were Sleeping.

    1. What inspired you to start the Eco Film Festival?

    A: The idea for a film festival that features documentaries about environmental issues has been bouncing around in my head for several years and I'm very excited that it’s actually becoming a reality. I love documentaries and I’m passionate about the environment, so it’s a nice combination.

    Documentaries are much neglected by mainstream cinemas and the vast majority of the films we show will never make it onto the circuit. I think Capetonians deserve to see these films and through the festival we're giving them that opportunity. The hope is that the festival will raise consciousness about environmental problems, initiate public discussion about these issues and encourage our audiences to do something about them, both in their own lives as well as in broader society.

    D: In my case, Andreas did! When I came to Cape Town 6 years ago I was delighted to find the Labia theatre, a real old style independent cinema and I soon came across Andrea’s screenings as "While You Were Sleeping". Actually I was kind of amazed because here was this organisation screening documentary films at a cinema, types of films which rarely got screened in my native London. Brilliant! So I made a point to register my delight. After that Andreas and I kept in touch and he helped me out with a couple of screenings I was involved with. Then at the end of last year, 2013, Andreas pitched in to help me out with the Cape Town Recovery film festival. Although it was a small festival, featuring films about recovery from addiction, there was a heap of work and Andreas stepped up and helped me through it. We were sitting having coffee around that time and Andreas said, "I've always wanted to do an eco film festival." That was too good an opening to miss, so I said "If that is what you want to do, let's do it!" Bingo, a project was born.

    2. Who should come to the festival?

    A: Anyone who cares about the state of the natural environment, but we don't just want to preach to the converted - we think that we have films that will be of interest for everyone. Many of the movies we'll feature don't just raise questions about ecological problems, they're also beautiful, inspiring and engaging. If you're not quite sure what to make of climate change, fracking, genetically modified crops and organic food, etc, we've got films to provide you with the information to make up your own mind. So, really, we want everyone to come to the festival.

    D: Everyone with a pulse. No, I’m joking... sort of. Everyone with an interest in finding solutions. The famous activist Rebecca Sonlit says, you find hope in the dark. When you are sitting in a cinema engaging with a documentary, and then stay for a conversation, it is not uncommon to get caught up in the energy; the desire to find solutions. It's exciting, friendly and interesting, who would not want to come?

    3. What is the importance of eco documentaries?

    A: I think they're really powerful tools that give us the opportunity of learning about something in depth in a very accessible and relatively quick way. If a picture speaks a thousand words, a feature-length documentary can illuminate the story behind complex issues, clarify matters, raise questions, etc. What I really love about documentaries is that they can provide you with loads of factual information while also offering the drama, excitement, and human interest behind an issue. Eco documentaries can inform, answer questions, provide detailed analysis of complicated issues in an accessible way, create awareness, and inspire people to make a difference.

    D: Film is a dynamic and often dramatic way to combine images, sound and dialogue which can engage in ways the written word or the small screen can’t. For me it is also important that so many of the films we screen point out problems, but suggest solutions and almost always start building online presence and campaigns that prolong the effectiveness of the films statement.

    4. Do you hope to inspire local film makers to make documentaries of this nature?

    A: Yes, absolutely. This year's festival includes mostly international feature-length films along with a number of South African short films. We'd love to inspire local film makers to make documentaries, especially ones of the longer form, that provide a uniquely South African perspective on some of the environmental challenges we're faced with. We'd love for the festival to become a platform on which South African filmmakers can showcase their environmental films.

    D: This year the only local material we have are shorts, and a one hour film, “Op Theefontein”.  “Op Theefontein” is an Afrikaans language film and we are thrilled to be including it.  We plan for this to be an annual event, and we hope in future that more local films will be made and that we can screen them.

    5. Are there any international films festivals/organisations that have similar ambitions to what you’re doing and do you partner with them?

    A: We haven't formally partnered with any international film festivals at this point. There are a growing number of festivals around the world that have a similar mission to ours and we're inspired by the work they do. I think in future it would be great to be able to collaborate with some of these film festivals. What we are already doing is teaming up with local environmental organisations like Project 90 by 2030, Green pop, Bicycle Cape Town, the Treasure Karoo Action Group etc. to add expertise and rich content to the festival in order to enrich the experience for our audiences and to offer a platform for groups and individuals to interact and network during the festival.

    D: There are two that I love personally, one is the Eco-focus Film Festival in Athens, Georgia (home of REM and many, many cool creatives), the town has a vibe that rubs off on this festival and they do really well at tying together their local community. The other is the Transitions Film Festival in Australia, Melbourne actually. These guys have great art and design and very cool promotion and marketing as well as fantastic films (many of which we’ve got too).

    6. What other projects are you currently working on with While You Were Sleeping?

    A: We've got loads of ideas for this year, involving a range of different themes, but all to do with great documentary films. People can keep informed about what we're up to by visiting our website, or by checking us out on Facebook and Twitter. One thing that will definitely happen during the second half of the year is the Cape Town Recovery Film Festival, which deals with recovery in the broadest sense of the word - recovery from trauma, abuse, addiction, etc.

    D: We recently screened Velcro Ripper’s “Occupy Love” as an alternative Valentine’s Day outing in conjunction with Michael Elion’s “Secret Love Project”, an official City of Design 2014 project. We are also partnering with a Cape Town based outpatient addiction treatment centre to give the star of the recovery film festival, “The Anonymous People”, its second ever South African screening.

    Several other one off screening projects are being planned, as well as some exciting collaborations, but you'll have to keep watching the While You Were Sleeping Facebook page and website to find out more.

    Theatre seats

    The Sustainable.co.za team is very excited to be a part of While You Were Sleeping’s eco film festival initiative and we hope to see all of our readers at the festival - bring your friends and family! The festival is also a great opportunity for school and other organisational fieldtrips.

    Stay in tune with the Cape Town Film Festival official website, Twitter or Facebook page for updates on the festival. The full programme for the Cape Town Eco Film Festival will be released next week and we will be previewing the movies featured at the event as of then.

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