How to green marathons and other athletic events

Morgan on the run at Comrades 14March and April are traditionally two very busy months for the Plastics|SA clean-up crew. Led by Plastics|SA’s Sustainability Manager, John Kieser, a team of 205 “cleaners” who are employed from local townships were trained to quickly and effectively pick up all litter that is left behind by athletes and spectators who attended three of Cape Town’s biggest events these past few weeks, namely The Cape Argus Cycle race, the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon and the SA Navy Festival. This project is an excellent example of greening marathons and other athletic events.

“The active and visible involvement of the Plastics|SA clean-up team and the PETCO branded bins and truck at these annual events are most certainly helping to create an awareness of the mountains of litter generated at big events such as these,” Kieser said. The City of Cape Town played a major role in boosting their clean-up efforts, by ensuring that the routes for this year’s cycling and marathon races, were thoroughly cleaned prior to the race days, using a collection of various technology driven machinery.

DSC_0662This year’s Old Mutual/Two Oceans marathon, known as “the world’s most beautiful race”, attracted close to 30 000 athletes plus spectators. The athletes are handed an energy drink in green sachets, which proved to be the most problematic item for the teams to collect.

“There were 23 refreshment stations which each received approximately 20 000 bags which they hand out to the athletes. That’s a lot of green sachets to keep track of!”, Kieser explained. On top of this, the day’s unexpected cold and wet conditions caused many people to use refuse bags as make-shift raincoats, which were later discarded and also needed to be collected. Despite these challenges, the Plastics|SA clean-up team once again faced their task with vigour and dedication. A total of 9 truckloads of plastic waste were removed after the race day, and sent away for recycling. This endeavour helped with greening the marathon.

DSC_0910The intrepid team of waste collectors were also in action this past weekend, assisting with the SA Navy Festival which took place in Simonstown Harbour. John used this opportunity to deliver a presentation to the new intake of servicemen on the ‘clean sea/clean ship’ mentality, highlighting the need for the material generated on the various vessels to be compacted and returned to the harbour for recycling. Waste generated at the event was sorted on site and transported to the Waste Plan MRF in Kraaifontein for recycling. Food waste was sent to Noordhoek for compositing.

“It is obvious that the public still needs to be educated about littering and responsible participation in such events. Our “event greening” is a much needed service which also gives us a visible platform to showcase the plastics industry’s commitment to waste management and recycling during marathons and other athletic events,” Kieser concluded.

Climate-neutral handball tournament series

playhandball tourn 007The 1st climate-neutral handball tournament series in South Africa is aiming to reach out with sport to the youth, bring players from various schools and cultural backgrounds together,at the same time educating them about the environment. PLAY HANDBALL ZA is hosting the 1st PLAY HANDBALL SuperCup on the 24th of April 2016, 9am-5pm at the German International School in Tamboerskloof, Cape Town. Twenty-two youth teams in three age categories from Cape Town to Franschhoek are expected; the groups are Primary School Mix U14, High School Girls U16 and High Shool Boys U 16.

The idea of the tournament is to enhance environmental awareness among Western Cape youth, with special emphasis placed on educating about environmental issues, waste management solutions and sustainable living. To translate this idea into action, tasks will be given to the teams prior to the tournament and teams will be challenged to develop ideas of how they can contribute to a clean and healthy environment. Teams will collect waste in their communities, schools and/or around their handball field and find innovative new ways to dispose of or recycle it. The most creative ideas around waste disposal and/or recycling will be awarded with a “Green Award” on the day of the tournament and the team will be given a tree by the environmental organisation,, which also supports the initiative. Beside this task, there will be an Eco-Trail at the tournament providing the possibility of winning exciting tombola prizes at the climate-neutral event.

playhandball tourn 369The German International School in Cape Town is hosting the tournament at their outdoor-sport field. This innovative project, initiated by PLAY HANDBALL ZA, is carried out in partnership with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), the Deutscher Handballbund (DHB), as well as the Deutsche Sporthochschule Koeln (DSHS). The tournament on Sunday will be the first of its kind and is serving as a pilot. There are two more tournaments planned for this year. Beside the tournament as an exciting reward at the end of a school term, a handball and life skill manual will be developed in cooperation with the Deutsche Sporthochschule Koeln.

PLAY HANDBALL ZA is a sports and development organisation founded in 2013 in South Africa and is using handball to create positive change for children and communities. With handball we teach life skills, empower the youth – especially girls – and contribute to an open-minded inclusive society without racial, social or gender based boundaries. PLAY HANBDALL is providing the knowledge on how to implement handball in schools and how to combine it with life skills. We support community based organisations and schools with equipment and volunteers to implement this approach towards climate-neutrality.

Ten simple tips for going green at the office this Earth Day (22 April)

Earth Day is always a stark reminder of the fact that we should be doing more to conserve resources. Khululiwe Mabaso, CSI Associate Director for Sub-Saharan Africa at Procter & Gamble, shares some practical tips on how to make sustainability a daily habit at your company, rather than just a once-a-year effort.

1. Paper cut – Perhaps the simplest way to start making climate-wise changes in the office is to reduce paper usage. The Environmental Protection Agency in the US has found that the average worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year. Research has also shown that 30% of jobs printed are not collected. In this digital age, the need to print numerous documents daily has waned. Encourage your colleagues to think twice about pressing the ‘Print’ button and change the default settings on the office printers to print only in black and white and on both sides of the page. Buy recycled paper and consider using spare paper as notepads.

2. Responsible recycling – Another quick win is to start recycling. It is estimated that an office of 100 people produces, on average, 20 bags of waste weekly. This fills one 1,100L waste bin every five days. But 90% of this waste can be recycled. Set up recycling stations around the office and encourage colleagues to think before they throw away. You can even gradually work towards removing individual bins at desks.

Salad3. Ditch the disposables – Do away with paper cups, plastic plates and cutlery, and invest in crockery that can be reused many times over. This is especially important to consider if you have an office canteen, as takeaway boxes are a big waste.

4. Light it up – Lighting usually accounts for about 20% to 30% of a company’s carbon footprint. Reduce your office electricity costs by investing in energy-efficient lighting such as LEDs or compact fluorescent lights. Most importantly, turn the lights off when they are not needed, i.e. when a room is unoccupied or at night. You can also invest in motion sensors. In offices where there is a lot of sunlight, avoid using unnecessary lighting during the day.

5. Roadtrip – Encourage colleagues who have their own cars to consider carpooling. With petrol prices on the rise, saving money can be a significant motivator. You may also consider providing incentives for colleagues who car pool. For every 100 km not driven, 28 kg of CO2 emissions is saved. Even simple measures such as correctly inflating your car tyres can increase fuel efficiency by up to 25%.

Garieb Dam South Africa6. Drip, drip, drip – South Africans have become very cognisant of water usage in the past few months, as drought continues to plague much of the country. Low-flow basins and toilets and motion sensors on taps are ideal to conserve this precious resource, but you can begin with simple changes. Rainwater harvesting is an ideal solution to looking after office gardens and greywater recycling for toilets can also be considered.

7. It’s getting hot in here – Frequent drastic changes in temperature of the office air conditioners or heaters make these appliances work much harder. Also consider the fact that moving the thermostat by just 2°C, up or down, can save hundreds of kilograms of CO2 emissions annually.

8. Turn it off – Avoid leaving office equipment powered up when it isn’t in use. Use time switches or sleep settings on your office printer, if they are available. It’s also important to bear in mind that computers also have energy-saving settings, such as opting for hibernation rather than electricity-sapping screensavers. In addition, rather purchase laptops than desktops as they use five times less energy – and allow employees to work from anywhere.

Antarctic Scientist9. Don’t be deskbound – technology has advanced to such an extent that many jobs no longer require people to be at the office from 8 to 5 every day. If your colleagues work from home every now and then, they’ll save on carbon emissions, fuel and time.

10. Communication is key – Modifying your colleagues’ behaviour, even if it is for a good cause, is not going to happen overnight. Make the environmental goals specific and tangible, ensure you keep everyone in the loop about the changes, and regularly reinforce why it is necessary to implement them. Use existing platforms such as the company intranet, noticeboards and plasma screens to communicate, and place reminders, such as stickers, at points of impact like bathroom basins and printers. Set up feedback and suggestions channels for your colleagues. Most importantly, measure, track and report on progress, and recognise achievements – finding out what motivates your colleagues and rewarding them accordingly will solidify behaviour change.

How vinyl will be used in the 2016 Olympic Games

During the next few months, the 2016 Olympic Games will once again be on everybody’s lips when the much anticipated event takes place later this year hosted by the colourful city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It will be the first time that the Olympic Games will be held on the South American continent. Thousands of athletes from more than 200 countries will be competing for Olympic and Paralympic medals in more than 300 events that will be watched by spectators and fans from around the world.

SPORTS STADIUMHowever, very few people watching these events unfold will be aware of the vitally important role PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) plays in the hosting of yet another successful, sustainable Olympic Games. “Vinyl is cost-effective, durable and light weight – making it ideal for a variety of different uses and applications in the sporting arena, ranging from roofs to high performance flooring. It is also suitable for outdoor sporting applications such as the clothes used by sailors who require protection from natural elements, whilst vinyl gloves and protective sparing pads are used in boxing and martial arts. Vinyl also brings sports into our living rooms thanks to the flexible PVC used in the cables that make television broadcasting possible,” explains Delanie Bezuidenhout, CEO of the Southern African Vinyls Association (SAVA).

The London 2012 Olympic Games were considered to be the most sustainable Games ever held. Four years ago, the use of PVC was vital in the building of temporary venues in and around London and was also used extensively in sports equipment and accessories.

“The organisers of this year’s Games are hoping to take this sustainability commitment one step further by ensuring that many of the materials they use in their stadiums actually originate from previous year’s events and by committing themselves to a detailed sustainability plan,” Delanie says.

large_468During the London Games, more than 142,000 m² of PVC fabric was used in the Olympic Park as well as at external sites, while infrastructure installed included PVC pipes and the insulation of electrical cables. In addition to buildings and infrastructure, athletes who participated in their individual and team events wore sportswear and shoes and used sports bags and canopies that were made from, or included, PVC. In addition, mats, padding and barriers made from PVC were used extensively to protect both athletes and game spectators.

“Once the Games ended, all temporary structures were dismantled and recycled using a system of crushing, selective dissolving and fibre separation. Several stadiums built or restored for the 2014 FIFA World Cup used recycled PVC extensively and are expected to once again be used in the hosting of the Games from the 4th to 21st of August 2016, such as the petal-shaped roof of the Arena das Dunas which was completely coated with PVC on one side, and a waterproof PVC roof cover and a fire-resistant PVC membrane which were used for the Arena Pantanal, which replaced the Stadium Governador José Fragelli in Cuiabá.” Delanie says.

“The goal of the organisers is to save energy, modernise the look of the stadium and protect spectators from the midday sun. Using PVC helps them to achieve modern and airy architecture which exploits natural light and favors cross ventilation”, Delanie explains.

DSC_0662However, besides using PVC in stadiums and large construction works, it is also used in a wide variety of different applications for the professional and amateur practice of sports. The versatility, light-weight and resilience of this material makes it ideal for items used in swimming, boxing, running, cycling, tennis, fitness, sailing, football, skiing, and the list goes on and on.

“PVC is used in many world class sporting events and top-quality equipment. Perhaps it will prove it can jump through hoops and ladders to deliver on performance at the forthcoming 2016 Olympic Games.” Delanie concludes.

How township lives are being changed by helping township pets

Photos from Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Cape Town, South Africa.As Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha celebrates 20 years of serving animals and their community this year, we plan to roll out our largest campaign yet – providing medical treatment to 12 000 animals. Animal abuse and neglect is part of everyday life in townships across South Africa. But imagine a change – a community where animals are seen as companions by every community member. The Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha is creating this change and we are asking the public to be a part of it. In just two months we wish to raise the cost of one year’s supply of medical drugs and consumables costs ($40 000 / R600 000) to treat approximately 12 000 animals during our next financial year (July 2016 – June 2017). Our very first Crowdfunding campaign has gone live on Generosity by Indiegogo. In just a few days the campaign raised R25 000 as people are rushing to the online site to support what we want to achieve.

A township such as Khayelitsha suffers from high rates of violence, poverty, disease and social distress. Children are born into a cycle of poverty and insecurity believing that rape, hunger, violence and cruelty are norms. Animals are victims of this environment as much as humans are and the health of the two is undoubtedly linked. “At Mdzananda we believe that a community that loves animals is a healthy community. By looking after an animal people learn responsibility, respect for life, compassion and non-violence. These are valuable attributes which flow over into everyday life,” says Marcelle du Plessis, Fundraising and Communications Manger.

Photos from Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Cape Town, South Africa.Support the campaign to change 12 000 township pets’ lives by visiting Khayelitsha township is home to an estimate of 500 000 people and their 170 000 pets. The majority of dogs and cats are unvaccinated, which means infectious diseases are extremely prevalent. Pets are unsterilized and this leads to a constant increase in animals. There is a great lack of knowledge about animal husbandry, leading to nutritional and parasitic diseases. The lack of established properties and stray dog population results in many animals roaming the township and becoming victims of motor vehicle accidents. These are only a few examples of the challenges animals face in a township environment.

However, this does not mean that they are not loved. “There is often the opinion that people in townships should not own pets. We have a different opinion. Anyone who visits Mdzananda has the pleasure of meeting owners who adore their animals. Lack of education and funds are what generally results in neglect, illnesses and injuries. We work on educating the community while providing low cost veterinary services,” says du Plessis.

“We are excited to launch this campaign in celebration of our 20 year milestone. We have helped thousands of animals through the years and we want to make our 21st year the most impactful one yet. But we need the public to help make this possible by supporting our online crowdfunding campaign.”

Mdzananda-117The Mdzananda Animal Clinic serves up to 1000 animals per month through consultations, hospitalization and surgery for sick and injured animals, primarily dogs and cats. Other services that we provide include performing continuous sterilizations, rehoming unwanted or abandoned pets and assisting with cases of neglect or abuse.

With 31% of the households in Khayelitsha falling below the poverty line of $121 / R1845 per household per month, it is impossible for most people to afford private or even standard veterinary welfare organization fees. There is also little to no transport for community members to access help for their pets outside the Khayelitsha area. The Mdzananda Animal Clinic offers low cost veterinary services, generally not even covering our cost price, in the heart of the Khayelitsha township.

Apart from our permanent clinic, our Mobile Clinics reach areas of the community that are beyond walking distance from the clinic. Mobile Clinics help to make services for pets easily accessible. An ambulance service that collects and delivers animals is also available.

The Mdzananda Animal Clinic has a strong focus on community empowerment and education. We believe that only through education can we make a lasting impact in the lives of animals and their human companions.

Photos from Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Cape Town, South Africa.“Our vision is to transform the community into one where every animal is treated with companionship and care and in so doing creating a healthier community for animals and humans alike.”

The Mdzananda Animal Clinic is supported by individual donors since 1996, the International Fund of Animal Welfare since 2003 and Investec since 2015.

How businesses can save money by saving energy

Sun International Targets R30 million in Energy Savings at Hotels and Casinos

Sun International is targeting at least R30 million in energy savings at its casinos and hotels by investing in energy-saving interventions ranging from the insulation of geysers and pipes to adopting energy efficient lighting and coaching staff to conserve energy.

SUN INTERNATIONAL - The Table Bay Hotel - Cape TownThe targeted savings were identified by an energy efficiency audit of the leisure and gaming company’s facilities funded by the National Business Initiative’s Private Sector Energy Efficiency (PSEE) programme. The audit identified energy savings of as much as 61% of current energy costs at four of Sun International’s premier properties: The Golden Valley Casino, The Table Bay Hotel; The Carousel; and The Windmill Casino and Entertainment Centre.

“Boosting energy efficiency offers not just an opportunity for Sun International to lower its energy costs but is also a chance for the company to do its bit to alleviate pressure on South Africa’s power grid,” says Michael Farr, Group GM Brand and Communications of Sun International. “All companies in South Africa need to do their bit to improve their energy efficiency efforts as part of the nationwide campaign to reduce waste and maximise the amount of power available to the wider economy.”

The PSEE is a bi-lateral initiative between South Africa and the UK which aims to improve energy efficiency in commercial and industrial companies in South Africa by identifying and implementing energy saving measures. Regulated energy price increases in South Africa are expected to raise electricity costs for South African businesses by 47% over the five year period running from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2018.

The PSEE audit showed that Sun International’s Carousel Casino and Entertainment World in the North-West Province could slash energy costs by a massive 61% resulting in an annual saving of more than R7.5 million, simply by adopting new energy conservation measures. The resort’s total energy spend in 2013 was R14.57 million, of which 97% or R13.9 million was for electricity.

Similarly, The Golden Valley in the Western Cape town of Worcester could slash its R3.78 million energy bill by as much as 40%, while The Windmill Casino and Entertainment Centre just outside Bloemfontein has the capacity to reduce its energy bill by 29% for a saving of more than R1.2 million annually.

While casinos typically have higher electricity costs due to the wide range of gaming equipment that they utilise, Sun International is also honing in on the energy use of its hotel facilities.

The Table Bay Hotel, built in 1997 on the popular Victoria and Alfred Waterfront close to the Cape Town’s city centre, could cut its R7 million annual energy bill by 19%, according to the PSEE. The hotel employs 490 staff and the average monthly energy consumption is 673 000 kilowatt hours (kWh), at a cost of R522 000 depending on occupancy levels. By investing R887 000 in energy efficiency initiatives, the hotel could cut more than 860 000 kWh from its annual consumption and save more than R1.3 million in energy costs. The investment could be paid back in just over eight months, according to the PSEE.

“Energy efficiency clearly has tangible benefits for us as a company and we are looking at ways to replicate these energy savings measures at all of our operations,” says Farr. “A lot of it comes down to education of both staff and guests. Something as simple as encouraging guests to wash towels only when necessary can result in massive savings in the form of both water and electricity.”

Why the Greenpop Festival is a a festival of hope?

P1010055Every year Greenpop, a Cape Town-based tree-planting and eco-education organisation, hosts a three-week tree-planting and sustainability education Festival of Action in Livingstone, Zambia and offers participants the chance to secure a discounted or free ticket to the event by raising funds for trees. Greenpop is happy to announce that it has extended this year’s Trees for Fees fundraising campaign until 30 April 2016 – allowing more time for current activists to reach their tree targets while offering the chance for further activists to sign up to the GivenGain campaign.

This year, 63 Trees for Fees activists have so far raised funds for more than 1700 trees. Many are also going to extraordinary lengths for their campaigns: Jason Ruger is cycling 3000km from Cape Town to Zambia to raise awareness, while others have started YouTube channels and blogs, and hosted green events. Not only will Greenpop use the funds to plant trees across Southern Africa, but for every tree raised activists will also get a discount on their Zambia Festival of Action 2016 fees. Those who raise enough trees can even attend the programme for free, while Greenpop is also offering prizes and incentives for the activist who raises the most trees, and the activist who surpasses their original target by the largest amount.
What is the Greenpop Zambia Festival of Action?

WLT0091 pic3In June-July, Greenpop holds a three-week long festival of action near the mighty Victoria Falls. Hundreds of people from all over the world come together to plant trees, learn about sustainability, share knowledge and have lots of fun. It’s an epic adventure, filled with great people, interesting stories and huge hearts. This is a festival with a difference – it’s an action based, conference-style, voluntourism project that includes camping in the beautiful Greenpop village, meeting like-minded people from around the globe, helping to plant a few thousand trees, growing a food forest, learning about permaculture, attending workshops on alternative energy and eco-enterprises, live music evenings, film evenings, giving back, learning, and celebrating our planet.

Why Zambia?

Greenpop co-founders Lauren O’Donnell and Misha Teasdale received a phone call in 2010 about 15,000 baby trees sitting in Zambia with no one to plant them. Those saplings, and the man who propagated them, are what took Greenpop to Zambia to explore the possibilities of running a community project there.

They discovered a country heavily affected by both deforestation and climate change, making it a relevant space for environmental action, and with such a friendly and welcoming culture, an abundance of inspiring individuals, and a wealth of expertise, Zambia is the perfect location to create a platform for exchange.

“The Zambia Festival of Action has become such a big part of our lives at Greenpop,” says Lauren, “It feels very powerful to bring so many like-minded, inspired people together with a common goal of planting trees and sharing knowledge on the state of our environment and solutions on how we can contribute to conserving our planet. The magic comes from these interactions.”

About Greenpop:
Greenpop is an award-winning social enterprise on a mission to (re)connect people with our planet – and have fun doing it! They plant trees through urban greening and reforestation projects, spread environmental awareness, and activate people through green festivals and workshops. Greenpop was founded in 2010 and has since planted over 57,000 trees at schools and other urban sites as well as forests and farms across South Africa, Zambia, and Tanzania.