The EcoLogic Awards: Transforming the green revolution | Infrastructure news

The who’s who of the environmental movement in South Africa converged at Maropeng in Gauteng to honour the winners of the second ever EcoLogic Awards initiated by Enviropaedia.

By Linet Engelbrecht

Twelve top South African environmentalists received prizes, and dozens of other entrants commendations, at a glitzy yet eco-friendly ceremony at the Cradle of Humankind, Maropeng last week hosted by Enviropaedia.

Entrants were assessed by a team of tough judges as diverse as veteran environmental scientist Dr John Ledger, Douw Steyn of the Plastics Federation of SA and Francois van Wyk of Rand Water. Over 400 entries were received.

“Have you ever heard of a dirty snake?” asked David Parry-Davies publishing editor of Enviropaedia who created the event. “A snake is always in the dirt, yet always clean. If we could harness its secret we wouldn’t need detergents for clothes. And if we could create a material as strong as spider silk, we wouldn’t need steel. We could cut the pollution of mining and manufacture strong materials using a bit of water and a few bugs instead. This is called ‘biomimicry’ and is the way of the future.

“Everything people make breaks things and creates waste. Nature generally works by symbiosis; making the waste of one process, the food for another. People have been aware of environmental problems since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 but little has changed. We need a new operating logic to solve problems. We need an ‘ecologic’.

“One principle is reconnecting with nature. That’s why the dress code for tonight is ‘green’. Another principle is to avoid conspicuous consumption. Some 20% of people consume 80% of earth’s resources. We need to go for quality instead of quantity. Built-in obsolescence is so last century. Finally, we need to change our point of focus. Instead of looking only at the problems we need to visualise the abundant green earth we desire.”

Ed Worster, the acting general manager of SABC 3, a major partner of the EcoLogic Awards, paid tribute to the veteran eco programme 50/50 but said SABC 3 was becoming greener by screening programmes such as Shoreline and Green Tips, and through tree planting with Carbonfree.

The keynote speaker was Jason Drew who became an ‘eco entrepreneur’ after suffering two heart attacks. “The first revolution was started by capitalism. The next will be a sustainability revolution,” he told the audience. “Two million chickens are kept in sheds in Saudi Arabia.

Slaughtering causes waste that attracts flies. Chickens traditionally eat flies. So I worked out how to use the chicken waste to produce fly larvae to feed chickens. This saves farmers money. And every tonne of flies eaten means a tonne of fish saved. This is nutrient recycling at its best.”
Drew has also created sterile mosquito males to introduce around homesteads. Each mosquito only travels 300 metres, so the areas around the homesteads now have fewer mosquitoes.

His most contentious business is selling urine. He has built 60 toilets in the slums of Kenya. Locals pay to use them. Urine is diverted one side and solids to another. Solids are composted and urine is fermented then sold to farmers as liquid nitrogen and phosphates.

Boy band December Streets (three guitars, drums, sax and trumpet) from Rocking the Daisies played while guests enjoyed unfracked Karoo lamb and other delights. The place was awash with red organic Stellar wine and green glitterati – Ella Bella and this year’s Miss Earth SA Tamerin Jardine, TV personality Michelle Garforth-Venter, veteran elephant and rhino conservationist Clive Walker, Jeunesse Park founder of Food and Trees for Africa, Yolan Friedmann ceo of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), and Karen Trendler, wildlife rehabilitation specialist.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust brought along Rico the Belgian shepherd sniffer dog to show how quickly he could find ground up rhino horn in a suitcase. A lady from Rand Water wore cascades of white and blue. Clever girls from Glorious Green People made themselves gorgeous frocks out of old shopping bags and walked off with quite a few prizes for the most innovative fancy dress.

Parry-Davies is a networker par excellence and organised big name sponsors for each award:

• Biodiversity was sponsored by the Department of Environmental Affairs (won by the Endangered Wildlife Trust)
• Climate change was sponsored by Paarl Media (won by Food and Trees for Africa)
• Eco-Innovation was sponsored by Standard Bank (won by Bottleworx which patented a range of functional PET bottles which can interlock to reduce the transportation footprint and can be re-used as building bricks for houses, classrooms and other functional buildings)
• Energy saving was sponsored by Enviropaedia (won by RISO copiers which are low energy or solar powered – every school in Limpopo should have one)
• Recycling was sponsored by the Plastics Federation of SA (won by Rocking the Daisies for getting youth keen on recycling)
• Sustainable transport was sponsored by Airports Company of SA (won by Rocking the Daisies for organising environment friendly transport to concerts)
• The water award was co-sponsored by SAB and Rand Water (won by EcoWash which has a product that needs only one litre of water compared the usual 250)
• The youth award was sponsored by Pick n Pay (won by Ella Bella of Generation Earth for making ‘green’ issues trendy)
• Simply Green Magazine sponsored the Eco Angel award (won by Marcelle Meredith of the NSPCA)
• SABC3 sponsored the community award (won by Oyster Bay Reserve for reviving the Mossel Bay estuaries as well as uplifting the previously disadvantaged community)
• Sappi sponsored the lifetime achievement award (won by Clive Walker who said, “Never underestimate the effect you can have.”)
• MTN sponsored the Eco Warrior award (won by TV personality, Braam Malherbe of the DOT (Do one Thing) campaign who bounced barefoot onto the stage and said his son told him, “You grownups don’t dream; you just have nightmares. We have to believe that everything is possible.”

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