Mushroom photograph by kind permission of Anton Bernard


Journey through Cape Town’s groundwater with WWF
Annual South African Plastics Recycling Survey results released
Photo Essay: Water filters
World Earth Day: Simple Acts of Green

To diarise
Regenerating after the Cape Town fire: Communitree indigenous plant growing course
Call for Proposals: Sustainable Together
20 May: World Bee Day

Entries now open for 10th Eco-Logic Awards
Benjamin Mkapa African Wildlife Photography Awards Call For Entries
Meatless May Challenge

Interesting reads
‘Sacred forests’ in West Africa capture carbon and keep soil healthy
Satish Kumar: the link between soil, soul and society
Amsterdam Is Embracing a Radical New Economic Theory to Help Save the Environment. Could It Also Replace Capitalism?

We are loving …
Kenyan eco-friendly footwear brand wins sustainable design contest
Pedal powering your parcel delivery
Bag it up! Big changes for plastic

Recognising the Rights of Rivers

Who are Mycelium?  


Photo and text by Jacqueline van Meygaarden

Welcome to our 7th Mycelium newsletter, that continues to share stories, connections and news about inspiring and regenerative solutions to some of our greatest challenges. People across the world celebrated Earth Day on April 22nd, and in my corner, or echo chamber, it seems that many people are aware, reflecting on or acting on the huge challenges we face with biodiversity loss, climate change, pollution, and the impact that humans are having  on this planet, our only earth. But that is just in my little bubble…  Do most people have the bandwidth to mark a day like this? Shouldn’t every day be earth day? In my mind, if we realise that these great environmental problems are connected to our warped economic systems, to poverty, and to social inequality, we can be in a better position to shift something.

A well-timed win for ‘Earth Month’ put South Africa’s wild spaces  in the limelight with the recent success at the Oscars of the South African Netflix original documentary, My Octopus Teacher. The film centres on the rich biodiversity of the Great African Seaforest found along the Cape Town coastline, throwing this unique environment of kelp forests into the international arena. Other than the showing the possibility of a local story with small film crew being able to reach a massive global audience, it can hopefully also boost the urgent need for wild places on our planet to be preserved.

Thanks for being a part of our Mycelium community. Please share your news, your ideas and comments with us. As we start to head into winter in Cape Town, keep the fires burning, in your hearts and minds and in every action you take.

Journey through Cape Town’s groundwater with WWF

Mycelium Media Colab’s watery journey continues… and this time we were searching for the source of springs and peering down borehole pipes, learning about Cape Town’s unique geohydrology! Rising out of our collaborative project which focuses on minimising river and ocean contamination pathways, as well as celebrating people’s relationship with water in and around Cape Town, a new relationship grew with WWF Water Stewardship.

This resulted in Mycelium working with the WWF-coordinated Table Mountain Water Sources Partnership to produce two educational videos that demystify and visualise Cape Town’s groundwater – literally under our feet – and the importance of monitoring groundwater levels over time. Since the drought in the Western Cape and the threat of Day Zero, the increase in borehole water use from businesses and residents has prompted the Water Stewardship Programme at WWF to set up a groundwater monitoring network. Like any renewable resource, if we take out more than is going in over the long term, we risk running out of underground water. Underground water is valuable in times of drought but it’s not an infinite resource.

So how do you make the invisible resource of groundwater tangible and visual to the citizens of Cape Town? With the creative team Jacqueline van Meygaarden and Jemima Spring directing and editing respectively, we also brought in our expert graphic designer Natalie Nolte to produce a series of animated graphics that demonstrate the flows of rainwater; how our water table interacts with lakes and vleis and how the deep and shallow aquifers of this region operate. Our equally talented WWF ambassador Kia Johnson takes you on a journey in the videos, and in the process learns about making her own borehole water level meter.

Cape Town is rich with springs, streams and wetlands and our aquifers are incredible resources for the city. Groundwater is part of the Commons, and to ensure there is a fair share of these freshwater reserves for everyone for a long time, we need to be sparing with its use and find ways for all those relying on this water source to manage it fairly and responsibly.

WATCH: Understanding our groundwater in the Mother City
Practical guide to measuring the water level in your borehole

Annual South African Plastics Recycling Survey results released

Plastics SA, in conjunction with the South African Plastics Recycling Organisation (SAPRO), recently released the annual South African Plastics Recycling Survey, outlining the state of the country’s plastics recycling industry for 2019 through data received from plastics re-processors and packaging industry associations like Plastics SA, Petco and other stakeholders.

The report reveals that in total, 503,600 tonnes of plastic waste was collected for recycling across the country, of which more than half (362,800 tonnes) consisted of packaging. Of this, 352,500 tonnes of plastics was converted back into raw materials in order to manufacture other products in 2019. Although these statistics represent progress, the report notes that South Africa produced almost 1.8 million tonnes of plastic products in the same period.

The largest quantity (70.4%) of recyclables came from landfill and other post-consumer sources. Unlike other countries, recyclables in South Africa are mostly sourced from landfill at a high cost. Plastics recycling also saved an estimated 244,300 tonnes of CO2 in 2019, the equivalent emissions of 51,000 cars in the same year.

There were 288 recycling operations recorded in the country in 2019. Of these recyclers, 52% were based in Gauteng which recycled 60% of the tonnages during the year. The number of larger recyclers (according to tonnes per recycler) were higher in the Western Cape than in other provinces – 11% of the total number of recyclers were based in the Western Cape, recycling 14% of the total tonnages. Recycled tonnages have seen a steady increase in Gauteng in the last three years with most of the end-markets situated in the province.

The survey also noted that recycling rates will increase as brand owners and their manufacturers commit to higher levels of recycled content in their products. Survey findings further revealed that R2,065bn was injected into the informal sector through the purchasing of recyclable plastics waste in 2019, creating 58,750 jobs which included waste pickers and employees of the smaller entrepreneurial collectors.

Photo Essay: Kusini Water Filters

By Lara Taylor

Flying over Johannesburg, I was reminded at how square our towns are and how they could be so much more…

Kusini is a social enterprise and a leader in sustainable water security solutions. Their innovative product range offers a solution to many communities’ needs.

Their filter system uses a combination of nanotechnology as well as macadamia nut shells to filter out unwanted smells, odor and chemicals that make the water undrinkable.

The Kusini water filtration system gives these learners access to clean and safe water and keeps the school from closing due to water bourne illnesses.

Once the water has been filtered, it is sold to the community,  from  the school and the money is fed back into school improvement projects.

To find out more about Kusini’s impact sites, visit their website.

World Earth Day: Simple Acts of Green

Since Earth is the only planet we have right now, it’s important we take care of it. IWhile a few, small actions may not seem to make a big difference, a lot of people doing these actions day-in and day-out, along with many others, will have an impact. The Mycelium founders shared their plans for celebrating World Earth Day:

Jema Spring
I’ll be at spring in Bishopscourt with a group who work with and feel connected to water, as part of a pilgrimage to the springs around the Cape Peninsula, in honour of the water from which Cape Town grew.

Kia Johnson
I plan to refresh my garden as it’s taken a bit of a nose dive lately and add more plants to it ensuring my family is eating mostly out of our garden and just enjoying the feeling of the soft soil in my hands.

Jacqueline van Meygaarden
I’ll be attending the Springlines Pilgrimage at a spring below Kirstenbosch Gardens, celebrating the ‘sources of life’ which are the naturally occurring fresh water springs along Table Mountain. Another Act of Green which I’m committing to is to share more ideas for plant-based meals with friends. I have been eating mostly plant-based for years, (growing up with a vegetarian father), and I get asked a lot about how to do it. So sharing recipes and ideas and giving people inspiration to move away from excessive meat consumption.

Natalie Nolte
My Act of Green has been planting up my veggie garden, feeding the soil with the bokashi from my kitchen waste and beautiful rich, organic compost from Soil for Life. I’ve been using milk which got a bit too lumpy, so I reverted to a very weak dilution of bicarb and water  to counteract the mildew growing on our beautiful marrows that may have been planted a bit late! And keeping my organic green goodness growing in water wise wicking beds, so that I can eat them from my garden, rather than buying from super markets.

Stephanie Swanepoel
I will spend the day at the Ocean View Organics farm working in the indigenous food and medicine garden.

Lara Taylor
After some very busy days of work and feeling a bit ungrounded, I plan to take an early morning walk in the mountains followed by a swim in our magnificent sea and reconnect with my body that is from the same source as the plants and the sea creatures. I will also be giving my neglected plants and mushroom stick some attention!

To diarise: Regenerating after the Cape Town fire: Communitree indigenous plant growing course

First to consider is all the human suffering and anguish caused by this fire. Also, there is now even more work to be done to restore some of the locally indigenous flora and fauna that have been wiped out – some of it teetering on the brink of extinction. If you’re interested in learning how to cultivate locally indigenous plants in your garden that will increase biodiversity and support local wildlife (birds! bees! butterflies!), check out this 3-part course being offered by Communitree.

Through this practical course you will learn the basic principles of restoration and how to apply them to your park and own garden. This course is geared towards people who want to propagate and grow fynbos plants, and green areas within the city – be it their own garden or abandoned public space. There will be three sessions taught:
1) What is fynbos stepping-stone restoration?
2) Growing your own fynbos – propagation workshop
3) Site prep and planting out
Cost: R200 per session

Bursaries available for people from target conservation areas in Woodstock, Salt River and Athlone. Bursaries available for people willing to join gardening work parties in Rosebank/Mowbray on Saturdays. There are two different groups:

WEDNESDAY CLASS: Time slot: 16.00-18.00
Session 1: May 5/ Session 2: May 12/ Session 3: June 23

THURSDAY CLASS: Time slot: 10.00-12.00
Session 1: May 6/ Session 2: May 13/  Session 3: June 24

You should care for your plants between Session 2 and 3. We will plant out during Session 3 in a public space. The first two sessions are taught at Communitree’s offices in Rosebank, Cape Town (social distancing practices will be in place). The third session will take place in a fynbos stepping stone garden within Rosebank. Space is limited, sign up now. Please contact us at or reach out to Paul via Telegram at 072 692 7404.

TO DIARISE: Call for Proposals: Sustainable Together

Together, the Goethe-Institut South Africa and British Council South Africa are supporting research and development into the area of sustainable futures, with a specific focus on community-based practice and collaboration. This open call invites South Africa-based organisations, collectives and creative practitioners to explore a self-identified research question or line of enquiry, with a specific focus on the design of community based, sustainable solutions for all. We would like applicants to self-identify a question that they propose to use the grant of R100.000 to explore, plus provide detail about why it is relevant and who they would like to collaborate with throughout the project. We are especially looking for lines of enquiry that have a practical output with a tangible impact. More info: Deadline is 16 May 2021.

TO DIARISE: 10th Eco-Logic Awards

Hosted by The Enviropaedia, the 10th annual Eco-Logic Awards recognise South Africa’s eco-champions. Free to enter, the closing date is 31 May. The categories are Nature Conservation, Climate Change, Eco-Innovation, Recycling and Circular Economy, Water Conservation, Eco-Fashion and Lifestyle, Eco-Health and Wellness, Eco-Community, Eco-Hospitality and Tourism, Eco-Angel and Eco-Warrior.

TO DIARISE: 20 May: World Bee Day

To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, the UN designated 20 May as World Bee Day. The goal is to protect bees and other pollinators in order to contribute to solving problems related to the global food supply and eliminate hunger in developing countries. FAO is organizing a virtual event via Zoom on 20 May 2021 under the theme “Bee engaged: Build Back Better for Bees”.

TO DIARISE: Benjamin Mkapa African Wildlife Photography Awards Call For Entries

African Wildlife Foundation and Nature’s Best Photography have opened a ‘Call for Entries‘ for the Benjamin Mkapa African Wildlife Photography Awards. Participants have til June 18, 2021 to submit photos for consideration. Professional, Amateur, and Youth (18 and younger) photographers across the globe are invited to enter.

TO DIARISE: Meatless May Challenge

The ProVeg Veggie Challenge is a great way to learn more about the personal and planetary benefits of a plant-based diet. The 30 day email campaign will likely answer all of the questions that you have about reducing meat consumption and you will also get a plant-based recipe delivered into your inbox daily. Sign up here


‘Sacred forests’ in West Africa capture carbon and keep soil healthy

In parts of West Africa, patches of forest have been preserved for long periods of time because of their cultural or religious significance. These “sacred forests” are believed to be inhabited and protected by gods, totem animals or ancestors. Not only are they culturally valuable and biodiverse, these ancient forest remnants are crucial to the fight against climate change. The Conversation

Satish Kumar: the link between soil, soul and society

Satish Kumar wants us to understand the connection between soil, soul and society and drop ego in favour of eco.  We are members of one Earth community and need a new trinity that is holistic and inclusive, that embraces the entire planet and all species upon it. So I propose a new trinity of soil, soul, society. Soil represents the entire natural world. The Guardian.

ALSO WATCH: Kiss the Soil on Netflix

Amsterdam Is Embracing a Radical New Economic Theory to Help Save the Environment

In April 2020, Amsterdam’s city government announced it would recover from the COVID-19 and avoid future crises, by embracing “doughnut economics.” Laid out by British economist Kate Raworth, the theory says 20th century economic thinking isn’t equipped for 21st century reality of a planet teetering on the edge of climate breakdown. Time


… these initiatives which support our aim of living in a more sustainable world.

Kenyan eco-friendly footwear brand wins sustainable design contest

Pine Kazi, a women-led shoe design house based in Kenya, is the winner of Fashionomics Africa’s sustainable fashion competition. The fashion company converts pineapple leaf and recycled rubber into fashionable footwear. Fashionomics Africa is an initiative of the African Development Bank, designed to increase Africa’s participation in the global textile and fashion industry value chains, with an emphasis on women and youth. Fashionomics Africa

Pedal powering your parcel delivery

App delivery service Dash Deliveries, founded by Marvin Muller and Caleb Thring, is a new way to move your parcels from A to B with zero emissions. Dedicated to delivery of products purchased on the internet and specialising in catering services and express courier, all by bike. They provide same-hour delivery that’s 100% eco-friendly, within a 20km radius. Find Dash Deliveries in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Umhlanga and Ballito.

Bag it up! Big changes for plastic

Amendments were made to the National Environmental Management Act and the National Environmental Management: Waste Act on 7 April that will ensure that plastic bags must include recycled content or ‘post-consumer recyclate’ material in their manufacture to promote a circular economy. Plastic carrier bags and plastic flat bags must be made from a minimum of 50% post-consumer recyclate from 1 January 2023, 75% of recycled materials from the start of 2025 and must comprise 100% post-consumer recyclate from 1 January 2027.


Recognising the Rights of Rivers

From Bolivia to New Zealand, rivers and ecosystems in at least 14 countries have won the legal right to exist and flourish, as a new way of safeguarding Rights of nature laws, allowing residents to sue over harm on behalf of lakes and reefs. This has seen “a dramatic increase” in the last dozen years, said the Earth Law Center, International Rivers and the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice. Read more and sign the declaration.

Pink oyster mushroom by Jema SpringThank you for reading our monthly newsletter! Please share this with like-minded friends or join our conversations on Facebook and Instagram.

The world is facing an unprecedented crisis, significant environmental degradation, deepening social inequality and economic collapse. These interlinked crises are exacerbated by man-made climate change. We will only overcome these challenges and be able to bring about a sustainable and regenerative world by working together to rebuild our connections and relationships with natural systems, and with each other. Mycelium is a collaboration of multi-media content creators focused on showing what a sustainable and regenerative world could look like, and how to get there. We do this by raising awareness and showcasing examples, and by growing the number of practitioners able to support this mission.Our values are based on those of the

International Co-operative Alliance: self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. We also embrace the values of collaboration, honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. Our value system acknowledges the need to combat the significant levels of inequality in South Africa, particularly those related to race and gender. We have chosen to work through the cooperative model because it offers economies of scale and scope, increased bargaining power, a space for learning, and the ability to offer value to our members and broader society.

Membership to the Mycelium Media Colab is open to multimedia storytellers, artists and regenerators that share our vision collaborative and transformative change. It offers a networking and support space for members to share skills and inspiration, and creatively cross-pollinate, as well as a platform and organisational structure for projects that require a team.  Ownership of projects is shared between the creators and the co-operative. Contact for more information and visit