This time of year is always very nostalgic for me as my daughters were born at the end of April and the beginning of May. It is autumn in Cape Town, a time of pendulum swings in weather, weirdly warm days contrasting with days of rain and crisp more typically wintery weather. I remember the early autumnal time of having a tiny baby, the wonder of this new little being in our lives, figuring out their rhythms and personalities. My mum, who passed when they were very little, always used to say that new babies were like tightly closed rosebuds which then gradually unfurled as they grew into the world.
My daughters have just celebrated their 19th and 16th birthdays, and we are a world away from those autumn days. It is a hard time to be a young person right now after two very challenging years. Young people are calling us to account like never before about the state of the world and the future they are inheriting. This article shared in a Whatsapp group recently really sums it up in its title: “The kids are not okay”.
Ecological economist Julia Steinberger writes: “Teenagers look up to adults (really!), as responsible people who give them guidance and protect them. They see politicians as the adults of the adults. Seeing politicians who know what is going on but not acting, and grown-ups around them the same, is deeply upsetting to them.”
I am deeply privileged through Mycelium to work with people who not only know what’s going on, and endeavour every day to have a clearer understanding, but are acting in every way they can. In these first four months of the year, I’ve spent time and worked with organisations across the African continent determined to realise a vision of resilient food-sensitive cities, through inclusive community action-research; activists and academics reconnecting to and protecting our edible landscapes; researchers using bio-accoustics to measure the impact of climate change on land and marine animals; and powerhouse African environmental researchers working on areas such as soil and agriculture, re-connecting youth to nature, the impact of colonisation, possible futures, and the many flows and faces of water.
Our key work as regenerative storytellers, in all these different spaces, across many different fields, is understanding the nuance, and translating the key stories for a wider audience. There are so many people, of every generation, doing incredible, inspiring work. We get a ringside seat and not only to share a picture of the world they are working for, and encourage others to take part, but discern cross-cutting themes, and stories emerging from the space between. There is a rising understanding that in order to do the work of change we need to first and foremost take care of ourselves and each other. If our work comes from an ethic of care, we can be so much stronger. Part of building a better world is healing and acknowledging. It isn’t easy, but like the birth process, the gifts are immense.
That is the story I would like to tell for my girls. That it is possible to collaboratively build a healthier, more just world, and we did it through curiosity, creativity, courage and care.
Three-quarters of world’s population wants single-use plastics banned
Three-quarters of the world population wants to ban single-use plastics like soft drink bottles, according to a poll published by Reuters and IPSOS. The survey marks an uptick from 71% who favoured a similar action in 2019. The strongest support for a single-use plastics ban came from respondents in Mexico, Colombia, and India, all nations hard-hit by plastic pollution, according to Reuters.
The poll also found that 85% of those surveyed say that manufacturers and retailers should “be held responsible” for reducing the impact of plastic waste. The survey polled 20,000 people from 28 countries. “People worldwide have made their views clear,” Marco Lambertini, director general of the World Wildlife Fund International, told Reuters of the survey. “The onus and opportunity is now on governments to adopt a global plastics treaty so we can eliminate plastic pollution.”
Ninety percent of those polled by the Reuters/IPSOS survey said they want a treaty to tackle plastic pollution, though a treaty could take a variety of forms, from focusing mostly on recycling efforts to broader curbs on plastic production.
Major manufacturers that rely on single-use plastics have publicised commitments that fall into the first category. Coca-Cola, for example, said earlier this month that it would make 25% of the packaging it uses worldwide reusable by 2030. Rival PepsiCo said in September that it would reduce its use of virgin plastic in its packaging. Plastic packaging from food, beverages, and other consumer goods has become common in the environment. It has accumulated in large patches in the Pacific Ocean and can harm the health of humans and wildlife. The problem has become even worse during the pandemic, with single-use plastics from hospitals accelerating pollution.
Gauteng to launch new recycling system to deal with growing e-waste problem
The Gauteng province, in collaboration with the University of Johannesburg (UJ), will launch a new system to manage electronic waste – such as cellphones, home appliances and computers. The province accounts for more than half (55%) of the country’s e-waste, around 360 000 tons per year.
According to the UN’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020, the world produced 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste in 2019. Less than a fifth (17.4%) of e-waste was collected for recycling. Minerals used in these electronics, such as gold, silver, copper and platinum – valued at $57 billion – were discarded. Global e-waste is expected to grow to 74 million metric tons by 2030 as people continue to purchase more electronics, according to the E-waste Monitor. E-waste contains chemicals that can harm the environment, the World Economic Forum highlighted in a blog.
Gauteng’s e-waste management system aims to improve the collection, recycling, and safe electronic waste disposal, UJ said in a statement. It also acknowledged that e-waste could have harmful effects on human lives and the environment. “Apart from helping in educating Gauteng residents on issues of e-waste, the project will also instil a culture of recycling electronics”. Gauteng MEC of e-Government Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko said that apart from addressing environmental concerns, the e-waste management system could present an opportunity for job creation. “The e-waste management system will also assist in inspiring creativity amongst the youth, to be able to recycle and create something meaningful from discarded gadgets. This will further assist in stimulating the economy through SMME support and job creation.”
Professor Saurabh Sinha, deputy vice-chancellor for research and internationalisation at UJ, noted that South Africa and the continent have “massive mountaintops of unused electronic devices”. This is mainly in the form of computers and electrical and electronic waste. The National Environmental Management legislation’s Waste Act recently introduced new rules and responsibilities for producers – known as Extended Producer Responsibility. Producers of any type of product or package need to include more recyclable materials, Business Insider previously reported.
Abalobi documentary wins International Ocean Film Festival Innovation Award
Abalobi’s Coding for Crayfish documentary has received the Innovation Award at the 19th annual International Ocean Film Festival (IOFF) in San Francisco. The festival accepts films of all genres that focus on any of the varied aspects of the ocean, from around the world – with Coding for Crayfish one of just 11 films awarded this year and the only winner from the African continent.
Produced by the Abalobi team and Amehlo Productions’ Karen Logan, Coding for Crayfish tells the story of traditional West Coast fisherman, David Shoshola, whose family has lived in Lambert’s Bay for generations, fishing primarily for the once abundant crayfish, or rock lobster.
In spite of legal limits, unchecked industrial fishing in the 1970s, followed by poaching by gangs from the 2000s, has significantly affected both lobster populations and fisher livelihoods, leaving the fishery on the brink of disaster today. David talks of Abalobi’s disruptive entrance into the industry and how the traceability technology, co-developed with the fishers, has started to transform his career and ultimately, the entire community’s livelihoods.
“The award is amazing recognition for us as an organisation, but even more so for the small-scale fisherwomen and men with whom we work,” says Serge Raemaekers, MD of Abalobi. “They are grateful that their story is being heard and being recognised. There is a desperate need for effective, alternative interventions contrary to disengaging from the rock lobster fishery, and the communities that depend on it. To achieve any form of sustainability, we need to rethink how we get there and have a greater focus on the fishers who rely on marine resources. We have to engage, and reimagine fair, transparent market opportunities.”
Executive director for the festival, Ana Blanco, says that the 11 films awarded prizes this year are deserving of recognition because of the way they stand out in a field of exceptional quality and diversity. “All of our films and filmmakers are standouts and advance our mission of saving our oceans through the beauty and education of the visual medium,” she says.
Coding for Crayfish is available to watch online at codingforcrayfish.com
Growing consumer awareness around sustainability – study
According to a new study, 92% of South Africas say that the topic of sustainability is important to them, yet only 58% claim to be living sustainably. These figures come from the ‘Conscious Consumption’ report released this week by global consumer insights agency InSites Consulting, aimed at assessing consumer sentiment and behaviour regarding sustainability amongst four generations in South Africa. Amongst those consumers acting more sustainably, the majority report to be using up leftovers (86%), limiting water use at home (84%), and mending/repairing household items rather than replacing them (80%).
The ‘sustainability paradox’ i.e. the gap between acknowledgement (92% importance score) and action (42% not living sustainably), must be tackled by brands, according to the 86% of consumers who believe that “companies have a responsibility to take care of the planet”. So, what are the barriers that brands can help consumers overcome? According to the InSites Consulting study, 74% of consumers said sustainable living must be more accessible (i.e. options more widely available); and 60% would adopt a more sustainable lifestyle if it required less time or effort.
Seventy-three percent of South Africans report that they would adopt a more sustainable lifestyle if it was clear which brands are sustainable; this is a call to action for brands. Those that claim to be (more) sustainable are perceived as more trustworthy (62%), more up to date (66%), and providing a higher level of quality (65%), according to South Africans. Unfortunately, 70% of South African consumers have never heard of B Corp Certification, and just 4% have seen the label on packaging.
For those consumers who are aware of brands’ sustainability efforts (or lack thereof), boycotting is one way to express discontent. Eighteen percent of South Africans today report that they have boycotted a brand for sustainability reasons, specifically due to brands lacking gender equality support (24%) and the absence of recycling programmes (24%).
There is a rallying cry from consumers at either end of the awareness spectrum, for better behaviour from brands. “Sustainability is not a problem that governments alone can solve; businesses also have to pull their weight. It is a shared responsibility that needs to be addressed today. Brands need to take up their societal role and take consumers along their journey through active and transparent communication. The time for brands to act is now, because in the end, good business is good business”, says Joeri Van den Bergh, partner and sustainability expert at InSites Consulting.
Conscious Consumption: The South Africa Edition is available to download for free following the event at https://insites-consulting.com/bookzines/conscious-consumption/
DIARISE: One World Media Webinars: 12-19 May 2022
One World Media is presenting a series of workshops over 2 weeks, with in-depth and interactive conversations on producing media from and about Africa. Led by talented filmmakers and journalists, the workshops explore how to develop character-led stories that have wide appeal while bringing new perspectives on stories from and about Africa. Hosted by OWM alumni, speakers will reflect on their own experiences and answer audience questions, as they share tips and guidance on getting their stories in front of an international audience. More information here.
- How to make hard hitting documentaries: In Conversation with Peter Murimi – Tue 17 May, 1pm CAT / 12pm BST
- How to tell solutions oriented stories: In Conversation with Dina Aboughazala – Thur 19 May, 1pm CAT / 12pm BST
DIARISE: World Bee Day: 20 May 2022
The purpose of this international day is to acknowledge the role of bees and other pollinators for the ecosystem. Every year on this day, the global public will focus on the importance of preserving honey bees and all other pollinators. People will be reminded of the significance of bees in providing for the needs of humanity. The practice of beekeeping dates back at least 4,500 years.
20 May is also the birth date of Anton Janša (1734–1773), a Slovenian beekeeper, the pioneer of modern beekeeping and one of the greatest authorities on the subject of bees. The Austrian Empress Maria Theresa appointed him to the post of permanent teacher of apiculture at the new School of Beekeeping in Vienna. He became well known even before his death in 1773. After 1775, all state beekeeping teachers had to teach the subject in accordance with his teachings and methods.
Did you know: Honey has antiseptic properties and was historically used as a dressing for wounds and a first aid treatment for burns and cuts.
DIARISE: International Day for Biological Diversity: 22 May 2022
Biodiversity remains the answer to several sustainable development challenges. From nature-based solutions to climate, health issues, food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity is the foundation upon which we can build back better. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Biodiversity Day 2022 will be commemorated mainly online but there is a WWF list of 22 actions you can take to celebrate the day. Some of these include:
- Go paperless
- Source sustainable food
- Reconnect with nature
- Reuse and upcycle
- Conserve energy
- Volunteer with a charity
Share your films: festivals and screenings
Festival International Nature Namur, Belgium
Born in 1995, the Festival International Nature Namur is now the meeting place for the lovers of nature and beautiful images, bringing together each year more than 35.000 spectators and visitors of all backgrounds! With it’s four international competitions – photos, amateur films, professional films and ultra-short films – and it’s many outdoor activities, it is now placed among the 5 biggest European events of the kind, bringing together each year photographers and filmmakers from around the world. Deadline: May 15, 2022 http://www.festivalnaturenamur.be/
Earth Futures Festival, Australia
The Earth Futures Festival is an exciting new international film and video event showcasing how our scientific understanding and long-lived cultural knowledge of the Earth provide solutions to pressing global challenges – from climate change, the management of our natural resources (water, minerals, energy, soils), transitions to cleaner energy, mitigation of the risks from natural hazards to building sustainable cities. The Festival is in collaboration with the UNESCO International Geoscience Program and supported by the International Union of Geological Sciences, representing over a million geoscientists across the world. Deadline: May 15, 2022 https://www.earthfuturesfestival.com/
Palma Mountain Film Festival, Mallorca
Palma Mountain Film Festival which will celebrate its thirteenth edition in 2022, opens the 2022 call for the competitive section of short films. Films with mountain-related themes: mountaineering, expeditions, climbing, trekking, caving, mountain and adventure sports, ecology, biodiversity, ethnography, etc. are eligible to participate. Deadline: May 31, 2022 https://palmamuntanyafilm.com/
SUNCINE International Environmental Film Festival, Spain
SUNCINE International Environmental Film Festival, formerly known as FICMA, was first held in 1993 and is positioned as the oldest Environmental Film Festival in the world; it is a reference in its genre. SUNCINE is a multi-screen festival (in-person, online and televised). Its primary objective is to promote, disseminate and publicize environmental audiovisual works to raise awareness about the state of the environment, biodiversity and the planet’s sustainability. Deadline: June 1, 2022 https://www.suncinefest.com/en/barcelona
Future cities could be 3D printed – using concrete made with recycled glass
3D printed concrete may lead to a shift in architecture and construction. Because it can be used to produce new shapes and forms that current technologies struggle with, it may change the centuries-old processes and procedures that are still used to construct buildings, resulting in lower costs and saved time. Concrete is made of a mix of cement, water, and aggregates such as sand. We trialled replacing up to 100% of the aggregate in the mix with glass. Simply put, glass is produced from sand, is easy to recycle, and can be used to make concrete without any complex processing. Demand from the construction industry could also help ensure glass is recycled. The Conversation
Investors and startups are focusing on green, sustainable businesses
Numerous South African startups and established companies have invested in vegan and zero waste alternatives to ensure a more sustainable and equitable future for all, which are increasingly available at mainstream outlets and also at bespoke sustainable stores (with online shopping) such as Faithful to Nature, Shop Zero, The Refillery and Nude Foods. If global investors and startups are moving their focus on investment to sustainable and environmentally more-friendly alternatives, shouldn’t you? Mail and Guardian
Yes, you’re consuming microplastics — here’s how much, and what we do and don’t know about the risk
Scientists are certain that humans around the world are ingesting tiny pieces of plastic on a regular basis. Now, they are seeking to understand how the wide distribution of microplastics affects human health and the environment as a whole. Eating a credit card’s worth of plastic — a comparison often used to illustrate estimates that people consume about 5 grams of microplastics a week on average — sounds unhealthy on a very visceral level. Learning that those pieces of plastic could later show up in your lungs is even scarier. Business Insider
Super Sloths and their friends
We are always fans of a fungi fact! Did you know that Sloth hairs have a unique structure that involves microcracks. These microcracks create the perfect environment for algae and fungi to thrive. These fungal species are currently being investigated by microbiologists, parasitologists, and oncologists alike, as some strains are showing uses in treatment for malaria, chagas disease, and even breast cancer. Sloth Conservation
We are loving …
… these initiatives which support our aim of living in a more sustainable world.
Bootlegger Coffee turning its food waste to compost
Coffeehouse Bootlegger Coffee has partnered with food waste management specialist company Ywaste to turn its waste into compost, using an eco-friendly method for the management of food waste through off-site composting. “Now our customers can up their eco-friendly street credibility by buying bags of Bootlegger top soil, potting soil and compost made with their used coffee grounds and organic food waste for just R40 for a bag,” says Bootlegger Coffee Company co-founder and director Pieter Bloem. For every ten bags of compost bought, Bootlegger will donate one bag of compost to a community food garden. “We would like to encourage other restaurants to avoid landfill, make the switch and make a difference in their communities with similar sustainable and eco-friendly approaches,” Bloem says.
Green Economy Climate database
The Green Economy Climate database has been released, developed by GreenCape and the Western Cape Government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the report is a useful tool that contains information on funding opportunities. https://bit.ly/3JSdJD3
Slow activewear from N3YH
Eco-luxe activewear and loungewear brand, N3YH, has introduced a clothing range that is both fashionable and sustainable, combining eco-friendliness with trendiness to result in comfortable, yet stylish outfits. N3YH says it is committed to doing its part in the sustainable slow fashion revolution. The slow fashion revolution can be described as the sister of sustainability. Together, these sister-ideas contribute and ensure a fashion industry which is held accountable for unethically produced clothing. The activewear range consists of leggings, biker shorts, a crop top bra, tank top and jacket. To keep to their sustainability mantra, N3YH produces hair scrunchies from the leftover pieces of fabric. The material is eco-friendly as it is made of upcycled plastic bottles and other everyday waste. N3YH also has a loungewear range, which consists of a matching pant and top set made from soft bio-based bamboo fabric. https://n3yh.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and visit https://myceliumcolab.com/