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Shout-out to our local innovators — the Eco-Logic Awards celebrated community, water waste and cleverly green fashion

Shout-out to our local innovators — the Eco-Logic Awards celebrated community, water waste and cleverly green fashion
The 2023 Eco-Logic Awards took place at Two Oceans Aquarium on 9 November where individuals, organisations, projects, products, and services that positively contribute towards a sustainable world were recognised. (Photo: Supplied)

From waste reclaimers to promising projects, professors and even luxury clothing made from recycled plastic bottles, the winners of South Africa’s 2023 Eco-Logic Awards were recognised for addressing the climate crisis and its resulting environmental challenges with innovation.

Those working to change the behaviours, attitudes and ways of thinking that contributed to the climate crisis and the ensuing environmental issues, came together on 9 November at Two Oceans Aquarium for a glamorously green event that left an inspiring feeling of hope as the world rises to face increasing environmental challenges and disasters. 

These individuals and organisations were recognised with a series of awards for their work in creating a greener and more ecological society in South Africa – work that more often than not goes unrecognised. 

Finalists for the 12 awards dressed according to the theme “glamorously green”, with some brave enough to dress as their alter-ego to show how they connect with nature – be that an eco-warrior, eco-angel or any other nature-based activity.

David Parry-Davies, editor of Enviropaedia and founder of the Eco-Logic Awards, called it a platform to inform customers about environmental issues and to inspire them to contribute to the solution by using their purchasing power to support businesses who genuinely care about creating a sustainable environment and society.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Eco-logic — a new way of thinking that may just help to save humanity and our world

The 2023 Eco-Logic Awards. (Photo: Supplied)

Here are the winners:

  • The Nature Conservation Award was sponsored by Ford Wildlife Foundation, and the winners were:

Gold Winner – Tale Of Two Leopards: Cape Leopard Trust And Endangered Wildlife Trust

Silver Winner – The Centre For Rehabilitation Of Wildlife

Bronze Winner – Grootbos Green Futures Foundation

  • The Climate Change Award was sponsored by Our Burning Planet and the winners were:

Gold Winner – Professor Mary Scholes

Silver Winner – GreenCape’s SA’s Climate Change Champs Project

Bronze Winner – Afrisam

  • The Eco-Innovation Award was sponsored by National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa, and the winners were:

Gold Winner – Urban Surfer

Silver Winner – Wetland-In-A-Box: Vertical Up Flow Modular Constructed Wetland Water Treatment System

Bronze Winner – Ewt: A High-Tech Solution That Saves Threatened Birds From Power Line Collisions

  • The Circular Economy and Waste innovation Award was sponsored by Interwaste, and the winners were:

Gold Winner – African Circular Economy Network

Silver Winner – AECI Women in Waste Management Project

Bronze Winner – Sun International Time Square

  • The Water Conservation Award was sponsored by Rand Water, and the winners were:

Gold Winner – The Water Hub

Silver Winner – Vergelegen Wine Estate

Bronze Winner – JoJo

  • The Eco-Fashion and Lifestyle Award was sponsored by Pick n Pay Clothing, and the winners were:

Gold Winner – The Joinery

Silver Winner – LEVI

Bronze Winner – The Legacy Collection

  • The Eco-Health and Wellness Award was sponsored by Viva con Agua South Africa, and the winners were:

Gold Winner – Esse Skincare

Silver Winner – Soil Organic Aromatherapy

Bronze Winner – The Apothecary Skin & Personal Care range

  • The Eco-Friendly Products Award was sponsored by ElectroLux SA, and the winners were:

Gold Winner – Bokashi Bran

Silver Winner – ProNature Paints

Bronze Winner – Ener-G-Africa, clean cooking stove implementation programmes

  • The Eco-friendly Community Award was sponsored by Danone, and the winners were:

Gold Winner – Backyard Farms

Silver Winner – Kabega Primary

Bronze Winner – Mosselbank River Conservation Team

  • The Eco-Angel Award was sponsored by The Endangered Wildlife Trust, and the winners were:

Gold Winner – Helen Turnbull, CEO Cape Leopard Trust

Silver Winner – Jane Trembath, Korsman Conservancy

Bronze Winner – Jonathan Leeming

  • The Eco-Municipality Award was sponsored by Sasria Insurance, and the winners were:

Gold Winner – Ethekwini Municipality: Transformative Riverine Management Programme

Silver Winner – Cape Winelands District Municipality: C-19 – Snakes And Ladders – Development Of Community Safety

Bronze Winner – City Of Tshwane: Partnerships For Enhanced Disaster And Climate Resilience

  • The Eco-Warrior Award was sponsored by PolyCo SA, and the winners were:

Gold Winner – All Rise Attorneys

Silver Winner – Ntsindiso Nongcavu, Coastal Links

Bronze Winner – Makoma Lekalakala, Earthlife Africa

 

Dr Kevin Winter accepted the Water Conservation Award for the University of Cape Town’s Water Hub. (Photo: Supplied)

Some words from worthy winners

Natalie and Kim Ellis, founders of The Joinery, which won the Eco-Fashion and Lifestyle Award, believe in being kind to the planet and fair to its people, one plastic bottle at a time, by finding solutions to environmental and community issues through design.

The Ellis sisters said they do this by creating luxury products from recycled plastic bottles. They said all their products were made by local sewing co-operatives in South African informal settlements, by upskilled artisans and sustainable production houses.

“Our intense concern for the issue of plastic waste and single-use plastic landing up in our oceans and landfills fuelled us to find solutions to this pressing issue through sustainable textile innovation. We approached local fibre recyclers who helped us on our journey to conceptualise a felt fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. All the plastic bottles that go into our recycled fabric are collected from around South Africa,” they said.

After winning the Gold Eco-Logic Award in the Eco-Fashion and Lifestyle category, the founders said this win spoke volumes about their team’s commitment to sustainability and ethical fashion. “We are on half a million plastic bottles saved from landfills and our oceans to date, and are on a journey to reach one million in the near future.”

Winning the Gold Eco-Logic Award in the Climate Change category, University of the Witwatersrand professor Mary Scholes told Daily Maverick she was honoured to receive the award for her work on systems analysis in soil fertility, food security and biogeochemistry in savannas, plantation forests and croplands, as well as her current work monitoring water pollution, food security, forestry and climate change, and policy implementation in South Africa. 

Scholes has been instrumental in developing a large number of young scientists who are employed in SA in government, industry and academic sectors. She has mentored more than 85 postgraduate students and teaches at postgraduate and undergraduate levels at Wits.

Professor Mary Scholes won the Climate Change Award (Photo: Supplied)

Unfortunate key takeaway

Scholes said a key takeaway from her research was that “South Africa is in an unfortunate position in that temperatures will warm to at least double the global average” and “rainfall will remain very variable but with an increased frequency of extreme events leading to flooding or droughts. It will be difficult to earn a living that will support communities and we need to work together to mitigate risks and prepare all South Africans to be aware and take precautions when weather warnings are issued”.

Dr Kevin Winter accepted the Gold Eco-Logic Award in the Water Conservation category for the University of Cape Town’s Water Hub. He was delighted at the acknowledgement that this work is gaining traction in South Africa as the hub transforms contaminated water using nature-based treatment processes and researches how it can be safely reused to benefit livelihoods and the receiving environment.

Speaking to Daily Maverick, Winter said: “We are learning to work with nature-based processes and not against nature. The Water Hub uses biomimicry to copy natural systems by filtering water, reducing elevated concentrations of nutrients and bacteria, and using this water for productive purposes, for example, irrigating food gardens. Water is the catalyst for supporting all forms of life and livelihood.”

Water reuse is expected to become a significant theme in South Africa’s future. Winter believes we need to learn how this can be done safely and without the addition of chemicals and non-renewable energy. 

The Water Hub is positioned as a living laboratory where researchers have an opportunity to learn by doing and to share their experiences with others who visit the site. Winter said “it is inspiring a new generation of young people to consider careers and opportunities in the water sector”.  

Sifiso Gumbi of Urban Surfer, which won the Eco-Innovation Award (Photo: Supplied)

Sifiso Gumbi, a director of Urban Surfer, which won the Gold Eco-Innovation Award, told Daily Maverick that they work largely in recycling relations by engaging with waste pickers/reclaimers on the ground to identify the challenges faced and find constructive solutions by getting them sponsorships for access to whatever space they need to be integrated into. 

“This award is validation and an incredible honour, but the honour really is taken on behalf of all 150 waste pickers we work with… Ears are starting to open and people are starting to recognise the importance these guys have, not only on the environment, but to the economy as a whole,” he said. 

Gumbi said they are in the process of forming a Waste Reclaimer Organisation across South Africa, supporting 1,000 waste reclaimers by December 2024. He invites the government and the general public to join them on their journey in integrating waste pickers as equal players in the economy and as people. 

The 2023 awards recognised the organisations, projects and people that have adopted eco-logic, who’ve realised that to fix today’s environmental challenges, the thinking patterns and values that produced these challenges have to be replaced with logical alternatives that will benefit people and the planet. DM

The Eco-logic Awards will be broadcast on the Peoples Weather DSTV Channel 180 on 16 December at 8am, 2pm and 8.30pm

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