Presentation to the Pilot Team for the City of Cape Towns Responsible Tourism Pilot Project

I was asked to do a presentation on what Recycling means to us at the City of Cape Town’s Responsible Tourism Pilot Project – Some of the challenges we encounter (like having to get up in front of a group of people and speak has to be my biggest challenge!) – the good the bad and the difficult obstacles that we endure daily. Afterwards I was asked by some of the delegates to share my thoughts so I thought if anyone wants to have a gander they could find it here on our blog. So here goes……
Where do I start ??? there’s so much to do – it all seems so overwhelming- just thinking about recycling can send anyone into a depression.
Here are some suggestions: Start small take one step at a time. I can guarantee, you will fail along the way but don’t give up!
You might start to find yourself buried under plastic bottles, bins full of them, alley ways full of them and not know how to stop the huge wave of them, being scared to stop selling water as it means you could lose a huge revenue stream.
Finding space where to put all the stuff that quickly gathers a momentum of its own.
The look and feel of recycling –it is so hard finding something hip and funky to put it in so your guests actually see it and use it. It sort of does have to be in your face and even then it’s a challenge to put the cigarette stompies (butts) in the ashtray provided!!
Finding the right company to recycle with – this takes time and money and has teething problems! Eventually you might find the right company that works for you. Stick with them as long as possible they are like hens teeth.
The cost of recycling or being green – is not always cheap. In fact it’s really rather expensive especially when you retrofit and not custom build. Trying to work out if you are ever going to recoup the money you spent – you probably won’t for next umpteen years but you will sleep better and know you have shown your kids, your friends and your parents a different way.
Educating yourself and your staff is a huge challenge. Using the recycling in the best possible way and not the laziest easiest way. For example I had a look in the Sappi bin the other day when the team was filming at the Backpack (for the RT workshop video) and we needed “waste paper” to put in the bin and found it full of very expensive brochures that would be quite fine to be back on the shelf and used again. At a cost of about R35.00 per brochure I am sure all the travel companies would love it if all their outlets were able to recycle brochures. Our staff are happy to put them in the bin and “recycle” them to the paper trash. That is the easy way out. That is not the idea behind recycling.
Some things we wouldn’t do again:
Buy the can crusher that cost an arm and ten legs without seeing it fully operational!
The solar lights at the home fair exhibition that work for the duration of the show but not once installed along your footpath.
Start on all fronts and go big. It’s about being sustainable. So if it means getting those Sappi bins in, collecting bottle tops or starting a worm farm with just a few bins do that.
Highlights
You feel great!!!You get to meet the coolest people – look around here. I love my egg man and his wife they are such lekker people – they deliver the eggs and take back the trays, my friend’s sister who makes our organic cleaning products and the guy who comes to fetch our oil to make his diesel. Perhaps it is because we are small compared to the big hotels that we can use people that can’t handle big companies – we know those suppliers and trust in what they are doing, that they are coming from the same ethos as us.
Once you start cutting down and you do manage to do a lot of things better it’s such a natural high. You can’t beat the feeling!
We are making a better place for everyone. Since I have started on our journey at work I have carried this into my home and don’t buy from big chain stores as much as I used to with all the packaging that we pay for and then it becomes our responsibility to dispose of it.
Create jobs and awareness not only recycling jobs but crafting (e.g. bottle tops and coke cans) community cooking as in start up tours in the Bo Kaap – who ever thought we would be making cook sisters with Tannie Aminah in her kitchen 10 years ago!
People who inspire me
1. Firstly it’s my business partner Toni as she is never scared of a challenge – she has taught me that it’s no shame to fail and have tried. And boy I can tell you there are many things forgotten along the way that we tried and failed at but eventually you will find the way that is right for your company.
2. Paula Thompson from Woza Moya –who started a respite centre for people who came to die and then when they got better had to create work for them to keep them sustained and started her beading project and food garden there are now over 200 crafters there.
3. Rosie from Baphumelele – who we have watched grow exponentially and when you see that little baby girl of two months old being fed, burped and loved makes you feel you are never doing enough!
4. Pat Featherstone – who is a wonderful gardener and awesome teacher and if you ever get the chance do a weekend course with her at Soil For Life don’t hesitate do and take everyone in your family your children, your housekeeper your gardener as her classes are understandable by everyone.
5. Road trips through South Africa – take the back roads, the road less travelled -they are so inspiring, so creative and so exciting.

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