BioWise, a local NGO that promotes the practice of biomimicry, launched the “Waste Nothing Knysna” campaign in the Greater Knysna area this week.
Executive Director Sue Swain, said the project falls under the Business Unusual approach introduced by BioWise after the Knysna fires in June last year. “We need to completely re-think how we do things rather than just continuing as before. Being bio-wise, or earth savvy, is really not a choice anymore. We can no longer treat our natural resources as unlimited supplies to be over-exploited and used unwisely. Cape Town’s current water situation is a perfect example of how an attitude of perceived unlimited resources can come back to bite you. ”
Swain said that being bio-wise is essentially applying lessons from nature. “In natural eco systems like a forest, resources are used sparingly and nothing is wasted. Everything is locally upcycled and recycled to replenish what was used and collaboration and fostering partnerships is the name of the game. Every organism has a role to play in this, actively contributing to maintaining a healthy, resilient system able to respond and adapt to changing conditions. In such a system there is no pollution and no unemployment. That is our vision for Knysna. “
Waste Nothing Knysna will look at how resources are dealt with across all sectors, i.e. materials, water, space, energy and traditional waste. Swain is tackling this together with a team, Jennifer Tooley, Nicci Rousseau-Schmidt and Nina Ligeti that has been appointed to work alongside her. “This is a long term programme. Phase 1, running from March to September 2018, will primarily focus on creating awareness, facilitating input from the greater Knysna community, identifying resources and expertise and finding seeding ideas to be actioned in phase 2.”
One of the initiatives the programme aims to address is to reduce the 2200 tons of monthly municipal waste that is carted away to be processed in Mossel Bay by half by 2021. Swain said that we have to re-think our waste habits and start seeing waste as a resource: “We have to say no to single-use plastic and unnecessary packaging, support upcycling projects like the bottle bricks and collaborate with residents on other upcycling opportunities. Waste as a resource opens up a multitude of opportunities for SMME’s to convert trash to cash.”
With regards to water, Swain said they are investigating ways to “bring the forest back into Knysna”, to “plant the rain” and harvest our storm water for future use, both at private homes and in municipal areas. “Liaising and working with different interest groups in town is key to our collective success. Initial meetings have been set up with the goal of collaborative input from all sectors of the community. This must be a collective effort from all those in the greater Knysna area. “
Partnering with Edge of Africa, SANParks and the Knysna Municipality, a Knysna Schools competition has been launched as part of the initiative. Also a long term vision, Swain said schools have been invited to begin a journey towards becoming bio-wise, starting with learning how to work more wisely with water and waste with the slogan “It’s not waste until it’s wasted” summing up the approach. “We’ve had a phenomenal response and 15 schools in the area signed up for the competition which closes in September. The prize money is R30 000 each for the winning High and Primary school. The entry fee was “bottle bricks” – empty 2L plastic bottles filled and tightly packed with other plastic and foil packaging like sweet wrappers and chips packets. The schools had to make an equivalent of 10% of the total learner count to qualify, and must use the bottle bricks to make something as part of the competition. “
Concluding, Sue thanked the National Lottery Commission for their funding support. “Without them we would not have been able to launch the project. Our ultimate vision is to be the first bio-wise waste nothing town in Africa, and starting with small steps, with the help of local communities and buy in from our local government, I believe we can make the big leaps necessary to achieve that.
We’re in, are you?”