Running your life and your business in an Eco-Logical way pays off

Ask the winners of the 2011 inaugural Eco-Logic Awards whether being recognised for their contribution has made a difference in their personal and business lives, and a resounding “yes” would be the answer.

Mariette Liefferink, who won the title of Eco -Warrior at last year’s awards, believes that this award has played a vital role in contributing to environmentalism becoming part of the agenda for transformation and poverty reduction. As the CEO of Federation for a Sustainable Environment and “go-to woman” on what’s going on behind the scenes of the mining industry she says:  “NGO environmental activity in the past ignored inconvenient truths. Usually environmental activism took the form of backing nature conservation, elevating the protection of charismatic animal and plant species and landscapes – but ignored the high levels of social exclusion, inequality and environmental degradation in South Africa.”

Often groups are labelled as “antiheros”, she continues and says this kind of recognition is a progressive paradigm shift. “While whistleblowing of destructive environmental activities is an important part of environmental activism, we believe in being proactive too – through helping to find solutions; organising awareness campaigns and finding  ways to work with destructing parties. An important part of what we do is preventative by responding timeously before something happens.”

Mike Kerr, founder of Animal Outreaches and winner of the Eco-Angel Award in 2011 is a shining example of the power of one. Everyone and every organisation – big or small – has the power to make a difference and Kerr is the voice for all God’s furry creatures.

Having worked with various animal charities for 12 years Kerr was so moved by their circumstances that he founded the non-profit organization, Animal Outreaches. The organisation, now in its fourth year, works in impoverished rural areas in and around Port Elizabeth.

“Winning the Eco-Angel Award captured the hearts of people and organizations all over the country. We receive boxes of donated goods from all over for our township outreaches. When an Award can bring people together to help the underprivileged and those without voices it does not get any better than that.”

Describing his organisation Kerr continues; “We are the voice for all God’s furry creatures,who have been neglected, abused and abandoned, and we assist impoverished communities in taking care of their animals. Dogs, cats, horses …you name it, if it has four legs and fur we care for it!” Volunteers inoculate, dip and treat animals and arrange for sterilisation and treatment of minor ailments.

However, what started as an “animal only” charityquickly expanded to the elderly, children and burn victims.

“I could not ignore, on our weekly trips to the townships, the starving people, abandoned children and victims of shack fires which are so prevalent.  We also hand out blankets and food and assist people with getting medical treatment,” adds Kerr.

From animals to events, it’s hard to believe that a music event could be contributing to sustainability but “Rocking the Daisies”, winner of the Climate Change Award shows that it is not either sustainability or a good time – both can be achieved together.

Director Marc Bright says that the event has benefitted greatly from the recognition. “It’s good to know that we can bring about exposure for a serious topic in a fun and exciting way”, he says. “Comparing our efforts against others and introducing a bit of healthy competition is not a bad thing when the big winner is the environment.”

Rocking the Daisies is an annual 3-day music festival that showcases local and international performers across all genres.  With a captive audience of 12 000 impressionable young individuals who get to experience an entire weekend of the most environmentally responsible playing possible, the organisers have shown that  people are more susceptible to changing their perceptions and habits when approached in a cool, creative and exciting way.

” We are climate change leaders because we are aiming our green messaging at our youth leaders. We have been successful in creating an environment that is inspiring, thought provoking, fun, playful and at the end of the day, entertaining. Rocking the Daisies proves you can be both sustainably responsible and have a good time.”

This underlines the role that the youth play in creating a sustainable future, and Tanya Meyer is a prime example of youth leadership .  Winner of the Eco-Logic Youth Award in 2011 it is evident that her passion is spreading fast.

This inspiring 15 year old has already been recognised for her environmental achievements. She won the National Geographic Kid’s Young Conservationist Award, has been interviewed by 50/50 and attended the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen as one of five South African Youth Ambassadors.

“Ever since I can remember I chose pets above Barbies. Creating my own lab, saving drowning insects from the pool, bird-watching and rescuing bees from classrooms were my daily activities”, she says. From starting an Eco Club at school, initiating an Eco Wall with tips for sustainable living, an owl project that saw the school yard being used to re-establish owls back into the area and a school recycling and vegetable garden project over the years, Tanya’s impact has extended beyond her school. Her passion has seen her tackling larger projects with greater impacts.

After receiving the coveted Eco-Logic Award last year, Tanya started her own brand, Teco (it stands for Tanya-Eco). “I also created my own website which I update regularly (www.tanyaeco.co.za) where I include essential information which will help people in making Ecological choices. I aim to use Teco in future to raise awareness and start projects promoting Ecological living.”

“Take what you need and no more” is her mantra and she uses this phrase to encourage people to consider when making choices which could potentially impact our planet, no matter how insignificant the choices may seem.

Wining the Biodiversity Award in 2011, has given The Diamond Route the recognition it so rightfully deserves. Launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, it links nine sites as a holistic project. Through ecosystems and species conservation, the development of urban conservation, water management and climate change initiatives, the Diamond Route is a magnificent national and international project. 

“Winning the Eco-Logic Biodiversity Award proves how biodiversity conservation thrives with private support and commitment. The Diamond Route has become an important feature of the South African conservation landscape, leaving an important legacy for future generations. The Award has assisted The Diamond Route in cementing its position in our society.” ”, says Duncan MacFadyen, Manager of Research and Conservation

The multi-faceted project includes more than 120 natural research programmes on the various route properties as well as ongoing research with four universities. Literacy and capacity-building for staff, programmes for school groups from disadvantaged communities on the reserves; and the generation of employment are all components that made The Diamond Route the winner in the biodiversity category.

If you think you have what it takes to be a winner at the 2012 Eco-Logic Awards then enter online at   www.enviopaedia.com or call 021 821 9922. Entries close on August 24, 2012.

An initiative of The Enviropaedia, hosted in association with SABC3 entries have been extended to 24 August.. All individuals, organisations and communities that practice eco-logical thinking and values through a product, service or initiative that helps protect and preserve the Earth and its eco-systems can enter.

Other categories for the 2012 Eco-Logic Awards include water conservation, energy saving, transport, recycling, climate change, youth, the Eco-Angel Award, the Eco-Warrior Awards for individuals; the Eco-Innovation, Eco-Community and Lifetime achievement awards.  Winners will be honoured at a “Glamorously Green” Gala Dinner at The Cradle of Humankind in Maropeng in September. Sponsors include SAB Miller, ACSA, Avis, RISO, Rand Water and Plastics SA. Guests at the Awards are invited to dress up-up-up , to reflect how they relate to and care for Nature. The most ‘gloriously green ‘dressed people stand to win great prizes including 2 nights for 2 people at Pafuri Camp, exclusive private Game reserve. What will you wear to the Eco-Logic Awards?  

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