Entries tagged with “recycling”.


We are invited to many events, and initially I thought that driving out to Airport Industria for the media visit to Green Planet Laundry last week was not something I would write about on my Blog. I was so impressed with the brand new water and electricity efficient industrial, commercial, and residential laundry operation that I would like to give it credit.  (more…)

Clifton beachA new tourism marketing scheme has been launched by the Department of Tourism to assist accommodation establishments to become graded and finding new clients, and to encourage them to go green, a total of investment of R600 million over the next three years.

At the launch of the Tourism Incentive Programme by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom earlier this week, he shared that the growth rate of the tourism industry is faster than that of the country’s economy.  It is for this reason that the Programme has been launched, to grow the tourism sector, and to transform it to make it more inclusive and sustainable.   Investing in tourism businesses will benefit the economy, (more…)

Aluminium Jordan branding Whale CottageAn invitation from Waterford Communications to attend a function of the Guala Closures Group, the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA), and South African aluminium producer Hulamin sounded interesting in terms of content. Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant shortlist Jardine at Jordan as function venue was an added attraction.  A passionate case was made for the benefits of using aluminium closures for wine bottling.

On  arrival we received a glass of Jordan The Real McCoy Riesling 2014 andAluminium Duck pate Facebook duck paté canapés, which were served with passion fruit jelly, and prune purée, on brioche.  Buffalo milk mozzarella, confit tomato and basil was also served as a canapé.  We sat at large round tables, covered with brown table cloths and a white overlay.  We received a bread platter, which included ciabatta, Cape seedloaf, and vetkoek, served with porcini butter, watercress pesto (with overpowering garlic), and aoili.

A number of parties with an interest in the use of aluminium in screw caps and closures was present at the (more…)

I should have known that going to the Stellenbosch Slow Market at Oude Libertas yesterday would bring on claustrophobia, it being the fullest I have ever seen this popular market, and one that I had sworn that I would never go back to again.  The announcement of the winners of the 2012 Eat In DStv Food Network Produce Awards was the reason for my visit, and once I had received a copy of the magazine with the winners’ names, and tasted some of their produce, it was a good time to leave.

Given the increased passion for food preparation, spurred by cooking programs such as MasterChef Australia and now our own South African reality TV cooking show, as well as the recession reducing the frequency of eating out, buying healthy produce to use and eat at home is becoming increasingly popular.   Five years ago Eat In, sister publication to Eat Out, which presents the annual Top 10 Restaurant awards, was launched by New Media Publishing. The magazine’s Awards ‘aim to acknowledge and celebrate outstanding independent South African producers for their integrity, passion and innovation’. The crucial criterion is that the produce is South African grown, and added criteria were that the products are produced ethically in terms of the workforce, and in an environmentally responsible manner.  The winners were judged (more…)

The Green Point Park, which opened about two weeks ago, and which will receive its official blessing from the Mayor of Cape Town Dan Plato today, has transformed the area previously known as the Green Point Common into one of the most charming parks in Cape Town, making it a treasure not only for the citizens of Cape Town, but also to its visitors, and to future generations.

The Green Point Common was previously a home for the homeless, and this brought down the tone of Mouille Point and also was a danger to locals walking in the area.  In conjunction with the construction of the new Cape Town Stadium, and the redevelopment of the Metropolitan golf course, the City of Cape Town redeveloped the 12,5 ha area at a reported cost of close to R600 million, renaming it the Green Point Park.   The conditions of the development of the Park were that it be safe, that the golf course and the Park appear integrated and almost seamless, that the Park be accessible to physically challenged citizens, and that sufficient parking be made available.  All of these conditions have been admirably met, so much so that one can feel proudly-Capetonian in how well our rates and taxes have been spent in developing a park with a heritage, that will be of benefit to future generations too.

The major focus, which makes it so interesting, and having an educational angle too, is the Biodiversity showcase, the gardens having been developed along ecological principles and includes indigenous landscaping.  Recycling is part of the showcase, and bins for waste, plastic, metal and glass are available at each of the Park entrances.   To focus on best environmental practices, water from the historic Oranjezicht springs on the slopes of Table Mountain has been redirected to water the gardens, and is sufficient to cater for the irrigation needs of the Park all year round, explains the Cape Town Stadium website www.stadiumcapetown.co.za

The Green Point Park has bricked pathways on which Capetonians and their children can cycle, walk with or without their dogs, run, do exercises, read a book, use their skateboards, and meet friends safely, with security staff visible.   One can also bring a picnic basket and enjoy the beautiful views onto Signal Hill, Cape Town Stadium, Mouille Point, and the golf course.  It is planned that one can host functions at the park (a marquee is already in place for the opening function today), and that outdoor events such as markets and concerts will be held in this beautiful, largely wind-protected space.   A biodiversity nursery, a tea garden, fresh produce markets, flower sellers and bicycle rental are said to be on the cards.

But the educational side of the Park is an excellent benefit for teaching children as well as their parents about Biodiversity, and how one can develop a garden that is environmentally friendly, and does not threaten biodiversity.  Biodiversity is defined as “amazing variety of life on earth”, and is threatened by agricultural development, fire, urban development and invasive plants. The Park has a food garden, one for medicinal plants, and a demonstration garden.  Fauna is represented by buck, rabbits, and more animals, in metalwork in-between the plants.  The Park teems with bird life.  Information boards explain how the Khoikhoi sought berries in the veld, used claypots to make their variation of “potjiekos” in those days already, roasted and baked their food, and made tea from bushes.  

But the history of Cape Town is also explained in an interesting manner, with huts built by the Khoikhoi, and their food types and herbal remedies explained.   Medicinal plants such as wildeals, blousake, kooigoed, Devil’s Claw and more were used to treat aches and pains, colds and other ailments. 

 It would be wonderful if a handout with information about the Green Point Park would be made available, and a website be developed for it.  I initially struggled to find the entrance to Green Point Park.  There are five entrances: the West entrance is close to CafeNeo, the East entrance is off one of the parking areas of the Cape Town Stadium, the Southern entrance is near the Virgin Active, an entrance is off Bay Road, and another is behind the Sea Point police station.   The Green Point Park is open from 7h00 – 19h00 Mondays – Sundays, and entrance is free.  

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com   Twitter: @WhaleCottage

A new guided tour of the wine farms, focusing on those wine estates that are ‘green’, organic, support biodiversity and generally care for nature, has been launched.  Eco Wine Tours is a joint venture between Charles Lourens of BottlePillowPlate and Pieter Geldenhuys of PG TOPS, and drives to the Winelands every Wednesday.   The tour raised the question amongst its participants as to how each one of us can make a difference too, and recycling is the first obvious step.

The tour highlighted how much work is being done by individual wine estates to give something back to nature, and how each of them do something (often more than one action) to ensure that their farming practices do not add to the carbon overload the world already faces.   It is clear that this good work is being done out of a genuine interest in and love for the environment, rather than for marketing purposes.  It also indicated what diversity there is in being a ‘green’ wine estate, with the wide range of different actions wine estates undertake to be environmentally friendly, each following their own way.  The highlights of our tour, on a grey wintry day yesterday, were the following:

Avondale  is outside Paarl, and attracted attention with its ads featuring naked persons in the vineyards, as well as their famous ducks.  Due to a fire in 1999, the wine farming practices of the estate were turned on their head, and the new cellar that was built, the grape farming as well as all aspects of production were changed to meet an environmentally friendly and non-mass production philosophy.  The welcome we received from Jonathan, the warm crackling fireplace in the tasting room, and the enthusiasm shown to our group was impressive.   Avondale focuses on the natural balance of the environment, and believes in feeding the soil, and not the vines.  No herbicides, pesticides and fungicides are used at all, and its workforce of more than 100 ducks is employed to eat snails and other pests, to maintain the ecological balance.  They apply natural farming methods, and focus on premium quality wine production, of which organic wine is an end-result, and not the other way round. 

They have branded their work as “BioLogic”, reflecting that they use organic and biodynamic farming methods and with that want to restore the land to what it would have been centuries ago, and want to keep in balance what nature has given the wine estate.  We drank their wonderful spring water, tasting as fresh as water can.  Using gravity, Avondale irrigates its vines from its six natural dams.   Grey water is re-used, not by adding chemicals but by adding yeast.  A minimum 40mm of sulphur is added to the wine just before bottling.   Weeds are used positively, to control the soil.  They indicate what is needed to improve the quality of the soil.  Wasps are hooked up in the vineyards, where they hatch, and they take care of the mieliebugs.   Special owl houses have been made from wine barrels to house the collection of owls, who take care of rodents and snakes on the estate.  Increasingly, Avondale  is seeing small buck and lynx coming back to the estate.  Gravity is used in the cellar to reduce the usage of electricity as much as possible.  A natural riverbed runs alongside the cellar, and its clay bottom ensures that the cellar is naturally cold without any airconditioning, even on 45 C days in Paarl.  Avondale only uses pumps for its bottling.   Salt water is brought in, and the salt extracted from it, to add to the soil, salt containing 90 nutrients.  Cover-crops, such as lupins, are planted to create an eco-system, adding nitrogen to the soil.  On good weather days guests are driven into the vineyard, and one tastes the wine in the vineyard block from which it is made.

The Avondale MCC Brut is the only organic sparking wine in South Africa.   Other wines in the Avondale range are Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc (organic), The Weir Chardonnay, Rosé (organic), Jonty’s Ducks (organic), Julia, Camissa Syrah, The Owl House Cabernet Sauvignon, Graham, Muscat Blanc, Les Pleurs Chenin Blanc and Les Pleurs Merlot.  Prices start at R58 for the Rosé and Chenin Blanc, up to over R 200 for the Les Pleurs range.  A new advertising campaign is to be launched, and the naked ladies will no longer feature, but the ducks will.  The wine estate impressed in being the only one to provide a folder of information, summarising its wine farming philosophy (“Wines approved by Mother Nature”), combining natural farming with 21st century science, technology and research.  The organic certification comes from the Dutch Control Union, and is accredited by Bio Nach EG-Öko Verordnung( Germany), Soil Association (UK) and USDA (USA). 

The Avondale building is mock Cape Dutch and its interior is too.  It is a very spacious building, and its interior is functional but not as attractive as that of many other wine estates.  It probably demonstrates that the wines, the farming methods and wine production are the heroes at Avondale.   A most impressively green wine estate.

Backsberg is well-known for its work in enhancing its carbon footprint, but until my visit I was not sure what it was doing, other than that it had recently launched its “Tread Lightly” range of wines in a plastic bottle.  Simon Back traced the history of the farm, to 1916, when his grandfather CL Back had bought the farm, first farming fruit before switching to grapes.  All grapes were sent to the KWV in early days, and it was Simon’s grandfather Sydney who made the first wines at Backsberg in the Sixties.   Michael Back, Simon’s father, studied viticulture and winemaking, and is the passionate owner who is driving the environmentally friendly approach of Backsberg.  He is currently attending a conference in Rio de Janeiro on renewable energy.  Backsberg became so passionate about being environmentally responsible about its wine farming, production and sales that it started by measuring the impact its operation has on the environment, in terms of fuel usage, water and electricity, and many more factors that they could quantify.  The CO2 emissions caused by their operation is offset by a dedicated program to restore their carbon footprint by tree planting, and by changing how they do things.  Energy-saving light bulbs are used; holes were cut in the roof to let in natural light; Michael drives a Ford Bantam bakkie because it is less environmentally damaging and lighter on fuel than a heavy-weight one; fresh dam water is used to cut out on refrigeration costs; smaller tractors are used; barrelwood is re-used and furniture made from it, which is for sale;  a massive counter was made from barrelwood; light-weight glass bottles are used, now weighing 450g compared to the previous 650g; the 50g plastic bottle is a huge step forward, and all indications are that the market is accepting the new ‘Tread Lightly’ range, the first wine brand to use plastic bottles in South Africa, and follows France and Australia as countries that are using such bottles with success.  The long-term goal is to become completely energy self-sufficient in future.  Simon says that the debate that may have been generated about the advisability of using plastic bottles is similar to the one five years ago of using screw caps on wine bottles.   The plastic bottles can be recycled.  A glass-blowing pair of brothers re-uses Backsberg bottles in its glass art. 

The Tread Lightly brand is exactly the same wine as is in the glass bottles, with a shelf life of two years.   Its range consists of Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, and is only sold through Pick ‘n Pay, at R49,99 and R39,99, respectively.  The Backsberg range is extensive, and consists of the Backsberg Family Reserve Range, a Kosher range, Sydney Back brandy range, Hanepoot, Port, a Mediterranean Range (Aldorina, Bella Rosa and Elbar),   Black label Range (Sparkling Brut MCC, John Martin, Pumphouse Shiraz, Klein Babylonstoren) and the Premium Range (Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rosé, Dry Red, Pinotage, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon).  Wine prices start at R31 for the Chenin Blanc, Rosé and Dry Red, up to R 161 for the Backsberg Family Reserve Red Blend.

We were surprised at how old-fashioned things appear at Backsberg in terms of its building and interior, but perhaps it is environmentally friendly to leave the buildings in the way they have always been.  The dedication to the environment is clear and they are saluted for this.   No written information was supplied proactively, and the pricelist does not contain any contact details, should one wish to order or have queries.

Mooiplaas  needs perseverance to get to in terms of its bumpy road, but again this may be a sign of the environmental orientation of this wine estate.  Tielman Roos is a passionate co-owner of the farm, and says that there is a lot of confusion about environmentally-friendly farming. One can farm organically, follow the guidelines of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative launched by Wines of South Africa, and/or follow the Integrated Production of Wines of the University of Stellenbosch.   The challenge is to use farming methods that harm the environment (like spraying) and then to offset this with environmentally friendly actions.  He explained that there was no point in farming in a purely organic way and then lose one’s crop in not having sprayed.  It is the carbon footprint that counts.  Mooiplaas does this in having created a private nature reserve of Renosterveld on the farm, which can never be used for wine farming.  He said: “We must be responsible to keep our business in business”.  South Africa has the oldest soils in the world, and this makes its biodiversity so special.   Tielman challenged every wine farmer to dedicate 5-10 % of the farm to indigenous plants, to so contribute to the environment.   The Mooiplaas wines carry the ‘Integrity and Sustainability’ seal on the neck of its bottles, and gives traceability to that particular wine. 

The wine estate has a beautiful historic manor house, built in 1833, hidden from the tasting room.  The tasting room feels environmentally friendly, its floor made from rocks and cement (making for a very uneven walk) and walls that show the original building style, only partly plastered.   It is a “plaas” winefarm, with little that shows modernity, except for a good brochure lying in the Tasting Room, and for Tielman’s dedication to the environment.   He organises walks through the nature reserve.  The Mooiplaas range consists of Langtafel Wit, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Langtafel Rosé, Pinotage, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Rosalind and Duel MCC, ranging in price from R32 – R 127.

Signal Hill Winery is in the middle of the city, in Heritage Square, and our guide Kyle Zulch clearly loves his job, demonstrated by his enthusiasm and generosity in the tasting.  He took the group to the pavement, where he disgorged a bottle of their MCC, the process that bubbly producers use to take the lees off the MCC before labelling and corking the bottle.  The grapes for their wines come from vines on pockets of land in Cape Town (Camps Bay, Kalk Bay and Oranjezicht), leading to a small quantity of only 6 barrels produced.  In addition, grapes are bought in from Stellenbosch, Constantia and Somerset West.  Kyle and Signal Hill Winery founder Jean-Vincent Ridon are passionate about ‘fighting urbanisation’, and are looking for more pockets of land in the city on which they can plant vines.   The Premier’s residence Leeuwenhof may become a mini-wine farm soon too. They clean up weeds by hand, rather than the quick and easy spraying method, have an earthworm farm, and they plant lavender and basil in-between the vines.       

The range of 25 Signal Hill wines consists of Tutuka Shiraz (R39), The Threesome, Petit Verdot, Grenache Noir, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz/Syrah Helderberg, Pinot Noir, Clos D’Oranje Shiraz/Syrah R750), Grenache Blanc, Rosé de Saignée (R38), Empereur Rouge, Vin de L’emperuer, Straw Wine, Creme de Tete, Eszencia (R2000), Red Le Signal, White Le Signal and Muscat de Rivesaltes.

It was a most impressive day, seeing wine estates from a completely different angle.  The wine tastings were generous, and one must pace oneself and spit more than swallow, with an average of five wines tasted per wine estate, making about 20 in total!   The wonderful lunch we had at Towerbosch on the Knorhoek wine estate will be featured in a restaurant review next week.

Eco Wine Tours: Charles Lourens, Bottle Plate Pillow Tel 082 375 2884 and Pieter Geldenhuys, PG Tops Tel 083 288 4944.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

It is commendable when South African businesses operate with an environmentally-friendly policy, and even more so when food businesses do so, as it is harder for them to do so.

A company that is pushing “Going Green” to the limit is the St Elmo’s pizza chain, which is proudly environmentally friendly, and tells its customers about it in its fliers:

1.   St Elmo’s says it uses “alien water-thirsty” Port Jackson and Black Wattle wood to burn in its woodfired pizza ovens.   This prevents indigenous trees from being chopped down unnecessarily, and helps to save water.

2.   The menus are printed on eco-friendly paper – Sappi’s Triple Green paper is made from “sustainable sources”, its flier says. 

3.   Food suppliers are selected on the basis of their concern for the environment, e.g. Parmalat

4.   The mozarella cheese used in the St Elmo’s pizzas is of superior quality, and does not contain antibiotics, nor are rBST-hormones fed to supplier cows to make them produce more milk.

5.   The business partners of St Elmos “are as passionate about caring for the environment as we are.   In fact, they are implementing some innovative “greening” initiatives”, but they are not specified on the flier – on the website they are listed as Mondi, Coca Cola, and Sappi.

6.   St Elmo’s claims to improve its carbon footprint by using less energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but they do not specify how they do this on the flier.   On the website extensive detail is provided and hints given how the company, but also consumers, can become more green, e.g. using energy-saving bulbs, watering plants with water used to boil eggs, separating garbage, turning off the oven 10 minutes before the food is due to be cooked, and switching off electric appliances, even computers, overnight.    

7.   The pizza boxes and serviettes are recyclable, and the pizza boxes are printed with non-toxic inks, making them safe and suitable for recycling.

On its website, St Elmo’s goes into far more details about how green it is, and refers to its tree-planting projects at the Marconi Beam Primary School, and in the Milnerton area, in accordance to its Green slogan: “Money does not grow on trees, but it can help us plant them”.  Each St Elmo’s store has donation boxes for the change to go towards buying more trees, to be distributed via Food & Trees for Africa. 

For further details, see www.stelmos.co.za

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com