Sustainable design

Share their story

Lizl Naude, 42

Creative director
Lilly Loompa Upcycled Homeware

Self-taught designer and entrepreneur, Lizl Naude is the founder and owner of Lilly Loompa Upcycled Homeware, a homeware store that transforms the most ordinary waste items — from salvaged wood to empty wine bottles — into carefully crafted products. Upcycling offers an immediate reimagining of discarded objects, extending the life of materials through innovative design. Preferring the term “hipcycling” to describe her efforts, Naude hopes to meaningfully reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills by illustrating the benefits of a circular economy and increasing public awareness.

Naude’s guiding motto is: “Start with what you have.” Several years before Lilly Loompa began trading in 2018, Naude and her family lost all their material possessions. “This caused immense financial suffering and setbacks,” she says. “During this desperate time, I came to understand that the way out for my family was waste.” Trash transformed was the key to Naude’s success — not only in supporting her family, but also in giving back to her community. “I love what I do,” she says of her work at Lilly Loompa. “I get to live out my creative ideas while making a difference by cleaning up my neighbourhood.”

Lilly Loompa is as much concerned with environmental sustainability as it is with social upliftment. While Naude’s current efforts focus on her immediate surroundings, she hopes to extend her reach in the coming years by establishing purpose-made “inno-centres”. These micro factories, she says, will develop materials from pulverised waste and create new products to support further research. In addition to finding novel ways of reusing refuse, the inno-centres will offer meaningful, stable employment to local artisans. Naude’s continued commitment to her work is simple: “There is value in waste.”

 

Preferring the term “hipcycling” to describe her efforts, Naude hopes to meaningfully reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills by illustrating the benefits of a circular economy and increasing public awareness.

Lucienne Bestall | mg.co.za
Stephen Pikus, 51

Stephen Pikus, 51

Creative director
Stephen Pikus Designs

In the early 1990s, Stephen Pikus volunteered with an NGO collective on a farm in Tzaneen, Limpopo, working together with a group of carpenters, artists and metalworkers to service the local community. The profit made from the work supported a range of initiatives.

Pikus fell in love with making things from other people’s trash and this started his passion for creating light fixtures out of upcycled materials.

In 2014, five years after returning to Johannesburg, Pikus entered and won Eskom’s energy efficient lighting design competition with a design that used air filters from diesel trucks. While he wishes his green journey had started out of a need to do the right thing, he admits that it was because of a lack of money.

“I used to go to rubbish dumps and literally open black bags looking for bottles. And then I realised there was a whole subculture of recyclers who collect trollies worth of bottles. We got them involved, created jobs and paid them three times more than what glass recycling companies do.” A growing ecosystem creates jobs and reduces waste. Pikus’s work shows that nothing negative can come from being more environmentally conscious.

Consol Glass, as part of its head office upgrade in 2019, commissioned Pikus and his team to install a 3.2-ton, 52㎡ installation light fixture made from 4 200 glass bottles. Pikus prides himself in producing one-of-a-kind designs and high quality energy-efficient pieces that can stand the test of time. “It’s all in the details, we’ve been meticulous about the right finishes to really give someone a product they don’t want to throw away again.”

“The negative effects of not being environmentally conscious and not doing whatever we can to make a positive impact are so evident.”

Afrika Bogatsu | mg.co.za
Gary Kendall, 48

Gary Kendall, 48

Strategy and sustainability specialist
Nedbank

It was during long walks with his father and brother through the English countryside that Dr Gary Kendall’s passion for nature was ignited. “My father would stop and explain certain natural phenomena to us in simple language — I was transfixed.”

Today, Kendall is one of South Africa’s pre-eminent sustainability experts.
He fears that rapid urbanisation and the increasingly digital domain we inhabit have diminished our connection with nature: “I am troubled that our daily experiences are increasingly synthetic and disconnected from nature.”

Society’s fantasy of infinite growth without environmental consequences is a mind-set that must shift urgently in order for humanity to sustain itself. “We already have all the technologies that we require for eight to nine billion humans to live healthy, prosperous lives within ecological limits. We just need to abandon fairy-tale thinking,” is Kendall’s sobering advice.

The pandemic has yielded valuable insights into human behaviour, including how dramatically it can alter in just weeks. “In contrast, mitigation of systemic risks, such as climate change and inequality, is dealt with slowly and incrementally. To sustain socioeconomic development into the future, we need to make significant changes now and not wait until 2030 or 2050.”

Asked to identify what the “average” South African can do to live a greener lifestyle, Kendall is quick to point out that, “given our extraordinary diversity and eye-watering inequality, there is no average. Where one sees wealth and income inequality, one also sees emissions and consumption inequality.”

Kendall makes no bones about who must be pressured to commit to real sustainability — it is the echelons of wealth and power that need scrutinising if we are to implement meaningful systemic change. “They rest their hands on the levers of power, which, if pulled correctly, can shift the system for everyone’s benefit.”

“The way we have been operating for the past 150 years has been exploitative, extractive and linear. This needs to change urgently to an economy that is inclusive, restorative and circular.”

Francesco Nassimbeni | mg.co.za
EnviroCrete

EnviroCrete

EnviroCrete

EnviroCrete is a construction company that manufactures ecofriendly building materials and green construction solutions. It was founded in 2015 by Robert Pane, Shaiek Coe and Zuleigha Abderoef, and it’s a BBBEE level 1-rated company. Through a combined strategy of waste recycling, scrap wood utilisation and concrete prefabrication, EnviroCrete reduces the amount of waste generated in the construction process. In addition to their eco-friendly building materials, EnviroCrete uses bioclimatic building practices to create spaces that are optimally designed to save energy and reduce environmental impact.

The manufacturing of EnviroCrete products is what the organisation has referred to as a “bridge across industries”. What they mean by this is that through their process of recycling to manufacture, they engage with the waste collection, timber and prefabricated construction industries. Through these processes, EnviroCrete provides viable, cost-effective and ecofriendly alternatives to traditional building materials, while providing affordable, modern and dignity-affirming housing.

Through their specialised building system, EnviroCrete has developed an off-site, prefabricated system that allows for faster and easier construction, and better quality buildings. To achieve this, panels of the structure are precast and compiled without wet joining in a system that uses specially designed bolts and closures. This process reduces the time it takes to construct the building and since the panels are cast to design, there are significantly fewer offcuts and less wasted material.

The composition of EnviroCrete panels make them more insulating than ordinary concrete. This improved insulation reduces the need for electrically powered environmental control systems such as heaters and air-conditioning, reducing the long-term carbon footprint of EnviroCrete buildings.

Producing viable, cost-effective and ecofriendly alternatives to traditional building materials while providing affordable, modern and dignity-affirming housing

Anita Makgetla | mg.co.za
Jeshika Ramchund, 36

Jeshika Ramchund, 36

Lead engineer — developments division
Bosch Projects

Jeshika Ramchund is a lead civil engineer at Bosch Projects. Her experience spans water, wastewater, integrated sustainable developments and circular economy projects. She is currently involved in project structuring and financing for green economy and renewable energy projects, while growing a portfolio in the sustainable and integrated development space.

An avid environmentalist and change maker, Ramchund believes that a serious challenge facing the industry is “the eye-rolling” around environmental awareness. “We need to work to help marry hard science, like engineering, into what is deemed a very soft and ‘frivolous’ conversation, like sustainability.” If cynicism is not challenged, then convenience might win. The engineer claims that for the majority of people who live a very protected life, changing consumption patterns is not front of mind. “For someone who is responsible for growing their own food, a delay in rain or a locust outbreak that eats all the crop means a family goes hungry. We struggle to connect how our actions might impact someone who has a different reality to us.”

The answer? Help make green living and environmental conservation mainstream. “A lot of engineering operates in spaces people don’t see. In the integrated development space at Bosch, we connect with solutions that people can identify with to enable them to think about their own contributions to green living.”

This November, Ramchund will be presenting at the Green Building Council South Africa on sustainable changes in the built environment. “South Africa has a well-developed system of standards to operate within the environmental engineering sector, but the goal is to thrive at the scale of infrastructure development. This is where we stand the best chance of setting ourselves apart.”

“We need to work to marry hard science, like engineering, into what is often deemed a very soft and ‘frivolous’ conversation, like sustainability.”

Loren Shapiro | mg.co.za
Global GreenTag Africa

Global GreenTag is an internationally recognised certification trusted in more than 70 countries, including South Africa. Regarded as one of the most scientifically robust eco-product certification programmes, it examines key elements that tell us how a business or a product impacts the environment. GreenTag was created to combat “greenwashing”, or brands that falsely advertise themselves as ecofriendly, and to allow consumers of every scale to easily identify products that are ethically made and environmentally minded. There are two eco labels under Global Greentag. The GreenRate is for green design, procurement, facilities management and cleaning professionals. It offers three levels of attainment and each level equates to a “sustainability factor” based on various metrics. The LCARate is considered to be one of the toughest scientific scorecards in the world, measuring biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, social responsibility and more. The comprehensive analysis can reward customers as well as brands that have put the effort in to move beyond simply doing “business as usual”. Those who take that extra step now have a badge of honour, proving scientifically that their product is part of the effort to save our environment.

Lizette Swanevelder is the director of Global GreenTag Africa. She worked in the building industry before shifting to promoting ecologically sustainable building practices in 2009. She was the first in South Africa to launch a Global GreenTag programme outside of Australia. Since then, she has brought on an impressive amount of local manufacturers and works alongside institutes such as Cape Institute for Architecture, The Society of Architects, Planners, Engineers and Surveyors, the Western Cape Property Development Forum and more. Her dedication to sustainable development has allowed Global GreenTag Africa to become a highly regarded certification programme across Africa.

As the leader in ecofriendly certification, Global GreenTag Africa is helping to make a more sustainable and trustworthy green economy.

James Nash | mg.co.za