Treading Lightly With MINI South Africa at Reforest Fest

09

MAY, 2024

By Zotha Makwakwa & Jessie Leverzencie

What does zero-waste mean to you? Zero-waste has become a buzz term in the environmental space, as consumers become more aware of the impact of their waste and consumption.

One of our goals at our events at Greenpop is to tread as lightly as possible, in the hopes of leaving the spaces we enter more beautiful than when we first arrived. We aim to achieve this through eco-education, intentional waste and resource management, and at this year’s Reforest Fest – through a Waste to Resource Depot. Greenpop joined hands with MINI South Africa to bring these waste-conscious activations to life. 

How Do We Become Better Stewards of Nature?

If you consider yourself a custodian of the environment (in whatever capacity this relates to you), then you have definitely asked yourself the question, how can I better care for the environment? With the modern world slowly shifting towards more eco-conscious ways of life, people are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of their consumption. 

Mankind has been on what can be described as a rampage against nature for thousands of years – or more specifically since the onset of the agricultural revolution. Western consumer culture has seen the destruction and exploitation of our natural world for thousands of years. Wherever we go, we destroy, ‘develop’ and pillage the natural world to become more modernised and create a life that is ever-more convenient for the modern citizen. What we deem development or construction is often the destruction of nature. It is estimated that more than 80% of the terrestrial biosphere was transformed to varying degrees by human populations and land use. This begs the question, how do we change this trajectory, and with that this human story, and get us humans to become a part of the solution instead? We believe that that starts with education and equipping people to know how to make a difference where they are.

With festivals notorious for generating mountains of waste, up to an estimated 25,800 tonnes of waste in the UK alone, annually, it’s no wonder they’re often seen as breeding grounds for litter. At Greenpop, we aim to shift this stereotype on its head. Every aspect of our recent Reforest Fest was meticulously curated with sustainability in mind, aiming to minimise waste and maximise impact. 

Fostering a sense of community, Reforest Fest became a melting pot of diverse backgrounds and shared visions for a cleaner, greener world, in the hopes to revolutionise the way we approach festivals as whole. From interactive upcycled art stations, vendors on a mission to minimise their impact, to a recycling depot facilitated by our Waste Management Team, collecting and sorting waste was made easier than ever. 

As a result, we were able to divert approximately 491kg (Half a ton!) of well-sorted recyclables from landfills, feed 527kg of food waste to pigs, and process 1652 kg of humanure, setting a new sustainability record at the festival.

Hemporium

Photograph: Shari Lee Thomspon

Practical Steps Towards Zero Waste Living

In today’s world, where environmental concerns are at the forefront of our collective consciousness, embracing a zero-waste lifestyle has become more important than ever. Fortunately, there are practical steps we can take, inspired by the wisdom of Reforest Fest’s Waste Management expert Jen Rodwell:

Let’s dive into her top tips:

1. Start Composting:

“One of the things you can do at home is to start a compost bin, and if you cannot start one yourself, you can try to find some community members to start a joint one or look into where you can find compost bins in the community.”  – Jen Rodwell

Composting has a host of benefits. Besides being great for soil and crops, composting reduces the amount of waste which ends up in landfills.

“In addition, composting lowers greenhouse gases by improving carbon sequestration in the soil and by preventing methane emissions through aerobic decomposition, as methane-producing microbes are not active in the presence of oxygen.”EPA

Read more on starting a compost heap at home here.

2. Be intentional:

Be conscious about sorting your waste at home and making sure that you only put in your recycle bin what can actually really be recycled. Here is a useful recycling guide to help you get started.

3. BYO Reusables:

Bring your own reusable cups, bottles, and utensils whenever you’re out and about.

 “The slow decomposition of disposable cups, especially those with plastic linings, can lead to the release of microplastics into the environment,” and on the off chance that your disposable cup winds up in waste bound for incineration, that process “can release pollutants into the air.”The Guardian

This small habit can make a big difference in reducing single-use plastic waste and promoting sustainable consumption.

4. Get Creative with Upcycling:

Jen encourages us to explore artistic expression through upcycling materials that cannot be easily recycled. This highlights the transformative power of creativity in addressing environmental challenges, while simultaneously reducing waste. Read more about how to get creative with upcycled art in this blog post.

5. Educate Yourself and Others:

Educate yourself and others about the benefits and possibilities of a zero-waste lifestyle. By sharing knowledge and insights, we can inspire collective action towards waste reduction.

Reforest Fest 2024

Photograph: Shari Lee Thompson

By making use of these practical steps in our daily routines, we can all play a part in building a more sustainable future. And here’s something to cheer about: estimates suggest that the zero waste market could skyrocket by 122.15% between 2021 and 2028. That’s not just good news for the environment, it’s also a sign that more and more people are recognising the importance of reducing waste and living more sustainably. 

Collaborating For A More Sustainable Tomorrow

Collaborating with like-minded companies is a key pillar of the work we do at Greenpop. Joining hands with MINI South Africa at Reforest Fest helped make our vision of a zero-waste festival come to fruition, by focussing on three key factors: education, action, and empowerment. Coupled with MINI SA’s innovative flair, this partnership helped us to bring sustainable solutions to the table, and educate attendees on how to effortlessly manage their waste at Reforest Fest and beyond. 

MINI South Africa has been at the forefront of sustainable mobility, not only producing electric vehicles but also incorporating organic materials into their designs. Their commitment to reducing waste extends beyond the road, with initiatives aimed at minimising environmental impact throughout their operations. At Reforest Fest, MINI SA brought their signature ‘Big Love‘ to the table, showcasing that their commitment to sustainability extends far beyond the road.

Greenpop reforest fest mini electric collective

Photograph: Shari Lee Thompson

MINI’s Electric Collective, which introduced the Big Love Stage to the festival, served as a platform for inspiring changemakers to harness the power of both individual and collective action, driving tangible results and fostering positive change. The Electric Collective is centred around the belief: “Just 3.5%. That’s all it takes to supercharge change.”

“Our collective is inspired by a study suggesting that when just 3.5% of the population takes action, it never fails to bring about meaningful change. So that’s why we’re here: to solve the unsolvable. Together.”

MINI Greenpop Reforest Fest

The MINI Electric Collective Big Love Stage at Reforest Fest 2024. Photograph: Shari Lee Thompson

MINI South Africa’s presence at the event embodied its philosophy of conscious living and environmental stewardship, encouraging individuals to claim back their power and take a leap for change. By partnering with Reforest Fest, MINI SA demonstrated their dedication to making a positive impact.

We joined hands with MINI to revolutionise the way we approached waste at the festival. These touchpoints were seen through the well-facilitated festival Recycling Depot, Waste to Resource Depot, where kids learnt all about upcycling waste materials, and through the food at the festival.

Reforest Fest 2024

Photograph: Christian Khayo

Treading Lightly & Operating In Harmony With Nature

Reforest Fest 2024 was hosted at the beautiful Bodhi Khaya Nature Retreat, a venue renowned for its commitment to the wellness of people and the planet. Through a conscious approach to their impact on the environment, Bodhi Khaya aims to live in harmony with the natural surroundings they find themselves in. Bringing together over 1000 crew and festivalgoers into this space meant making sure that we could leave the space in a pristine condition after the festival was over.

Both in the lead-up to and at the event itself, we aimed to educate participants about their waste and how to reduce their waste’s impact on the environment. Our pre-event Festival Guide document outlined a helpful packing list, as well as a look at our recycling concept for the event, which helped festivalgoers prepare for the weekend with an eco-conscious focus in mind.

In the lead-up to the event, participants were discouraged from bringing excess packaging onto the site, and instead encouraged to opt for reusable, non-disposable packaging, as well as bringing their own cutlery and crockery to the event. 

Through our vendor mandate, all of the food at the festival also had an eco-conscious focus. Food served was plant-based, and the ingredients were sourced largely from local farms in the Overberg area, focusing on seasonal and local produce. Vendors were encouraged to reduce the amount of packaging brought to the event, sort their recyclables responsibly. Participants were also encouraged to make use of their reusable cutlery and crockery when purchasing food from the vendors. 

Vendors and participants alike were encouraged to reduce the amount of packaging brought to the event, and to sort their waste responsibly. All of the organic waste at the festival was separately disposed of and made into organic compost or fed to the pigs on site. The ablution facilities at the festival, also included compost toilets, the waste from which was converted into humanure. 

Through the Recycling Depot, educational posters on waste around the site, and Waste to Resource Depot for the kids, people of all ages were taught to reframe their thinking on waste, how to dispose of waste properly and how to transform it into something completely new!

PETCO’s clear plastic waste bags, given to each participant upon arrival at the festival, picking up after ourselves was made easier than ever. This collaboration became a physical reminder to festivalgoers about the importance of zero-waste thinking during and after the festival. The PETCO PET recycled tee shirts worn by our festival crew added a special touch, standing as a symbol of our connection between sustainability and community.

Photographs: Christian Khayo, Skyla Haley, Shari Lee Thompson

Empowering the Next Generation Transforming Waste into Art

The Waste to Resource Depot at Reforest Fest was a fun and interactive place for kids to shift their perceptions of waste. Guided by practical steps from Reforest Fest Waste Management expert, Jen Rodwell, our little Reforesters embarked on a journey of transforming and giving everyday waste items new life! 

There’s a saying by Ferdinand August Bebel that says “ One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, New life was breathed into otherwise junk items, showing what is possible when we think outside of the box and let our creativity and innovation flow.  The Waste to Resource Depot brought to life not only creativity, but also saw everyday items like toilet rolls turn into rice shakers, paintings came to life with the use of cardboard box canvases, plastic bottles were transformed into candle holders and plastic bags were woven into mats. Creativity oozed as the little ones’ eyes were opened to the possibilities of upcycling. 

“We’re more trying to think about how we can reduce our waste, and how we can recycle and upcycle whatever waste we have as much as possible so that we are really limiting our footprint, and hopefully educating the next generation to actually really go towards zero-waste.” – Jen Rodwell

This sentiment captures the personal commitment and dedication that characterised Reforest Fest, making it a truly transformative experience for all involved.

Reforest Fest 2024

Jen Rodwell teaching kids all about getting crafty with upcycling at Reforest Fest 2024. Photograph: Christian Khayo

Environmental Impact Through Waste Management

Our Waste Management Team at Reforest Fest worked around the clock to make sure the waste at the festival was disposed of properly. With sets of beautiful bins (or appropriate resource collection stations) located around the site, near the Main Stage and Food Village, participants had easy access to disposing of their waste properly.  

Our Waste Management teams welcomed participants to the festival, wearing colourfully donned outfits made of plastic bags and ribbons and aprons made of hemp, handing out PETCO bags and engaging in conversations around waste management and picking up MOOP (matter out of place) in the space. This encouraged attendees to pause, reflect, and intentionally participate in recycling and upcycling efforts at Reforest Fest. 

Reforest Fest festivalgoers sorted their recyclables like glass, cardboard, tin, compost waste, and certain plastics into allocated bins. The eager engagement of attendees and the efficiency of the Waste Management Team, who went above and beyond to create an educational space at our Recycling Depot, made disposing of our waste effectively, a breeze. 

Through the use of informative posters on the bins and cheeky messages inside the landfill bins, saying “there’s no such thing as ‘away’,” – say that again! We were all prompted to think more closely about our relationship with our waste, and how simply throwing something “away” doesn’t conclude that item’s journey.

Reforest Fest 2024

Photograph: Shari Lee Thompson

Record-Breaking Success: A Testament to Collective Action

Reforest Fest showed that we can all do our part to reduce waste and take care of the planet. It was a reminder that small actions can make a big difference in protecting our environment! Through dedication and active participation, half a tonne (491kg) of waste was diverted from landfills, and only one bag of MOOP was collected post-event, setting a new standard for our events. 

We witnessed a global movement, where attendees wholeheartedly embraced sustainability, joining hands in the mission to leave no trace but our footsteps and trees. Reforest Fest stood out not just as a festival, but as a testament to the power of collective action and the spirit of environmental stewardship, urging us all to continue the journey long after the festival ended.

And, at the end of the festival, once all the guests and most of the team had packed up and gone home, and the beautiful Bodhi Khaya site had been put to rest till the next event, a handful of our team did a final walkabout. From the bottom entrance to the top dam, meticulously scanning for the last of the items that should be picked and sorted. In total, we came back with no more than a milk crate’s worth of waste. A proud moment and testament to real intention in practice. This, a cathartic process of ensuring no leaf was left unturned, and that we, as a team and a community, left the festival site, better then we found it. 

We would like to extend a massive thank you to MINI South Africa for your invaluable partnership. A massive thank you to our waste management team, Jen Rodwell, Reforest Fest vendors, and all of the event attendees for making this zero-waste mission a reality. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this milestone, whether by participating in activities, intentional recycling and upcycling,  supporting our vendors, or simply spreading the message of sustainability.

“Live Life Well” From the Inside Out

“Live Life Well” From the Inside Out

“Live Life Well.” What images does this phrase bring up in your head? Greenpop and Wellness Warehouse revamped Reforest Fest’s Food Village with a focus on sustainable, ethical, local, and seasonal produce.

Greenpop Foundation NPC is a registered non-profit organisation. Registration Number (NPO): 151-411 NPO.