I touched down in Cape Town in the late afternoon. I’d been invited by the new enterprise Green Guerrillas, who work out of Cape Town. They describe themselves as “Non-political, all colours, tolerating all religions and non-stupid. The Green Guerrillas are governed by logic, constantly seeking alternative solutions, and understanding the present chaos the earth finds itself. Return to nature, explore South Africa, travel the Green Guerrilla way…”. I was approached by the Green Guerrillas a long time ago and after several talks they’d finally got me down here to check out their operations and projects, while they are also to have me try hunting for the first time ever in my life.
The Green Guerrillas
I was picked up at the airport and as we drove up along the west coast, the owner Akim, told me about their latest project, a waste harvesting project. The Green Guerrillas has teamed up with a hotel chain, Leisure Hotels, who run four hotels in central Cape Town, and agreed to take care of all their waste while also providing them with organic produce for their guests. As Akim told me during the drive up the coast, ”Why do we point a finger at the airlines and all transport companies in this industry? Why are they claimed to be the bad guys? Waste is the big problem and when it is put in landfills, it creates methane, a chemical compound that is four times heavier than carbon. If we are to fight climate change, we need to start with taking care of our waste.”
After a one hour drive we pulled into a big farm on the very rugged and sandy west coast. Leisure Hotels own a piece of land here of 10 hectares, where they run an operation, and in conjunction to this, they’ve allotted one hectare of land, where GG will make sandy and pretty lifeless soil into an organic farm, by using worms and organic waste to grow organic food.
Grow organic food in the desert?
Looking at the sandy and dry area I was a bit skeptical. The west coast which is ploughed with alien vegetation, located in a sandy dust bowl with constant winds blowing, hot sun and with very little rainfall, is a harsh place to grow thing. Yet there’s water lurking underground and Akim knows how to work with these conditions, using old school farming and science of nature to make it grow. GG presents their project like this:
“We live in an age of stupidity with all the answers in front of our nose, yet we pass at grabbing the opportunity-the world is faced with 2 problems this present day, our agriculture soil is dead, and we do not recycle our ORGANIC waste-nature offers solutions, but they fall on deaf greedy ears. The Green Guerrillas have developed a concept that is not ours to own but the universe, as its from the universe- a world around us that we do not see, yet it co-exists with us-Bacteria, anaerobic bacteria to break down waste and other creative solutions offered by nature, maggots and earthworms offer massive organic returns. The Green Guerrillas believe the tourism industry is not being accountable for its waste and should begin to look more closer at alternative solutions-methane gas is a heavy gas-landfills, as used in South Africa at present is not the solution.”
The Buffalo Soldiers
I was introduced to two of his newly employed staff, or his “Buffalo Soldiers” as he likes to call them, who work on the farm. This project has created new jobs for 10 previously unemployed individuals from the townships who now can support their families financially while also being taught how to grow their own food in an organic way in their own homes. The key to this project is to take care of waste and also to spread the knowledge of waste recycling and organic farming. In my eyes a very tangible and transparent project anchored in the tourism and travel industry.
We spent the night at the farm in a tent, and it was hardly the way I thought I would be sleeping after the long overnight flight down here, but it was a great experience to share the starlit night with the guys around the fire. Though I was a bit skeptical about the project before coming here, I’ve become more and more convinced that this will happen and that it does work.
The morning after we took a tour around the farm where Akim presented his plan about what was to be grown and where it would be. The breakfast in front of the fire provided us with fresh eggs, straight from the coop, and I doubt that I’ve ever had such delicious eggs. Akim tells me that GG will supply the hotels with these eggs soon, and in time they will be able to provide fresh organic eggs to the guests for their breakfasts. No other hotel in South Africa will be able to say that they serve fresh organic eggs to their guests.
As we headed back down along the coast and back into Cape Town, Akim tells me that we now are to go to one of the hotels to pick up their organic waste. I helped out to pick up seven large containers of organic waste, which we loaded upon the truck.
Compete with sustainability
I got an opportunity to have a chat with the Managing Director of Leisure Hotels in South Africa and she’s very positive about the project. For them it’s very important to take care of the environment and take responsibility of their waste.
“Of course we also see the potential in marketing differentiation. With the competition between hotels in Cape Town, we must stay ahead of the competition and give our clients something extra. We get more and more clients with an interest in our social responsibility and it is important that we fulfill this growing and coming demand. Waste is a problem and by teaming up with Green Guerrillas we can synergize and also get organically grown products out of the deal”.
It is to my knowledge the first time ever that I’ve seen and heard of a similar project in the industry of today. In a Third world country like South Africa, you see an initiative like this? It provides hope and as GG claim, that they need more onboard and wants to share their capital intellect with others.
“Mobilize with the Green Guerrillas and join us in the revolution against our own complacency, the Green Guerrillas are supporting its close communities to grow organic produce by recycling their organic waste – The Green Guerrillas need YOU!”
[alpine-phototile-for-flickr src=”set” uid=”61939800@N02″ sid=”72157632740362597″ imgl=”flickr” dltext=”Flickr” style=”gallery” row=”4″ grwidth=”800″ grheight=”600″ num=”4″ size=”320″ shadow=”1″ curve=”1″ align=”center” max=”100″ nocredit=”1″]