South African entrepreneurs talk about making eco-friendly products

Entrepreneurs

Several small business owners made a conscious decision to produce non-toxic and biodegradable products. Here’s their why.

Khululekani Nyobole nurturer
Khululekani Nyobole is an entrepreneur helping to save the planet through his business. “We want to make eco-friendly products accessible to every household in South Africa. It is not just a trend; it is a movement of nurturers – nurturing ourselves, our loved ones and the planet.” (Image supplied)

Melissa Javan
Her passion for the environment and making a conscious decision that she would do anything so her children could see wildlife and nature, led to her company manufacturing eco-friendly cleaning products, said Blendwell Chemicals‘ Judy Sunasky.

Blendwell Chemicals’ head office is in Midrand, Johannesburg. The company makes three ranges of cleaning products, including Enviroblend, which is plant-based and readily biodegradable.

“I am passionate about the environment, nature and being outdoors.

“I want a future that is bright for my children. I want them to see an Earth where there is wildlife and we are able to feel grass under our feet and sunshine on our faces,” she said, explaining her motivation to make eco-friendly cleaners. It underlines her adherence to the saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Judy Sunasky Blendwell Chemicals
Judy Sunasky of Blendwell Chemicals says her company started producing eco-friendly product in 2011. “Enviroblend is the green, eco-friendly certified range. These products are innovative, sourced from sustainable plant-based chemicals and are non-toxic and readily biodegradable.” (Image supplied)

Sunasky is not the only one with this sentiment. Khululekani Nyobole of Nurturer and Raj Lalloo of OptimusBio also make environmentally friendly products.

Their products are sold through distribution agents and their websites.

Collective responsibility

Writing on Bizcommunity.com, Justin Smith said South African companies, including those in the retail sector, continued to experience a significant change in customers’ mindset.

“The reality is that doing business is no longer just about profit, but also about creating shared value and meeting responsibilities to contribute to inclusive economic development, and to give back to communities and our planet.”

Smith is head of the Woolworths Good Business Journey, the retail chain’s sustainability programme. He wrote that we were seeing things such as changing weather patterns in South Africa and increased frequency of climate-related disasters.

These issues, along with other agricultural concerns, plus water scarcity, affected food security and food prices, which ultimately put pressure on South African consumers.

“It is our collective responsibility as corporate citizens to look to reduce resource consumption patterns, both in our respective places of business and along our supply chains, to see where efficiencies can be enhanced.”

Woolworths is an example of a company doing things differently in support of the environment. It replaced all the plastic microbeads in its label beauty and personal care products with biodegradable alternatives, reported Bizcommunity.com.

Microbeads are tiny, non-biodegradable plastic spheres that are widely used in face and body scrubs to deliver the exfoliating action. Because of the microbeads’ size, they clog sewerage systems, water courses and oceans, endangering marine and aquatic life.

Woolworths replaced the microbeads with natural and biodegradable ingredients such as jojoba oil beads, apricot kernels and synthetic wax beads.

 

Nurturer

Entrepreneur Khululekani Nyobole was born and raised in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha. “This (area) is where the majority of the people work for survival – to get their basic needs met,” he said.

According to News24, Nyobole matriculated from Crystal Secondary School in Hanover Park, after failing Grade 10 three times. “I’d always wanted to start my own business. I wanted a qualification. I wanted stability. That’s when I decided to start Nurturer because the environment is close to my heart.”

Nurturer makes affordable, environmentally friendly cleaning products. They went to market in February 2017.

Eco-friendly products found on shop shelves were not only inaccessible as they are available in the more affluent areas, but they were high-end products that were sold at a premium, Nyobole said.

“Even if they would care for the environment, their financial state does not allow them to buy better products,” he explained about his community.

“This bothered me because eco-friendly products are part of the solution to the crisis of environmental degradation and to our healthcare. Their purpose cannot be fulfilled in Africa if they are only used by the minority or the elite. This is the fundamental reason why we (Nurturer) exist,” Nyobole said.

His company developed a direct selling model so that a “nurturer” could talk to consumers one-on-one. “We aim to create awareness by sharing information about toxins that are lingering in their homes from the products they use and the consequences of using such products such as poor indoor air quality and skin/eye irritations.

“We then share the benefits of switching to eco-friendly products and exhibit this through demonstrations.”

OptimusBio

Raj Lalloo, OptimusBio chief researcher and chief technical officer, said the company was a spin-out from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) that produces next-generation biotechnology products for green cleaning, sanitation, water and waste treatment.

Founded in September 2014, the company is in Pretoria. OptimusBio makes products for domestic and institutional cleaning, rural sanitation, water treatment, industrial waste treatment, agriculture and aquaculture.

It uses technology developed at the CSIR’s Biomanufacturing Industry Development Centre. Lalloo explained: “The technology is based on the concept of biomimicry, which is when good bacteria are used as nature’s ‘machines’ to clean wastes.

“Our indigenous bacteria integrate into natural ecosystems through the principle of bio-augmentation. The products were developed with the aim of replacing the harsh chemicals and pollutants with next-generation biological and biodegradable alternatives, to improve wellbeing, while preserving scarce water and environmental resources.

“This is a highly impactful offering from CSIR technology, developed over many years, and we are excited about how it will change the landscape towards a more sustainable planet.”

For example, the products helped with rural sanitation, pit latrine toilets and septic tanks by biologically degrading waste, he said. “This assists with quality of life, odour, disease and flies.”

Phepisa

Phepsile Maseko founded Phepisa Natural Resources Institute in Johannesburg in 2010. Phepisa focuses on developing and distributing safe, traditional and natural innovative treatments that help people lead a healthier life.

They include the Gwenge range of skincare products. All of the items in the range have a South African plant extract as the main ingredient.

Maseko, who is a traditional healer, says on her website that she grew up having a recurring dream that later became a vision. The dream involved a bunch of rich, green, medicinal plants shaped like a carrot.

“I was later to learn that it was a sign from the ancestors that I was the chosen one to be taught about ancient healing methods and secrets that have been passed down in my family for over three generations.”

Maseko’s father taught her where to find and identify the different herbs and plants for medicine. “He would then teach me how he makes formulations for different ailments from these plants. This was an exciting world for a young girl; it was also my schooling in African traditional medicines and healing practices.”

This article was published on Brand South Africa

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Written by Lwazi

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