Meet Bonné de Bod – an environmental journalist making a change…

Meet Bonné de Bod, an environmental journalist and passionate recycler who is working on a number of projects to assist in the reduction of waste, preservation of the environment and generally creating awareness around our planet and sustaining life on it.

We caught up with Bonné to find out more…

Bonné, what made you wish to become an environmental journalist?

I think we all wish to leave the space we have occupied in a better place and I guess for me it’s the ability to take my passion and love for nature and share that and know that it would have an impact somewhere. Not everyone can visit our national parks so I can play a part in people appreciating the beauty of nature and wildlife and influence them in protecting it and against destroying it.

Without looking into the eyes of a rhino or an elephant through the stories we tell and the pictures we show, a lot of people will not know what we are talking about and just would not care. Nature is not separate from us, it is within us, it is us. Without conservation, nature fails. So I knew I needed to bring nature’s wonders into living rooms, and hopefully change people’s perspective of the natural world.

We have to remember that we are all linked to the planet and every action we have will have a direct impact on someone else and on another being.

You are involved with some epic recycling projects – tell us a bit more about those?

One of the biggest advantages of having been part of SABC’s 50/50 is that I have been given access to some incredible places, but I’m also always mindful that I get to go to these places where not everyone can get to and see the inner-workings for themselves.

So I jumped at the chance to do an in-depth story on plastic recycling in our grocery retail shops. I recycle, a lot of people recycle and it was eye-opening to see just how those glass jars and plastic bottles that we say goodbye to and never really think about again, really do become valuable plastic packaging after they have been sorted and melted down. I visited factories around the country and no-one can ever tell me again that taking care of our environment happens at the cost of our economy.

From manual sorting all the way through to high-tech machinery, these plastic recycling plants hire a lot of people. So our demands for plastic to be more than single-use and for corporations to move to using recycled material does also have secondary benefits like being a successful business model.

This also showed me that our voice as the consumer is taken seriously and change can happen when we want planet-friendly products. It’s so important that we voice the fact that we like buying ethically farmed meat or if we don’t want straws in the market place we need to let that be known. Retailers listen to their customers. We cannot wait for corporations to move first for our environment, we have to press for change for the planet.

Why is it so important that everyone does their best to recycle at home, and what are some of the tips that are easy to implement that can make the biggest difference?

There is a whopping 8 billion tons of plastic on the planet. The ocean is choking and they say that by 2050 plastic will outweigh the fish in the seas. But plastic is part of our everyday life and I think it is unrealistic to think that we can go without it, but we can definitely close the tap to single-use plastics.

I am sure most of us are comfortable buying and using plastic because it’s recyclable but what we’re finding out is that a lot of plastic isn’t actually recyclable (so watch out for that) and that if we do have plastic in our lives, to use the product as many times as we can before we throw them away. Recycling at home in South Africa isn’t really that easy.

South Africa is unique in the fact that there are professional recyclers that go through our rubbish bins when we put them out… I’m sure you’ve seen these men and women pushing their trolleys on the roads. So what I now do is, I still have my separate recycling containers, but I’ll walk these directly to the collectors every Monday morning just outside my home where they are waiting to sort through the bins before Pikitup comes through.

Bucket list travel destination and why?

I would love to see the migration in the Masai Mara in Kenya. It must be an incredible experience to watch this immense movement of animals, which is listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Okavango Delta in Botswana is another place on my list. And then very close to home, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe which I can’t believe I haven’t seen yet!

Books or movies and why?

Movies. But better still, binge watching the latest series on Netflix. I don’t know how I waited weeks to finish a series! Love Netflix!

If you could have dinner with any one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Oprah. She is one of the most inspiring people on the planet… not because of her success but because she has never let anything get her down. She had to fight against all odds to have a career on American television. Firstly, being overweight, and I’m not being insensitive here, Oprah would be the first one to talk about it and she regularly has spoken about how appearances are everything on television and she had to just get on with it.

Photo creds: Willem Botha and Susan Scott.

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