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Active environmentalist Robert Forsyth – group executive chairman of the Misty Hills Country Hotel, Conference & Spa in Muldersdrift – was named Eco-warrior of the Workplace in the inaugural Green Heart Awards held last week.
The aim of the award is to bring “going green” into the mainstream by creating role models in SA workplaces. It also aims to recognise those who have made a significant contribution to going green by finding creative and interesting ways to improve their department, office, dorm, or building’s environmental footprint.
Forsyth has been at the fore-front of the green movement, ensuring that the hotel reduces its wastage through various recycling programmes. Now, the country retreat overlooking the Kromdraai Valley on the edge of the Cradle of Humankind is a stunning example of how green programmes can be implemented successfully.
All food wastage is given to local pig farmers and wet paper is used in the hotel’s compost unit. Forsyth ensures that all glass, plastic and containers are segmented for recycling to various places such as Ronnie and Ngwenya.
Forsyth’s enthusiasm and active role in “greening” has affected more than 80 percent of the hotel’s organisation. Inspired staff have established their own “love veggie patches” to supply the kitchens with organic vegetables and herbs.
Adding to the green power of the hotel, the sewerage system is reticulated through its own sewage processing unit.
On the hotel’s grounds, nothing goes to waste. Alien trees and large shrubs that are removed are made into furniture, doors, art frames and partition walling around the water processing plant. Alien wood used is also used for fuel.
Forsyth also established the Misty Hills Hotel private botanical gardens and arboretum that has been awarded Botanic Gardens Conservation International Membership.
There are about 400 varieties of trees, shrubs, bulbs, ground covers, grasses, succulents and aquatic plants within the gardens and conserved areas.
Cascading water features and abundant birdlife add to the country setting.
The celebrity category of the awards was launched to acknowledge SA celebrities who inspire others to adopt a greener lifestyle and to be aware of their carbon footprint.
The winner, Chris Chameleon, falls firmly in this category with his Minutes to Midnight music video, which has created increasing awareness among young people about the importance of looking after our planet.
Celebrities have been powerful in influencing trends and behaviour because they are able to attract the public’s attention and interest.
Their media stature provides them with various communication platforms, including now the social media, to promote positive environmental messages.
Celebrities such as Chameleon can make a difference in the perceptions of other people. And even more important, get them to act.