Sustainable Living with Zoe van Niekerk

Newly appointed Marketing Manager for Decorex SA and member of Event Greening Forum, Zoe Van Niekerk, shares the importance of sustainable living and how she has incorporated it into her own home.

Zoe Van Niekerk; Marketing Manager Decorex SA

Zoe Van Niekerk; Marketing Manager Decorex SA

After completing a BA Marketing Communications Degree in 2010 at the University of Johannesburg, Zoe started her career as a Media Sales Executive handling the advertising for a number of publications before joining the Scan Display team in 2014 as their Marketing Manager. In 2016, Zoe was awarded one of the Top 40 Women in MICE and was also the winner of SAACI’s Regional and National Young Achievers Award.

Zoe also sits on the committee of the Event Greening Forum (EGF), a non-profit organisation that aims to promote sustainability within the events sector.

  1. Tell us about sustainability and how you incorporate it into your everyday life?

Just over four years ago when I become a committee member for the Event Greening Forum, I realised how important sustainability was not only within my personal life but also within the industry that I am in. The events and exhibitions industry is a particularly wasteful sector and through my involvement with the EGF, we have been able to educate key industry players and corporates in the importance of event greening from recycling at home, work or even onsite from designing exhibition stands in a sustainable manner that ensures the longevity of the stand which is not only a cost saver but it also lessens the impactful on the environment. 

  1. How have you brought sustainability and recycling into your own home?

I have brought sustainability into my home by recycling what I can and growing my own vegetables and herbs. My husband and I have even gone as far as installing a solar system which runs all our lights and some appliances like the TV, internet, and the charging and of PCs and cell phones. Our home is equipped with a gas stove which has reduced our cooking time because of the instant heat it provides and through this creates less emissions than an electric stove. Our dream is to one day live completely off the grid – but one step at a time as they say.

Home garden ideas; Source: Pinterest

Home garden ideas; Source: Pinterest

  1. Tell us about some of the sustainability projects you have worked on in your home?

In the six years we have lived in our home we have undertaken a number of jobs from painting the interior of the house to redoing one of our bathrooms. However, the project that we both really enjoyed working on was our bar. From the moment we bought our house we saw an opportunity create a space upstairs where we could entertain guests, but it lacked one thing – a bar. We decided to create one ourselves and it took us a while to decide what we were going to do because I didn’t want just any old bar, I wanted something that would complement the space as well as the character of the house. Finally we decided on building a bar made out of beer bottles – and boy were we glad with the result! 

Beer bottle bar; Zoe’s home

Beer bottle bar; Zoe’s home

  1. Wow, a bar, made out of bottles – how many bottles did you have you to use to create the bar?

We spent months collecting (and cleaning) beer bottles from parties we hosted, parties we went to and from local bars in the area. However, in total we used 950 beer bottles to create our one-of-a-kind beer bar. 

Beer bottle bar; Zoe’s home

Beer bottle bar; Zoe’s home

  1. So why a ‘beer bar’ – what was your inspiration?

I really wanted something unique and fun but it also had to be sustainable. We looked at creating a bar out of reclaimed wood but the area was already so woody, so I didn’t want to add more wood to it. We considered a plain glass bar of sorts which could have looked super sleek, but then this took away from the ‘ruggedness’ and ‘manliness’ that a bar should have – and purchasing glass just didn’t fit in with my sustainably vibe. While trolling the internet for ideas I had come across a wall in a restaurant that had incorporated wine bottles into it, and this sparked the idea of a beer bar. 

Reclaimed wood bar; Source: Pinterest

Reclaimed wood bar; Source: Pinterest

  1. How long did it take you to build your beer bar and how did you do it?

It took us just over two years to complete the bar. When we first started we stuck the first two layers together with a glue gun – however after a month this started to come apart and we realised very quickly that we needed another solution if we were to succeed. So we tried silicon and it worked a like a dream. 

Beer bottle bar

Beer bottle bar; Zoe’s home

  1. Why is it important for people to be green?

Although we have seen a financial benefit of incorporating sustainability into our lives with a lower rates and taxes bill every month – for me, it is about creating a brighter future for generations to come. We as a society need to make a conscious effort in our everyday lives to make difference from saying no to the straw to implementing recycling initiatives within the workplace or even at home. At the end of the day, if we don’t make the change now then what will we leave behind for future generations? 

Copper steel straws; Source: Pinterest

Copper steel straws; Source: Pinterest

  1. Do you have any tips on how can people become more environmentally friendly and live more green?

Here are my top five tips for going green at home:

  • Keep it simple. Start off with what you can know you can do by setting goals and then expanding once your goals are reached.
  • Walk, ride or carpool where possible. Cutting back on your car use could save you money and help reduce the environmental impacts of cars, like fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Opt for reusable containers. Yes that means foregoing the bottled water because you have your own reusable bottle or jug of water handy, or happily taking your reusable coffee mug to Starbucks or Seattle Coffee. 

    Steel bottles; Source: Pinterest

    Steel bottles; Source: Pinterest

  • Unplug unused electronics like chargers, microwaves and computers. Did you know that many electronics consume energy even when they’re not actively “on”? It’s called phantom energy, and besides being a waste of electricity, it can add as much as 10 percent to your electricity bill.
  • Support local. If you’re looking for a gift or better yet décor pieces for your home why not support a locally responsible supplier. By supporting local organisations we are able to build up the local economy while reducing unnecessary carbon emissions through the transportation of the goods.

For more information and inspiration on sustainable living visit Green Home or Faithful to Nature.

Don’t miss Decorex SA in 2019.

Decorex Durban
21 – 24 March 2019
Durban Exhibition Centre

Decorex Cape Town
1 – 5 May 2019
CTICC

Decorex Joburg
7 – 11 August 2019
Gallagher Convention Centre

 

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