Singita is a conservation company that’s preserving more than one million acres of African wilderness. It supports its sustainability efforts and community outreach by providing environmentally conscious hospitality in 15 lodges across the continent.

Singita’s Southern African operations have been using our One Planet Living®framework since 2016 to drive its sustainability efforts. As part of Singita’s staff engagement programme it identifies One Planet Champions – these are people who embody the spirit of One Planet Living in their work and personal life, inspiring other people to get involved in creating sustainable change.

We had a chat with one of Singita’s recent champions, Auto Mthenjane, who was nominated for engaging young people in his local community to reduce waste.

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Tell us a bit about yourself

I’ve been at Singita for almost 10 years as a Banakeli (butler) at our Ebony Lodge at Sabi Sand in South Africa. I learned about environmental issues at school but have really broadened my horizons at Singita with its One Planet Living initiative.

What are the biggest sustainability challenges in your community?

There’s a huge amount of pollution and litter. We have a lack of waste infrastructure which means that people burn rubbish - creating toxic fumes.

So, I’m especially passionate about reducing waste and educating the younger generation about what they can do - both my own kids, as well as other local children in the community.

I’ve started to go into schools to share the importance of recycling and showing how they can make a difference by creating their own eco-bricks. These are reusable building blocks created by packing clean and dry plastic into a plastic bottle.

Eco-bricks are a great way for us to reduce the amount of rubbish that goes into landfill, as well as making visible just how much plastic we actually use. They’re also a lot of fun for kids to make and get them to think about reusing materials.

Have you noticed a change in your community in the years since you’ve been creating awareness of environmental issues?

I’ve noticed a huge change in my home. My kids are more passionate and educated about the environment. This is probably helped by the fact that I give my kids R10 for every eco-brick they make!

It’s important to spread the word about things like this, so I have been teaching my neighbours about the importance of not burying things like tins and rubbish, so we can keep our soil clean. I’ve also been involving my whole street and community to make sure our road is litter-free.

Since teaching local people, including shop owners, how to make eco-bricks, and the importance of collecting rather than burning waste, the collection of plastic has increased dramatically.

How do you think people can make the most change in their communities?

Leading by example is the most important thing. You must practice what you’re telling others to do. Now my kids know about these issues, I’ve seen them showing their friends what they can do too.

A whole community coming together means you can make a real difference.

Singita's Annual Review 2019/20 shares Bioregional’s review of the One Planet Living progress over the last year, highlighting successes and challenges, and making recommendations for accelerating change.

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