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5 Ways to Have an Eco-Friendly Business

As our planet's landfills continue to overflow, and the environment continues to suffer under the stress of our lifestyles, businaesses all across the world are looking to create and lead positive change by running a green business.

In addition to the environmental benefits, becoming a “green” company can also have an incredibly positive long-term impact on the reputation and profitability of your business.

And who doesn't want to grow their business while also saving the planet?

Eco-friendly business

Here are five ways to have an eco-friendly business. 

1. Use solar/renewable energy
Depending on the type of business you run and where you are located, you may be able to update your office to using solar or renewable energy. Not only will this increase your office sustainability, but it will also make money as a long-term investment. Both large companies and smaller businesses are using solar and renewable energy to assist in helping the climate crisis.

In 2018, you have various options for alternative energy sources to power your office, such as wind and solar power, hydropower and geothermal.

While installing solar panels can require serious investment, over a long period it will be an advantage for your business. Undoubtedly, solar/renewable energy is the future, and if your organization chooses to incorporate green energy now, it will make it far easier to continue to include developments in the renewable energy market.

2. Start a waste management program
One of the simplest and quickest ways to make your business more eco-friendly is to implement a waste management program. First, understand where your waste is generated and how often and where it ends up. From here, see how you can develop waste prevention strategies.

Always be educating and engaging with employees to develop your waste management program. Make sure they understand that a lot of "trash" can actually be recycled or reused as valuable resources. Rethink the kind of packaging used by your company at all stages, and find eco-friendly alternatives or techniques for cutting back.

Next, implement a waste recycling program within your store or office. Start by making sure everyone in the business knows what can and can't be recycled and composted. Provide staff with reusable water bottles and coffee mugs, and make it a company-wide mission to reduce, reuse and recycle.

3. Recycle electronics
There is a good chance that your company and your company's employees use a considerable amount of electronics. But did you know that ensuring your excess electronic equipment stays out of the local landfill is an excellent way to help sustain the planet? (Just remember to erase any personal information first!)

There are a few options when it comes to recycling your firm's electronics. First of all, if they are under five years old and still working, then you can donate them to local schools, charities or shelters.

Alternatively, various manufacturers (such as Dell and HP) and electronic retailers have technology recycling programs that allow credit for trade-ins on used equipment, and donation programs for charities.

4. Utilize technologies that minimize the environmental impact
From prefabricated metal buildings to inflatable packers for grouting to green web hosting, eco-friendly envelopes, and natural cleaning products, there are so many new technologies that can minimize the environmental impact of your firm, and its projects or products on the environment.

Spend some time researching which ones work for your industry and create a strategy for implementing them into your company's practices and processes.

5. Engage with other businesses and your community
Not only will engaging with other business and your community on green-related activities help sustain the environment, but it also is likely to introduce your firm to new potential clients or customers (win-win scenario!).

With your team, brainstorm events or activities that you can organize — for example, advocating for local protection programs which involve water remediation or bioremediation, educating the community on recycling practices, or manufacturing products that are entirely eco-friendly.

Ensure that all members of your firm are involved to show the community that you really care about the wellbeing of the environment.

In fact, making your business more eco-friendly can be more accessible than is commonly believed. Start with small changes as, over time, these can have a massive impact and, once you’ve started, you will want to continue reforming your workplace.

 Dave Baca is the General Manager at Aardvark Packers LLC, overseeing day-to-day operations as well as sales, marketing, purchasing and work order manipulation. He received his machinist degree in 1989 and excels at design on AutoCAD, transforming designs into the packer systems requested by clients.


The most important things about biodynamic farming

 Agriculture has always and will always be an important part of every society. But farming won’t be possible when natural resources are being abused to only meet today’s demands. Sustainable, organic and natural farming have all changed the name of the game in terms of agriculture. Where the appreciation for the products being farmed is a priority and the future is being considered.

And now we have biodynamic farming. Another revolutionary approach to agriculture that is gaining preference and popularity. We’ll be looking at biodynamic farming and the most important things about it that every farmer and person should know.

Biodynamic Farming 
What is biodynamic farming?

Biodynamic farming, or biodynamic agriculture, is similar to organic farming with a few differences. It is a form of agriculture that recognises ecology to have a spirit in nature, making it a holistic, ecological and ethical farming, gardening, food and nutrition practice.

The origin of biodynamic agriculture is based on Dr Rudolf Steiner’s approach to organic farming in 1924 and has since been adapted. Biodynamic farms are seen as a whole organism with a variety of elements that make it up. This would be referring to the farmers, plants, animals, soil and so on. The work that happens on the farm is an attempt to bring and maintain harmony across these elements as a means of supporting the whole organism.

Biodynamic farms work by adapting to the natural landscape, climate and culture. Through that, they promote biodiversity and encourage natural ecosystems. So, where organic farms would either grow crops or raise livestock, biodynamic farms bring the two together. They also strive to use seedlings and bring livestock into the farm from within their farming system so as not to rely on out-sourced products. This means that in order to be certified as a biodynamic farm, the whole living organism is required to be self-sustaining.

They also make use of biodynamic calendars that look to the earth, sun, stars, moon and cosmos to make their farming decisions regarding when to sow, transplant, cultivate and harvest.

What are the advantages of biodynamic farming?

The main advantages of biodynamic farming are that it’s sustainable, natural, nutritious and combats climate change.

  • Sustainable: Not only is a biodynamic farm literally self-sustaining in that it’s responsible for bringing new life onto the farm in order to meet demands, but it also promotes sustainability in its farming practices. It is all about thinking and acting with the future in mind and protecting the limited natural resources that are available.
  • Natural: Being all-natural is an advantage because it means quality and healthy produce. It means there are no harmful chemicals or questionable farming practices that would lead to disease (in consumers or the farm’s plants and livestock). Natural farming methods also lead to more nutritious and tasty food for consumers.
  • Combatants of climate change: Biodynamic farms, because of the humus in their soil, are able to store more carbon in their soil than what other conventional farms can. This means that there is less carbon being released into the air. Biodynamic farms are doing more to add less to the effects of climate change by simply respecting the environments and maintaining their organism.  

What are the disadvantages of biodynamic farming?

A few disadvantages associated with biodynamic and even organic farming don’t have a negative environmental impact but, ultimately, its effects reside in the consumer’s experience. The disadvantages include more time and effort to care for the farm, having smaller yields at harvesting and having to charge more because of those facts.

  • More time and effort: Biodynamic farms require more personal care, time and effort from the farmer’s side. There is more work to be done through a sustainable method and relationships between elements that need to be monitored and maintained than one would find at an industrial farm. But the people who work on biodynamic farms enjoy the work they do, which is a result of that holistic and spiritual approach to farming. So, in their eyes, it’s not a disadvantage.
  • Smaller yields: Because there is more time and effort that goes into biodynamic farming, there are generally smaller yields. It’s also because their farming philosophy requires them to respect and work with the environment. Mass production doesn’t fit with the biodynamic principles.
  • Pay a higher price: As a result of smaller yields and more hands needed to staff the farm, consumers have to pay a higher price for the produce that is then sold from these farms.

Biodynamic farming practices

Any farm can adopt biodynamic farming practices and work towards being a certified biodynamic farm. A few of these sustainable and holistic practices include crop rotation, planting cover crops, introducing organic matter to the soil, recycling and using natural pest protection.

The most important thing about biodynamic farming is to respect the environment and be self-sustainable for future generations.


The process of recycling effluent water and should we drink it?

Many countries around the world are facing a water crisis. For example, The Western Cape in South Africa is currently working through their worst drought in over a century. So when it comes to saving water, recycling water or finding a way to keep up with the water demands of societies and industries, it can be quite a tough job.

But there are a variety of water processes that come to aid in the time of crisis. A popular (and expensive) one we’ve all heard of is desalination, but we will be talking about another potable water process. And that is the recycling of effluent water and distributing it back to the city as clean and usable water. Before we discuss the process, let’s define what effluent water is exactly.

Effluent water is an umbrella term for wastewater or sewage that is excreted from a source (usually as a result of an industrial, commercial or household activity) into the ocean or a river. Basically, it’s not anything you want to be drinking before any treatment processes.

The water recycling process

There are different methods of treating effluent water. And we’ll be exploring some of those stages of the water recycling process which water treatment specialists like PROXA Water, for example, are to follow.  

  • The screening process: The treatment starts with a screening process where the effluent water is filtered in order to remove large foreign objects from the body of water. Depending on the source of the effluent, this could include things such as plastic items, sanitary items, cotton buds, material, stones and sand.   
  • Primary treatment: With the obvious elements removed from the water, it goes into the primary treatment phase where the human waste element can be removed from it. This happens within a settlement tank that allows solids or sludge to sink to the bottom of the tank. This sludge is then frequently scraped off the bottom of the tank and pumped for further anaerobic treatment while the rest of the water is sent for secondary treatment.
  • Secondary treatment: To treat the remaining contaminants in the water, secondary treatment makes use of aeration where bacterial microorganisms digest what’s left of the organic matter. After secondary treatment, the water is deemed clean enough to be pumped back into the rivers.
  • Tertiary treatment: In some cases, there will be a tertiary treatment or disinfection process after secondary treatment. This stage can include another settlement tank, passing through a sand filter and possibly a denitrification or dechlorination process.

The entire water recycling and treatment process ensures that any harmful contaminants are completely removed from the water source to secure it as clean water that can be released for public use again. And if it doesn’t go back into the municipal water system, it can be reused in the environment to maintain habitats or back into the commercial or agricultural sectors.

And in the season of a drought, countries cannot undervalue the aid that recycled water brings during a water crisis. Recycling water is a great way to appreciate and make the most of the limited resource. It’s arguably a process that should be in constant production and not only in the time of a water crisis. It’s a process that creates clean and potable water from the type of water that has the potential to kill those who drink it. Which leads us to the question of should we then drink recycled water based on its pre-treated source?

Should we drink it?  

There is a good chance that you have, at some point in your life, consumed recycled water. And because it’s a process which many societies rely on in order to exercise their basic right to clean water, it must be safe to drink. Here are a few reasons why recycled water is safe option.

  • Namibia has been recycling effluent water into drinking water for over 50 years and has relied on this water supply to get through some of their toughest droughts. There has never been a problem with the recycled water.
  • It doesn’t taste any different to “normal” municipal water and, in some cases, is regarded as cleaner than municipal water. It will never not be safe to drink because of the safety regulations that are required before redistribution.
  • It allows the town, city and country that adopt this practice to add to the sustainability of the earth’s limited water resource. Reusing recycled effluent water is, therefore, an environmentally friendly practice.
  • It’s cheaper than other water sources but not because of quality standards. We've already established that recycled water is considered cleaner and sometimes tastier than municipal water.  

People need to get over the stigma around effluent water and start taking advantage of the safe, drinkable and completely-good-for-you water.


Innovative ways to improve your farm’s income

Being a farmer comes with its own set of perks, such as having access to fresh fruit and vegetables from your crops or organic meat from your livestock. However, it can be tricky to maintain your income during hard times. Applying for plant and machinery finance when you have a tight budget is difficult and stressful, so if you are looking for innovative ways to improve your farm’s income here are some top tips.

Transform some land into the perfect wedding venue
Weddings are big business, as any wedding planner will tell you, and one of the most important aspects of any wedding is the venue. In today’s fast-paced modern world, more and more brides are choosing to have weddings at peaceful, tranquil venues. What could be better than a rustic, elegant farm for the perfect wedding venue?

It might seem like a lot of work, but if you have help and a little guidance from a wedding planner on what brides look for in a wedding venue, you can create a spectacular space for weddings to be held. You can create packages for brides on a budget, or even host conferences and team-building events during times when there are no bookings for venues.

Go glamorous with glamping sites
If you have large enough land, you can set up ‘glamping’ sites for people to enjoy on weekends or during holidays. ‘Glamping’, put simply, is glamorous camping, and involves setting up ‘tents’ with flooring, electricity points or wood burning stoves and comfortable beds.

Glamping is camping for people who do not enjoy roughing it outdoors but still want to experience nature. This makes it the perfect venture for a farm that has stunning surrounds or a lot of land available for guests to explore and glamp in. You will need to get planning consent from your municipality, and you will need to set up the glamping site in an area that is relatively flat and far from your crops and livestock.

Supply food artisans
If you farm vegetables, crops or farm livestock then a lucrative way to make money is to supply artisanal kitchens with your produce. Unlike bigger kitchens which will simply create commercial dishes, a food artisan will use your food to create unique taste experiences for select diners, showcasing the true taste of your produce.

Food artisans who create jams, chutneys and sauces might also be happy with slightly damaged or less-than-perfect options, which can save you from having to get rid of fruits and vegetables that do not meet your standards. If you have certain items in abundance, the chances are that you will find an artisanal chef who is interested in using this product as part of their new menu, and it could mean that you have a return customer during this product’s peak season.

Sell farm by-products
All farmers will, at some point, need equipment finance for their farm, and one easy way to raise the funds for this is to sell the farm by-products that you have on your land. This could be anything from manure from cows and horses to feathers collected from ducks and chickens.

Manure is the perfect product to market to nurseries and garden stores, and feathers can be used in bedding and clothing. You could also sell excess compost that is unused or even sell worm castings or ‘worm wee’, if you have an active worm farm. ‘Worm wee’ is one of the most valuable liquids used in organic gardening today and can provide a steady income when you are not harvesting and selling crops to markets or stores.

Swap knowledge for money
Farm income does not always have to come from selling products, you can use your knowledge as a farmer to make money too. You can host workshops for people who are studying towards an agricultural degree or give talks to schools on the processes that happen on your farm during everyday life.

You do not have to be an expert in the field, but you do have to be entertaining, informed and passionate about your topic. Hosting the event on your farm will further increase your income, as you can set up a conference area and provide food made from the produce of your farm. You could offer schools and universities the option to have regular talks on your farm for students who are interested in agricultural topics.

Be creative
Creativity is one of the most important things to have when thinking of ways to boost your farm’s income. You could provide a stunning wedding, conference or event venue to bring in more customers or offer ‘glamping’ sites to those who enjoy the outdoors without wanting to rough it. If you have by-products you may not be using, you can offer these to nurseries or other industries who use them. The possibilities are endless if you have a little creative spark and the ability to persevere.


The benefits of biodynamic farming for small farms

Eco-friendly farming methods have seen a boom in popularity over the years for both small and large farms, with smaller farms preferring these methods over more conventional ones.

These methods include no-till and biodynamic farming, with biodynamic meaning being very similar to natural farming but including esoteric and spiritual aspects. It is a highly eco-friendly way of farming, but for small farms, there are other unique benefits, as outlined below.

Natural disease and pest control
One of the major benefits of biodynamic farming is that you will eliminate the need to use chemicals for disease and pest control. You will be able to eliminate both weeds and harmful insects naturally, by planting plants that are natural enemies of insect pests. This is known as biological control agents

Using crop rotation is another popular method against crop disease, as it prevents the pests from becoming used to the type of plant that is being cultivated, as well as promotes balanced, healthy soil to protect against pests. By using natural disease and pest control, you will also decrease the amount of chemicals there are in the run-off of your crop fields, reducing the chance of contamination of the soil for your future crops.

It builds healthy soil
One of the most important aspects of farming, whether you are on a small farm or a large commercial farm, is the health of the soil. With conventional farming methods, chemicals are used to fertilise the soil but with biodynamic agriculture, mulch and compost are used instead.

This leads to healthier soil, which also leads to a healthier farm and crops. Natural cultivation practices are essential to creating healthy soil, and these methods include no-till farming. Earthworms are used to provide oxygen to your soil and compost and mulch is used as fertilisers. This will encourage the growth of good, healthy bacteria in the soil, which is vital for creating soil that can thrive on its own and crops that are healthier to eat.

The input costs are lower
As a small farm owner, you know how expensive it can be to have to run equipment on a daily basis for tilling, ploughing and spraying chemicals. However, with biodynamic farming, you do not have to spray chemicals or use machinery to till your land.

This helps you save a huge amount  of your input costs, which you can put towards other more important ventures on your farm, such as farming livestock or introducing new crops to your rotation. Biodynamic agriculture allows you to eliminate the expensive costs of fertiliser and equipment, which is especially useful for small farm owners with a tight budget who cannot afford to maintain expensive equipment.

Your crops become more drought resistant
One major benefit of using organic and biodynamic farming methods is that the goal is to plant crops that are suited to your climate. This means that your crops will become more drought resistant, which is ideal for more arid areas and can also reduce crop damage from unsuitable weather.

Drought resistant crops are popular among biodynamic farmers because it allows the farmers to use drip irrigation methods as well as timed irrigation methods. Having crops that do not need to be watered as much will not only save water but will also allow you to save on irrigation equipment costs. Planting crops that are suited to your climate is one of the major tenets of biodynamic farming, making it highly desirable in drier climates, such as the Karoo and other Northern Cape areas.

It combats soil erosion
Soil erosion is an issue that many farms face, especially smaller farms that might have less space for surface-water runoff and for root growth. By using biodynamic methods like no-till farming, you are actively preventing soil erosion from happening.

Organic farming creates healthy topsoil. This  prevents runoff from the crops causing erosion and it helps to maintain soil moisture and alleviate compacted soil, which is one of the contributing factors of soil erosion. Soil erosion is a serious blight for many farms, which is why you should look into adopting biodynamic agriculture or at least organic farming practices which can help to improve your soil health and reduce erosion.

It supports animal welfare
As a small farm owner, you most likely have an abundance of animal and insect life on your farm. This can include anything from the fish in the ponds on your land to the livestock you farm. Biodynamic methods encourage and support animal welfare by causing less harm to the environment.

Organic farming methods encourage you to use natural pest and disease repelling methods, such as inviting in insects that are predators to pests or using ducks to eat snails off of wine grapes. Animals that live on organic farms are exposed to clean, chemical-free grazing that helps them naturally healthy and resistant to illnesses associated with conventional farming methods. Supporting animal welfare is beneficial to both the environment and to your farm’s health.