While the Rooibos industry has always had environmental preservation at heart, an increased global demand for the tea has compelled the industry to more proactively review its impact across its value chain.
Nicie Vorster, a director of the SA Rooibos Council (SARC) says the industry is renewing its focus on sustainability.
“Ecosystems all over the world are being destabilised due to human impacts. Our warming climate, water scarcity, extreme weather, the increase in infectious diseases and loss of biodiversity are all effects of human intervention. There is such a close link between Rooibos and its environment where climate and weather conditions directly influence production. While agricultural practices can be adapted, changes such as increased temperatures, water shortages and weather extremes create challenges for Rooibos farmers and agriculture as a whole.
“It is important to realise that all of our actions play a part. To address and mitigate the effects of climate change require a collective effort by businesses, NGOs, development organisations and policymakers, and the Rooibos industry too has a role to play. The changes that have over time taken place within the sector, as part of its goal to becoming more sustainable, have already begun to yield, and will continue to deliver, consistent, positive social and environmental outcomes, while also strengthening the economic viability of the sector.”
To symbolically demonstrate the industry’s uncompromising commitment to sustainability, the SARC has constructed a visually impactful public art installation to culminate with World Environment Day, which falls on Saturday, 5 June.
Mixed media artist, Gina Waldman was commissioned for the art installation, which consists of almost 2 000 cups of various Rooibos tea blends that have been carefully positioned to form a globe when viewed from atop.
The artwork is intended to draw viewers in to take a closer look and decipher the meaning of the work.
“We want the public to engage with the artwork and hope that it will assist in the transition towards a more eco-conscious and sustainable society. It serves as a powerful reminder that we all need to play our part in our everyday lives to protect and restore our beautiful planet.”
The 40m² art installation took 70+ hours, a design team of eight and 320 litres of tea to perfect, and can be viewed at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in Roodepoort up until 5 June.
Vorster says they chose to illustrate their pledge towards social and environmental stewardship in a creative way, because art has the ability to connect with people on emotional and subliminal levels, sometimes inspiring a heightened appreciation for nature or a re-evaluation of human progress. In a way, art connects people to our living environment. “It helps to shape how we view and understand the world, encouraging discussion – in this case about environmental and sustainability issues and often brings people together to unite behind a common cause.”
Curious to know how this installation progressed? Click here to watch the video.