Our rural community’s lack of access to basic resources, such as electricity or running water, presents some of our most pressing challenges. Yet, this circumstance makes our community’s lifestyle inherently environmentally sustainable. In many rural and remote communities like ours, people have found ways to adapt to their environment and live sustainably in our modern world without relying on high-energy consumption technology or infrastructure.
Since launching Bulungula Incubator, we have powered all of our projects (preschools, tablet e-learning, radio, high school, health point, seedling nursery and main office) with solar electricity. We power our lights, phones, WiFi, computers, printers, water pumps, refrigerators and other electrical appliances without relying on fossil fuels— all with the perk of no load shedding. Since we are mindful of our energy consumption, we use energy-efficient technologies.
Water is scarce in our community, and we ensure that every drop is used wisely. We have rainwater capture tanks to collect water for drinking and washing, and we use non-flushing compost toilets to save water. We dry the faecal waste for 12-months and use it as fertiliser in our gardens. We recycle water by creating a wet sponge with banana and papaya trees. The trees send their roots down into this damp nutritious sponge and grow big and super fast, which converts dirty water into healthy, juicy fruits eaten for snacks at our preschool.
We garden at our sites to create a local food system. This reduces the carbon footprint of food transportation and supports sustainable agriculture practices. Since our community has roaming livestock, food scraps are composted immediately, reducing waste and providing natural fertiliser for crops and grazing fields. We get the rest of our food, goods and project materials delivered in bulk to reduce transport emissions further.
Paper and cardboard are burned, and the rest of our waste is brought to a Municipal designated dumping area. However, we produce far less overall waste because we live far from access to luxury items and consumer goods. Since we are responsible for removing our waste, we are mindful of our consumption and reuse or mend resources.
100% of our employees live and work in the communities we serve. The majority of our employees walk to work or utilise ride-sharing every day, significantly reducing carbon emissions. Our local eco-lodge, Bulungula Lodge, further models environmental sustainability, sharing our community’s lifestyle with tourists from around the world.
Since last year, our community is finally being connected to the electrical grid. In Nqileni Village, where our offices are located, electrical poles and infrastructure are still being installed, but the other three communities we operate in now have working grid-electricity. While our community will grow and develop with the introduction of grid-electricity, we will continue to use our sustainable approach to ensure a smaller environmental footprint.
In an era that demands change to save our planet, we can take notes from our rural communities, leaders in self-reliance and eco-friendly living.