Sym and Nurturer stand up against pollution

For many Marina residents, the sense of optimism inspired by the returning rains is often dampened by the deluge of rubbish they unleash on our vlei. Every year, the same question arises: what will it take to protect our fragile environment from the scourge of man-made waste, especially plastics?

As far as Symantha van Niekerk is concerned, the answer comes down to personal choice. “It’s up to each individual to stand up for the environment by cutting down the amount of waste they personally generate,” she says. “Everyone has the freedom and the opportunity to do the right thing by aiming for zero waste. We just have to find the right place to start.”

Symantha started her personal journey towards zero waste around seven years ago, when she started using the earth-friendly cleaning products sold by local social enterprise, Nurturer. Not only are these premium quality products very affordable, but their environmental footprint is significantly smaller than equivalent products sold through mainstream retail outlets. For a start, Nurturer products are biodegradable and most are grey water-friendly, which is particularly relevant in the Marina.

Importantly, buying Nurturer products doesn’t just benefit the environment. All net profits generated by its sales go to a non-profit organisation called Life Choices, which is dedicated to tackling inequality by investing in youth from the Cape Flats. Its work focuses on six specific areas that it believes are essential to young people’s wellbeing: employment, health, education, family stability, citizenship and, since 2020, responding to COVID. As Symantha explains: “With our customers’ support, we are able to empower youth to attend school, find employment and take control of their own lives.”

Symantha has lived in the Marina for the last seven years with her husband, Brendan, and two children, Elizabeth, aged five, and Edward, aged four. “This is the best place to live with the best quality of family life,” she says. “We tried to leave once but came back as soon as we could!”

She recently became a Nurturer agent, re-selling its products to a growing number of local customers from her home in Uitsig. Significantly, she is the first Nurturer agent to offer customers the option of buying their cleaning products in refillable containers, a move that will help to reduce pollution caused by single-use plastics.

As well as offering refillable containers, Sym also sells around 25 personal and domestic cleaning products from the Nurturer range, which you can browse on the current price list here.

As Symantha emphasises: “Going green doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive and green products are just as effective as less sustainable alternatives. If your end-goal is zero waste, there’s nothing stopping you from getting there and choosing Nurturer products is a great place to start.”

Start your journey

You can start your own zero-waste journey by joining Symantha’s dedicated WhatsApp group for Nurturer customers.

Meet the Marina gardening team

We’re proud to introduce the team that has been doing such fantastic work around the Marina’s parks and open spaces in recent months.

Led by Staffa Hussein, they are Kondwani Chawanda, Lester Andreck, Hastings Imran, Peter Chirwa and John Banda.

The team spends every Tuesday working in rotation between Uitsig, Park Island and Eastlake/Canon Island. Under the supervision of the MDGA’s four gardening reps – Andie Pycroft, Silvia Stringer, Koemi Rowe and Tina Roberts – they have made a real and very visible difference to our neighbourhood.

Commenting on the Marina gardeners’ contribution, Lise Carswell, who holds the MDGA ExCom’s Parks & Open Spaces portfolio, says: “I am so proud of the work Staffa and his team have done in the last year. The parks and open spaces are looking better than ever. Our fabulous garden reps are coming up with new ideas and really putting a lot of thought into keeping our beautiful suburb looking incredible.”

Hopefully, other residents agree with Lise’s assessment.

Introducing Staffa

When did you set up the Marina gardeners team?

We set it up in April 2021 after many discussions in 2020.

How long have you been in the gardening business?

I first got into the gardening business in 2009, when Marina da Gama was looking for a gardener and got my name from Link. Toni Joubert was the gardening rep at the time and taught me so much. I was also sent on a gardening course led by Gerri Goldblatt, which culminated in a visit to Kirstenbosch.

What are your main challenges?

Gardening in the sandy soils of the Cape Flats is always a challenge. My favourite plant is the restio because not even the southeaster can blow it out of its natural shape.

What have you enjoyed most about the job so far?

I learned so much from Toni Joubert while Richard Midgley and Scott Attfield also gave me a great deal of encouragement as ExCom members. Working with the four gardening reps has been another highlight. Our work is very varied and we do everything from tree pruning to waterwise gardening.

Can you tell us about your family?

I am married to Sophie and we live in Cape Town. We have four children, who are all in Malawi. Our first-born, Kondwani, is studying agribusiness. Our second-eldest, Hope, writes his matric next month, while their twin sisters, Annie and Fatima, are in Grade 9.

A final word?

Many thanks to the Marina residents for appreciating the work we do.

Why not hire a Marina gardener?

If your garden needs a pre-summer lift, why not hire one or more members of the Marina gardening team? The quality of their work speaks for itself and they are always keen to pick up extra jobs wherever possible. From routine maintenance and clearing to more complex tasks, they are available any day – except, of course, Tuesday. Staffa charges a daily rate of R300 for each team member working an 8-hour day between 8.30 and 16.30, with one hour for lunch. To find out more, give Staffa a call on 074 416 4109.