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Interview with Natalie Goedhals from Nature and Me
Natalie Goedhals is an entrepreneur, a surfer and a mindfulness and sustainability campaigner. She’s also out to make a difference in South Africa and beyond, one less plastic bag at a time. We love digging deeper into the lives of do-gooding businesswomen, and so here’s more on our Q&A with Natalie (including her delicious fuss-free Baked Italian Chicken Recipe!)…
Where Did It All Start?
Our journey began in 2016 where our dream was to create a company focusing on ethical, sustainable, high-quality goods and wherever possible providing social upliftment and empowerment to local people within our community.
Our greatest motivation is helping people to see their own personal impact on our environment and realising that EVERY. SINGLE. person can make a difference.
What’s Your Product Focus?
We revisited some everyday disposable items and have tried and change the way people think about the wasteful habits we have created. We wanted to create re-useable eco friendly products which are not only user friendly but also fresh, fun and modern.
The concept was born from the idea of zero waste living, or at least moving towards these ideologies. We are planting the seed for people to do what is right for our environment and the future of our planet.
Tell Us More About Your Fresh Product Bags?
Our first product created has been our Fresh Produce bags which were started out of frustration in having to use cheap, breakable plastic bags for carrying fresh produce. These Fresh Produce bags are lightweight so fresh produce can be weighed in them, and they can hold up to 2kg of produce.
Being a surfer myself and seeing first hand the number of plastic bags floating in our oceans has always struck a nerve with me. Perhaps one of the many drivers behind our passion is creating global awareness and consciousness.
Disposable plastic bags may seem convenient but are the worlds greatest source of pollution. According to research conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, somewhere between five hundred billion and one trillion disposable bags are used each year around the world.
Plastic bags, while only used for an average of about twelve minutes, remain in landfills, oceans, and other places for thousands of years, causing death and destruction in their wake.
Along with the negative impacts of plastic bags on the environment and wildlife, they are also increasingly expensive for consumers and taxpayers. While at most places, plastic bags are given out for free, retailers in South Africa alone spend billions of Rands each year on them. These costs are then passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices for products.
Many hours have gone into designing, developing and producing the best products possible and we have many new, fantastic ideas in the pipeline and look forward to sharing them with you in the near future.
What was the “uh huh” moment that made you pursue your idea of fresh produce bags? For as long as I can remember I have always been passionate about nature and grew up with salty hair and barefoot on the beach. I was a competitive surf lifesaver, loved to surf and paddle surf ski. I had always been very conscious of the litter and plastics that I found floating in our oceans and would often attach a packet to my ski and collect any rubbish that I saw floating around.
A year ago I watched a movie on the zero waste movement, and I was blown away! It shocked me to my core at the mindless shopping I had been doing for so many years. I took note of all the plastic that I personally was consuming and soon realized that I can actually make a difference, and that each and every person can make a difference.
Single use plastic is destroying our earth. When something is mass produced by the millions used only once, for a few seconds, and then thrown away. Where did we as a society ever think that this was normal? Where does this all go? And how much are we personally adding to the problem?
I learnt that plastic bags, including plastic fresh produce bags, are the greatest source of pollution in our oceans today. With my change in lifestyle, I decided to approach someone to make me some re-useable fresh produce bags.
The lady I approached is a phenomenal women, she is 72 years of age, and full of energy. She owns a sewing room and has for many years been teaching underprivileged ladies how to sew, and where possible, providing them with job opportunities.
The idea grew when we realized just how wonderful these bags were and that we could potentially make a difference. We hope to reduce plastic consumption one bag at a time, educate people about the effects of single use plastic as well as supporting these wonderful local ladies. We now have 3 full time ladies manufacturing our bags and we can only hope to grow in future!
When did you realise that sharing tips and advice on the practicing of conscious consumerism and living well was what you wanted to make a career out of?
I am actually a CA by profession, and currently work in corporate, so this was really just a love project for me.
I am so passionate about this cause as I know that every bag we sell is making a difference. Hopefully by people seeing others use them we can slowly spread the message. There must be many others, who, like me, just didn’t stop to think about it.
I believe that shoppers should be given a choice and that our huge grocery outlets should be a part of this change in helping educate their consumers. We are all aware of the re-useable shopping bags that stores are making available to consumers, why not re-useable fresh produce bags as well.
Your advice on ‘where to start’ for people who are totally overwhelmed?
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I suggest you start with the basics and cut out these 5 items:
- Plastic bags
- Plastic produce bags
- Plastic water bottles
- Plastic straws
- Plastic cutlery
If you can practice conscious consumerism in your everyday life and really think about your personal footprint that you are leaving behind, I promise you, you will be astounded by the change and just how simple it is.
Tea or coffee?
What is your favourite indulgence of choice?
Dark chocolate (blue) Lindt balls and for dessert it will have to be your banana, rum and hazelnut crumble – It is so quick to make and always a hit with the children when my husband flambee’s the banana. (The children get the rum free ones of course)
Favourite quick fix recipe (please include pic)?
Italian Baked Chicken – Prep time 10 min and cooking time 30 min. This is my quick go to meal on the days where I just don’t have time.
3-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon of pesto per chick breast
1 cup chopped mushrooms
2 cups grated cheese
1 can diced tomatoes (not the tomato and onion mix)
2 cloves fresh garlic
4-6 fresh basil leaves
2 sprigs fresh oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. Place chicken breasts in a row in a casserole dish
3. Season lightly with salt and pepper
4. Drizzle the chicken breasts with olive oil and add a teaspoon of pesto on top of each chicken breast
5. Pour the tin of diced tomatoes over the chicken and ensure evenly coated.
6. Sprinkle the chopped garlic, mushrooms, cheddar cheese, basil and oregano on top
7. Bake uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes
Advice for keeping a good work-life balance?
Take a deep breath and remember what is truly important. We as people need to connect, with loved ones and with nature and without this connection I cannot believe that one can be truly happy.
Surround yourself with a good support system. My husband is incredibly hands-on and we have a wonderful nanny and grandparents that will drop anything to be with our children. I count my blessing every day!
Be present and give your full energy. I often turn off my phone on weekends and I always feel like I have had a holiday when I am back at work on the Monday. I also try not take my work home with me and ensure that when I am home I give my children and husband my full energy.
Exercise. I firmly believe in the power of exercise. It clears my mind and instead of sapping my energy, I feel energized and motivated. You can always find the time, I only exercise early in the morning when the children are sleeping so that I don’t take that time away from them.
Be quiet. Because it is only when you are quiet do you gain perspective and where you can appreciate all that you have.
3 tips for woman entrepreneurs?
1. Consider advice from others but in the end always stay true to yourself and your vision for your company. Don’t be afraid to show your beautiful authentic self in the products you create / ideas that you have.
2. Don’t be scared of what others may think, I have learnt that there are many skeptics out there. People are scared of change and of people who think differently. Believe in yourself and don’t be scared to break the mould.
3. It is fundamental to have love for your vision, your work, yourself and the people that you encounter on an everyday basis. Nothing can be accomplished without love, this is what makes you jump out of bed in the morning and work hard at whatever it is that you are doing.
3 foods you cannot live without?
Greek yogurt, Avocados and homemade rusks (Our jar is never empty)
What is your go-to snack on the run?
Date balls, made in any which way ~ cocoa, cranberries, oats, coconut, honey whatever I have available (it’s the easiest health snack with young children in the house).
What makes you the happiest?
Being at home – we have put so much love into our home that it just oozes ‘us’ in every way. It is so peaceful and full of love that I feel I can really just take a deep breath and enjoy listening to the children play or enjoy a good cup of coffee and a chat with my husband. Being creative, oceans swims, a good surf or surfski paddle, a trail run with the girls, connecting with special friends and family, hearing my children laugh and making them laugh.