South Africa’s online shoppers given opportunity to shop more sustainably

South African shoppers have been given the opportunity to shop more sustainably by carbon offsetter, ReSpek Nature, and leading online retailer,

In a first for both entities, shoppers will be shown a message at checkout asking if they would like to offset the carbon footprint of their shopping basket by donating just R10 to ReSpek Nature’s spekboom planting programme in the Karoo.

Shoppers who respond positively will receive an electronic certificate confirming that they ‘planted’ a spekboom in the Karoo, along with the GPS coordinates of exactly where it was planted on their behalf.

According to the Climate Collaborative (, on average, packaging accounts for about 5% of the energy used in the life cycle of a food product making it a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.

And for some products, not only food, the packaging used has an even bigger impact on climate change than the fuel used to ship it to market.

“But, nature’s many mechanisms are very effective in absorbing carbon dioxide, or CO₂, and locking it back into the soil, plant matter or the oceans,” said ReSpek Nature’s founder, Guy Lieberman

““Plants breathe in CO₂ and use the carbon to grow, and the hardy spekboom has ability to take up CO₂ in the cool of night. This water saving ability, together with its capacity capture CO₂ in the vast and variable Karoo of the Eastern Cape in South Africa, gives it a crucial role in helping to restore thicket vegetation,” added the post-doctoral researcher at the Rhodes Restoration Research Group (Department of Environmental Science), Kathleen Smart.

“Endemic to the Eastern Cape, spekboom has the specialised traits to not only survive in harsh environment but bring other benefits to landscape, providing forage for animals, allowing for water infiltration and protection from soil erosion,” she said.

“It’s simple: want to help nature combat CO2 emissions, in a small way? Plant a spekboom through ReSpek Nature” Lieberman said.

Explaining why his company is working with ReSpek Nature, CEO, Pinni Goodman, added: “Every time you purchase something, a small amount of CO2 is released into the atmosphere. The production, packaging and delivery of your package all takes energy, which creates the pollution.

“And we know consumers worldwide are looking for ways to shop more sustainably. According to Nielsen’s 2018 report Consumers Buy the Change They Wish to See in the World, most people (73% of respondents) want to reduce their impact on the planet.

“The majority would pay more for eco-friendly products: 58% of Gen Z (16-21 years of age), 61% of Millennials (22-35), 55% of Gen X (36-54) and 46% of Baby Boomers (55- 64), according to the GlobalWebIndex Q2 2018.

“We are thrilled that, through ReSpek Nature, we have an opportunity to offer our shoppers a way to offset the CO₂ their consumption causes,” he said.

The ReSpek collaboration is being assisted by the Nahana Foundation, the corporate social investment arm of the Nahana Communications Group.

Tasked with leveraging Nahana’s rich creative experience across its various agencies and marketing industry support companies to maximise non-profit clients’ marketing efforts and influence positive change in South Africa, the Nahana Foundation asked McCann1886 to step up to the plate for ReSpek Nature and deliver all the creative elements its online contribution campaign requires.

Any shopper who opts to click YES to ReSpek’s message will also be contributing to job creation and empowerment in the Karoo. Spekboom, like so many other plants, is easily cultivated through cuttings, or truncheons, taken from mature spek.

ReSpek works with a women’s co-op, New Horizons, who are sewing the hessian pots into which the truncheons are planted to root. When they are rooted, bag and all are planted. The hessian holds the roots to give them a solid start to being strong and healthy, decomposing slowly over time.

Any spekboom planted through the initiative will initially be planted into the Giant Flag, but has the potential to expand onto farms, national parks and municipal land both in the Karoo and in other parts of the country, to further assist in the essential thicket restoration.

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