Saturday, 19 August 2017

An experience at Decorex

The past two weeks have been full and energising. I spent last week in Jo'burg for the Decorex show, a home and design expo held at Gallagher Convention Centre. My mom came along to help on the stand. I'm so glad that she did because we were non-stop busy with visitors. She has her own YOLO Compost Tumbler so she knows how it works and by the end of the week she was a composting demonstration pro.

Me and Liz in our expo outfits - complete with gardening wellies.
We were located in Hall 4 - Outdoor Lifestyle, which suited us perfectly.

Over the five days of the expo we spoke to hundreds of people and demonstrated how to use our compost tumblers. We had all three of our sizes on the stand - small (left), medium (top right) and large (bottom right). We pulled the large out of the oven on the Monday night, just in time to take it to the show for setup the next morning! We're still busy with R&D on this unit to finalise the amount of plastic needed, the frame and other bits. It will be ready in a few weeks.

A photo wall with photos of our YOLO Compost Tumblers sent to us from customers.
Expo days are long and tiring but the experience was totally worth it. We had some on-the-day sales and have had other post-expo. I think these will trickle in steadily over the next few months. Many people that we met were about to move or in the process of building new homes.

For us the big benefit of the expo was in meeting and talking to people. We were astounded by how many people are separating their trash, recycling and trying to reduce the waste that comes into and out of their homes. In dealing with organic waste, our YOLO Compost Tumbler is an excellent solution, especially where you just don't have space for a heap or if you're just looking for a way to compost kitchen waste - like in an apartment (no garden) or townhouse (tiny to no garden).

Many people that we met are composting - to some degree. They're trying wormeries, bokashi, hot bins and the like. This is great because it shows that more and more people are giving value to composting as a means to deal with organic waste and they give value to the compost itself.

I've felt so despondent recently around waste and recycling. If there is one thing that is a big problem in my home town of Parys, it is litter. It really is a serious problem. In the week before Decorex, I was at Pick 'n Pay, packing my groceries into my reusable shopping bags. I looked down the row of checkouts and saw that I was the only person there not using - and buying every time - PNP's plastic shopping bags! (no, they didn't pull old bags out of their handbags to reuse, these were crisp and new)

Coming back from Decorex I'm far more optimistic that there is change happening. 

Nice way to see the size difference between the medium (2 x 100 litre shells) and large (2 x 200 litre shells).
As a result of being at Decorex, we have added two new colours to our range - grey and earth. We met a number of people in complexes and estates where they are restricted from having brightly-coloured items that do not go with the colour scheme of the place. Our new colours go well with each other and they also pair beautifully with our existing green, orange and yellow colours. I fetched plastic from our supplier on Thursday and we'll be moulding the first of the new colour units on Monday.

We also learned a bunch of other things from the visitors to our stand:

  • Many are not composting but they want to. They're currently tossing all of their kitchen waste and garden waste out with the trash. They want to do better.
  • People think that compost smells. A healthy compost should smell earthy. Good health is achieved by adding a mix of wet and dry materials and regular tumbling.
  • Different areas of Jo'burg have rat problems. The rats go for compost heaps and so people have stopped composting as a way to prevent rats coming to their gardens. Our YOLO Compost Tumbler is a closed unit with a lockable latch. Rats, mice, monkeys and dogs can't get into it.
A jar of 8-week old, unfinished compost from my small YOLO Compost Tumbler at home. The jar started off almost full and by the end of the expo it has reduced in volume by half - natural composting process. These jars of compost were really useful to show people what unfinished compost looks like, why it needs to mature (for the last-added contents to compost and catch up to the first-added contents) and for them to smell the mix ("not bad", "earthy", "amazing" were some comments).

A jar of finished compost from my YOLO Compost Tumbler at home. This mix is just kitchen waste with egg shells, torn up egg trays and dry leaves to balance the wet materials from the kitchen. Again people were amazed that it doesn't smell. Friends, compost shouldn't smell bad. The only time it smells bad is if it is too wet and it doesn't have enough oxygen. It's the anaerobic decomposition that makes it smell nasty. This tumbler shell that I emptied (and put some into a jar) was my 5th shell emptied since mid January, when I was using a prototype tumbler. I weighted the contents of the shell when I emptied it - 7.5kg! And mostly just kitchen waste that had composted. Amazing!
We're quite certain that 10 years ago - and even five years ago - our YOLO Compost Tumbler would be a harder sell. Times have changed and people are becoming more conscious and aware of the state of the environment and that we have to do our bit in our homes. Our timing is just right.

When you hear reports that there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050, scientists are not being alarmist. Just looking around me at the litter in my town, this statement is hardly surprising.

Over the past 18 months, since I moved to Parys, I've been making small changes to our household to reduce the waste coming into our home and what we put out on garbage day.

The most significant changes include filling up glass bottles with milk instead of buying two-litre plastic containers, composting all of our kitchen and garden waste and, recently, taking my own fabric bags to the store to buy loose items like bananas, ginger, garlic and rolls. As a result, we've downsized our trash bin twice and are now down to a waste paper bin for our weekly household trash. I'm sure we can do better too.

The road with our new company is still long. This experience at Decorex was immensely valuable for speaking to people and making new contacts. There are a number of exciting opportunities to come.

No comments: