We are all becoming more aware of the importance of healthier, more sustainable and more conscious living. It hasn’t always been that way. Have you ever thought of how, exactly, did that ball start rolling to reach this snowball effect? It was people like you and me that gave it the push. And I’d like to introduce you to some of those people, while celebrating the actual projects that, together, provide the possibilities for a more sustainable and holistic lifestyle.
These people are pioneers of sustainable action and education in Malta and they deserve recognition for their positive impact on society and the planet. These would be our Malta Sustainability Awards.
For the earth and society: Peppi Gauci - permaculturist
Founder of the Bahrija Oasis and the Permaculture Research Foundation in Malta, Peppi Gauci instigated a local movement from monoculture to permaculture. Permaculture is a set of design principles centered on ‘whole systems thinking’ that applies the features and patterns observed in natural ecosystems in various fields, from regenerative agriculture to community resilience.
Peppi holds an MSc in Architecture, Advanced Environment and Energy Studies and has worked on various drylands design projects in Australia, Bali, the UK and Malta. With the setup of Bahrija Oasis in Malta fourteen years ago, he turned a piece of arid land into a lush natural haven and centre for permaculture education. He established the Permaculture Research Foundation Malta and taught a range of courses, including a recognised Diploma in Permaculture Design. Since the introduction of permaculture in Malta, several individuals and organisations have adopted it as the basis of their work with the land and the community.
For personal well-being: Lydia Oukhaneva - complementary therapies & preventive healthcare
Focusing on alternative medicine, nutrition and meditation, Lydia Oukhaneva is an advocate of complementary therapies and preventive healthcare in Malta. She founded the Angka Cafe Rejuvenation Centre & Green Clinic as an educational health food cafe and healing centre using unconventional holistic methods.
A qualified psychiatrist, but quickly disillusioned by conventional practice, she abandoned it to adopt the methods of Transpersonal Psychology by Dr Stanislav Grof, a student of Gustav Jung, which proposes a holistic method for dealing with emotional issues and addiction. The system of Holotropic Breathwork uses particular breathing patterns to access non-ordinary states for the purpose of self-exploration and stress management through catharsis therapy. Indeed, Lydia is a strong believer in bridging Western medicine with Eastern wisdom, and science with spirituality, with the patient seen as a whole organism rather than a disease to combat by professional ambitions or opinions. When she developed a tumor, she refused chemotherapy after the op and adopted diet, discipline, meditation and prayer to purify her body and support its self-healing from cancer. Needless to say, Lydia is an inspiration to all who meet her and her work is favoured by those who prefer to take an active rather than a passive role in their health and well-being.
For farming and good food: Emanuela De Giorgio - food awareness, education and supply
Emanuela De Giorgio left a successful career in Hospitality Marketing to become a farmer, after recognising the need for better education about good, local and healthy food. She focuses on promoting local, fresh produce and educational events through The Veg Box. Beginning at Villa Bologna, the work at the Veg Box included growing non-certified organic produce at the gardens and conducting workshops for school children to promote education about good food. Emanuela is also the woman behind the concept of the TV programme Artna and is a regular speaker at talks and workshops by related committees.
Moving the Veg Box to Manikata, the work has evolved into a more direct support of local farmers through an extremely charming vegetable shop. Emanuela has successfully reduced the bridge between farmer and consumer by building the trust of her clients, who prefer to purchase their food from a friendly and trusted local farmer, and support home-grown. In Manikata, the focus is on educating and supporting young adults to live more sustainable lives through a series of workshops related to wellbeing, food and farming, intended to create immediate positive impact through behavioural change.
For the environment: Adrian Gatt - conscious pro-active citizen driving a tree-growing project
Adrian Gatt is an ordinary family guy with an ordinary job, but what he set in motion has had a huge impact on the local environment. His endeavour, The Grow 10 Trees Project, which he set up two years ago together with his then 14-year-old son, aims to encourage citizens to take a pro-active role in increasing the presence of trees in Malta by growing them and finding suitable places, such as squares and schools, where they can be planted while reassuring their proper ongoing care.
The group was created to assist proactive citizens to grow and nurture at least 10 local trees or more, even in a very small corner in the garden, yard or even balcony. The intention is that they can be used for afforestation within the Maltese Archipelago once a suitable area is earmarked with the help of Central Government or other NGOs. The page provides information about how to obtain seeds and cuttings, and hints on when and how to sow or plant them. Hundreds of Maltese people are now growing trees for Malta and some pro-actively talk to local councils to locate areas for planting.
For business administration: Yasmin De Giorgio, conscious entrepreneurship
Yasmin De Giorgio is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for creating brands that promote health and well-being. She believes that profit should not be the only measure of value, and strives to create workplaces that inspire change. Wishing to create businesses that offer services that increase health, promote well-being and counter the stress epidemic, Yasmin began her entrepreneurial journey starting up her own green food van, the Grassy Hopper, then several cafes under the same name, and then Sanya, an 'eco' spa.
The Grassy Hopper pioneered the vegetarian movement and introduced compostable take-away containers; several more health food vans and establishments have sprouted since, mostly following the same green vision. The holistic Sanya Eco Spa is also an unusual variation on the conventional spa, with very specific green and holistic policies in place. Meanwhile, Yasmin's workshops on conscious entrepreneurship continue to benefit everyone at large by educating on how to manage a business to create a positive impact on the wider society with a win-win-win situation for the employer, employees and consumers.
For sustainable entertainment: Gayle Murphy, events sustainability
Gayle Murphy has almost single-handedly transformed the local event scene, focusing on lessening the impact on the three pillars of sustainability: social, environmental and economic. Through Global Green Events, she designs and implements sustainability policy and strategy for umbrella organisations, such as Valletta 2018 and Festivals Malta, and DMCs. Now a worldwide public speaker, Gayle also puts a lot of effort into workshops and training sessions to empower and inspire every individual to believe they can make a difference so that together, "we can co-create a brighter, more sustainable future".
With plenty of experience stemming from well-established sustainable events worldwide, Gayle set out to make every international event or festival sustainable. With her home-base in Malta, local events such as Earth Garden began to benefit from tailor-made sustainability plans, policy and systems implementation, engagement, supply chain management and reporting. This has now branched into organisations, private companies and hospitality through her consultancy Strategic Roots, and Restaurant & Bar Certification Sustainable Eats & Treats. An online course on successful sustainability and information about how to go green is now available to anybody who wishes to make a positive and sustainable difference within their business.
Have you ever thought what YOU could do to create a more sustainable future for humankind? Feel inspired!