August is women’s month and so we are looking for women who work hard every day and still get very little recognition. Who better to fit this bill than domestic workers? And they play such a powerful role in how a house is run and managed. That’s why we were chuffed to find out about Green Touch, who is teaching domestic workers how to green up the homes they manage and create awareness in those families. This is such a good idea!
Kerry Davis started Green Touch nearly two years ago. ‘It was started out of necessity really. I remember driving around one day thinking that I wish someone could come into my home and help me green it. I have always been passionate about the outdoors and environmental issues, but didn’t know how to implement real products and practices into my own home.’
‘I thought it would be great to just have some honest practical advice. That’s when I thought of putting a business together that helps other folk like me. There is so much noise in the green space and Green Touch filters that noise for the consumer.’
There are 2 levels of training. In Level 1 there are 10 basic steps to green your home. Level 2 is a much more advanced programme, which includes installing solar panels or insulation.
‘I have two women that help me in Johannesburg with administration and consultation, and another consultant who is based in Durban,’ Davis said.
Making basic changes for the environment
Green Touch will assess your home and teach you about making basic changes that are simple, effective and inexpensive. This non-radical concept of making your home more sustainable has proven to save money on basic yet necessary elements, like water and electricity.
‘The payback is huge; in the short term the ‘do good, feel good’ ethos is always a bonus. In the long term, you are nurturing the planet for your children and grandchildren. There are few better gifts,’ Davis said.
‘With all the greening of homes, I realised that some of my clients were reluctant to change their detergents to more environmentally friendly options or implement recycling, because of the resistance they would get from their domestic staff. This is when I started doing domestic training too.’
‘Most of our domestic workers run our homes and they are the ones intended to deal with detergents, recycled products and worm farms,’ Davis said. Green Touch encourages staff to apply this new knowledge in their own homes too.
It really works
Mandy Joughin, a Green Touch client in Craighall, Johannesburg, is very happy with the change the training course brought about in her domestic worker, Beauty Ndlovu.
‘Beauty attended Green Touch’s domestic worker training in March. Up to that point my efforts to introduce green cleaning products in my home were met with reluctance and scepticism. She could not believe that green products could clean properly. Kerry not only managed to convey the importance of going green, but was also convincing enough about the cleaning properties of such friendly products.’
She adds: ‘Beauty has become a major agent for change in our house. She is educating my children and myself about saving water and electricity and recycling. I have spent many long minutes waiting for the kettle to boil, before realising that it has been switched off at the wall. She is even spreading the word internationally. The ‘wonder bag’ demonstration was so effective that her mother, who lives on a farm in Zimbabwe, is now using it to cook – thereby saving a lot of firewood. I cannot recommend this course highly enough.’
Green Touch’s training course covers the following:
- Green cleaning – they teach domestic workers the how’s and why’s of using green detergents. Not only for their own health benefits but also from an environmental point of view.
- Recycling – the how’s, why’s and what’s to recycle – a detailed session on recycling. Many people don’t know what can be recycled and why.
- Worm farms – what and how to feed worms in a worm farm as well as how to make compost tea.
- Vegetable gardening – Green Touch offers a very basic introduction to growing your own vegetables, as well as a timetable of when to grow certain veggies.
- Wonderbag – how and why to cook in a Wonderbag. They give a ‘live’ example – using a sample dish of either mealie meal or rice. Domestic staff are instantly convinced and impressed with the uses of the Wonderbag. We start off the training with the Wonderbag and place a dish into the bag to cook.
- By the time we have covered all the other aspects, the meal is ready for sampling.’ They combine this with an explanation on the saving of electricity and gas and the effect of carbon emissions.
- Basic environmental tips
- Basic water and energy saving tips for around the home.
The training costs R 275 per domestic worker and takes about 2 hours to complete. Each domestic staff member then receives a ‘goodie’ bag, which consists of the following:
- sample of green cleaning detergents
- a strip of reel gardening to start their own vegetables growing
- laminated sheet to stick onto the fridge, covering all the aspects learnt in the session as a reminder
- a sheet showing when to plant and grow which vegetables
- small sample sachet of vermi-compost (from earth worms)
- certificate of attendance.
‘The programme is working very well and by the time the domestic workers leave I can see they are inspired and empowered. We also get great feedback from their employees about how they actually implement what they have learnt,’ Davis said.
This year, Green Touch has started doing more corporate work. ‘We don’t ‘green’ corporate companies, but rather help corporates create a green culture. We do this by doing presentations to their staff on how to green their homes, we arrange green days for their staff and we do staff campaigns, such as water saving campaigns with relevant products that they can use in their homes.’
‘We are planning to grow Green Touch to other regions in South Africa (greening homes and domestic training) and do more corporate campaigns and green days.’