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The Wildlands Conservation Trust

Sustainable Communities Recycling for Life

The Wildlands Conservation Trust is a community-conservation NGO, based in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal. Wildlands works on the premise that biodiversity conservation in South Africa and sustainable livelihoods go hand-in-hand, and the success of each is dependent on the other. Wildlands also believes that every person and every business has the ability, and therefore the responsibility, to do whatever is in their power to do to reduce their impact on the environment. Wanting to lead by example, Wildlands started by trying to think of ways to recycle their own branding materials.

Inspired by a Johannesburg based NGO – Waste to WOW – but wanting to keep it local, Wildlands turned to the arts and crafts community on their doorstep, the Midlands Meander Association, to start creating products that could be sold or distributed into their donor and partner communities. Dirt Road Traders are a company that sew magnificent leather handbags and Marion Findlay, designer and operations manager of the business, got started on a few designs, and since then, the interest has exploded, with many of Wildlands donors wanting to donate their branding. Marion has designed a collection of beach bags, string bags, satchels and picnic blankets but her skilled team are able to sew up almost anything.

Recycled goods for sale
Wildlands sells the bags and other merchandise at activation points at various events. Two main activation points include stands at a series of adventure sports events ( run by Wildlands, and at the monthly Old Mutual Encounters Concerts held in the Durban and Johannesburg Botanical Gardens. Other activations include festivals and special events. The aim of selling these products here is to raise awareness and encourage responsible consumer behaviour and sustainable living.

Recycled goods for barter
One of Wildlands flagship initiatives is called Sustainable Communities, which includes the Recycling for Life and Indigenous Trees for Life programmes.

In these programmes children and adults from impoverished communities grow trees and collect waste from around their homesteads and barter it for goods: food, clothes, building materials, stationary, rainwater tanks and even education fees.

This waste is then recycled by Wildlands network of partners and the trees replanted in reforestation and greening projects.

Wildlands affects more than 3500 people with this programme. Wildlands aims to put the recycled satchels onto these ‘green-futures stores’ and also to tap into the ingenuity within these communities for new and exciting ways to reduce, reuse and recyle.

Recycled goods for business
Some of the goods Wildlands create are purchased back by their donors to use as corporate gifts, raising more awareness amongst their staff and clients and putting funds back into growing the initiative. The Wildlands team are collecting virtually anything ‘sew-able’ from in and around the Durban area, mostly PVC and material banners and their bags, but they’ll experiment with other materials. Anything that can’t be re-used to create something functional is given to the rest of the Midlands Meander creative committee to see what they can come up with.

For more information or to get your business involved contact Simone Dale on 033 343 6380. More information on Wildlands can be found on

"Pioneering conservation action"

"What we do today, right now, will have an accumulated effect on all of our tomorrows." [Alexandra Stoddard]


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