Victoria Young-Pugh started the only zero-waste store in Hermanus, Victoria’s Pantry, a year ago. I caught up with her to talk about eco-conscious living in the Overberg.
By Victoria Young-Pugh
I am 23 years old. I grew up in Somerset West, lived for a year in Madrid and then moved to Cape Town where I studied to be a chef at Silwood School of Cookery. After studying and working in restaurants I decided that cooking as a career was not what I wanted to do. I then did my Yoga Teacher Training, moved to Hermanus and started teaching Yoga full time. I now run my shop and also teach Yoga.
I feel like I have always been eco-aware. I grew up in a family that is very environmentally conscious and we have always been nature lovers. I think teaching Yoga has also had a huge impact on the way I live – it has promoted me to live with a kinder mindset and has made me more grateful for this beautiful planet we live on. Living in Hermanus has also inspired me as it is such an untouched area and I’d like to protect that for as long as possible. Plastic is my main fight at the moment as it is so disastrous for the environment and the ocean.
The restaurant industry really opened my eyes to how much food wastage and plastic wastage there is in South Africa and the world. I volunteered at the Cheetah Outreach in Somerset West for a couple of months and this also made me realise the severity of habit-loss is for wild animals and the impact humans have on the earth. It’s all connected. As I’ve become older I’ve tried to make my involvement in the environment a lifestyle. I’ve stopped eating meat, I always pick up litter whenever I walk on the beach and I try to buy as little plastic as possible. Lately I have also been very aware of where the goods that I buy come from. I’ve realised the importance of supporting local farmers and businesses rather than supporting mass chain grocery stores. It’s something that I will continuously work on improving and evolving.
I usually teach a Yoga class in the morning before work, then set up the shop. My day involves a lot of trimming spinach, filling up jars and cleaning! Otherwise, I’m helping customers weigh out goods, collecting various goods like olive oil and eggs from farmers in the area and answering emails. As my shop is very young I am always trying to see how I can evolve the shop and make it better.
The shop is a very good promotion for eco-living. It’s very satisfying to see people’s reactions when they walk in; some are confused and some are over the moon. For those unsure about how the shop works, I explain the process to them and just by doing that it creates more awareness about eco-friendly living. I am an eco-brick drop off point and everything I sell is eco-friendly. I have an Instagram page @VictoriasPantry where I post experiences and tips on how to become more zero-waste.
Future Forecast: where do you see SA in the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years?
South Africa’s future is always difficult to predict. We have so many people who are struggling merely to survive that being eco-aware is just not a priority for them. I strongly hope that the people who are educated and can afford to live a more environmentally friendly life will learn to do so. South Africa has incredible potential and if we have strong leaders we can definitely grow into an amazing and successful country.
2020 Green Vision: What’s the way forward for a greener, cleaner more eco-aware SA?
If everybody just does a little bit, it all adds up. I’d love to see South Africa ban plastic bags over the next 5 years – this will have a huge impact on the environment.