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ALBERTUS LOUW

ALBERTUS LOUW

ENVIRONMENTAL HEROES SERIES: ALBERTUS LOUW
The 50/50 wildlife presenter, Albertus Louw, lives, breaths, sleeps and speaks environmental sustainability. Louw’s reverence for nature is the driving force that fuels his work and lifestyle. He practices what he preaches while living a simple yet abundant life that is wholly connected to nature.
 

In this interview, Louw shares with us how he landed his dream job as a presenter of the iconic South African wildlife show 50/50. Furthermore, we discuss his sustainable home and carbon-free lifestyle which is inspired by a compilation of travels all over the world. This authentic way of living is a breath of fresh air and demonstrates that man and earth can truly live in harmony. 

1. Where did your love and passion for the environment stem from?

I remember as a little 3-year old, my dad’s aunt, Tannie Trui, had a magnifying glass and wherever we went, she would show me a little hidden insect or the patterns of a flower. It opened my eyes to an entirely new world of tiny life around me and made me incredibly curious about the wonders of the living world. That curiosity just continued to grow – the more I discovered, the more I was just in awe of how amazing life is and how incredibly rich its diversity.

 

In this interview, Louw shares with us how he landed his dream job as a presenter of the iconic South African wildlife show 50/50. Furthermore, we discuss his sustainable home and carbon-free lifestyle which is inspired by a compilation of travels all over the world. This authentic way of living is a breath of fresh air and demonstrates that man and earth can truly live in harmony. 

2. Tell us about your travels and how you connected it with conservation?

My other great love and passion is for people and cultures. I soon understood that we are just one species in this diverse world and that our quality of life is directly dependent on the health of our environment.

Many of my travels were linked to relief work after disasters, eg working with refugees of war in the Middle East or survivors of natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis.

In these disasters, you see the links between our wellbeing and the environment in very dramatic details. I also had the opportunity to cover many stories for media from looking for chimpanzees in a central African jungle to finding brown bears in the Taiga forests of northern Europe.

ENVIRONMENTAL HEROES SERIES: ALBERTUS LOUW

3. How did you become a 50/50 presenter? Is it a ‘dream-come-true’ type of job for you?

I remembered as a young boy, watching 50|50 and thinking: these guys have the best job in the world! When I pursued a career in media, however, I used to only work behind the camera. When I heard 50|50 was looking for a new Afrikaans-speaking presenter, my first thought was: “I don’t know if I have the confidence to do that…” But the more I thought about it, the more I realised how much I would LOVE to do it. I then walked over to a mirror, looked myself squarely in the eyes and said:

“You not only CAN do this, but you WILL do this!”

I was extremely nervous but went to the audition with my mind made up and I got the job. It really is a dream-come-true kind of job for me, because I can both produce and present the kind of stories that I am passionate about. Sometimes I literally do everything: research, scriptwriting, directing, producing, camera work, sound, presenting and editing.

4. As a field presenter for 50/50, which stories are the most exciting for you to cover?

I am an adventurer at heart, so I always look for opportunities to discover new places and see if I can find stories in remote and diverse areas with interesting people. I love stories that inspire and create a sense of wonder in me.

ENVIRONMENTAL HEROES SERIES: ALBERTUS LOUW

5. Your sustainable house and carbon-free lifestyle is an inspiration! When, where and why did you build your house?

I spent six months working with Kurdish refugees in war-torn northern Iraq during my early twenties. We worked with villagers to rebuild their houses after entire villages were destroyed. I was fascinated by the fact that every single family built their own home using natural building materials from their environment according to age-old methods. Since then, wherever I travelled in the world, I was always looking for the traditional ways people were building there. This inspired me to build my own house, using the same principles, but to fit into my own local context in South Africa. So, I found a small community on a farm outside of Magaliesburg that wanted to pursue a more sustainable lifestyle. That’s where I started playing around with the ideas and principles and slowly over time build my home. It is still a work in progress : )

6. What were your main goals around building and designing sustainably?

  • I wanted my home to blend in with the environment, incorporating nature into my space. As just another species in the environment.
  • I wanted my home to have a positive instead of a negative environmental footprint.
  • I wanted my home to be healthy and for both my body, mind and emotions to benefit from a healthy environment.
  • I also wanted to respect and celebrate whoever lived on that spot before me.

7. How can we make our ‘city homes’ more sustainable? Could you give us your top 3 eco-design tips?

  1. Incorporate as much of your local biodiversity into your home as possible. If you fill your space with the natural plants that occur in that area, the rest of nature will follow. And don’t be limited by a garden – find creative ways of incorporating it into the structure, for example creating living walls and living roofs.
  2. Invest in solar. Even if you can only afford a little bit. Start with a solar geyser. Then get one or two PV panels and expand your system over time. We are in one of the best spots on the planet to benefit from solar – it is crazy that we don’t use it more!
  3. Another basic is passive solar design. As far as possible, orientate your home in such a way that you can maximize the natural heat of the sun during winter and keep your home cool during summer.

8. What is your hope for the future of the planet?

I dream of a world where we realise that we are part of nature and that our quality of life depends on healthy ecosystems.

I dream about an economy that is based on circular and fair, equitable principles instead of old paradigms like GDP and unsustainable growth.

I dream of a world where we value biodiversity and find ways of restoring ecosystems that we have destroyed. I dream of a zero-waste, fossil-fuel-free planet with thriving communities of humans living in thriving ecosystems.

9. Who inspires you?

There is something in almost anyone I meet that inspires me.I am inspired by people who have the courage to be themselves and live authentic lives. I am inspired by people who face their challenges, doesn’t matter how big or small they are.

10. At Sapmok we are constantly striving to be better and do better for the environment, but there’s always room for improvement. What do you suggest can we do as a brand to assist in the most concerning environmental challenges that you’ve observed?

That is a great question and instead of trying to give cheap and easy answers, I think it is a question that we should all keep on exploring, dialoguing about and try to find better and better solutions that are practical and doable. I think making it your goal to leave a bigger positive footprint instead of a smaller negative one, is a great point to start from. There are great practical examples around the world of businesses that found ways to change their business model to one that is truly circular, create zero waste, are socially responsible, and leave a positive environmental footprint. I think the best advice I can give anyone is to look at those examples and see how you can do even better than them and become a leader in your industry that others can look up to.

Show Albertus some love

Written and interviewed by Ursula Botha