everyone’s talking about the need to "go green" but how much do you care for
delighted to introduce you to a passionate Joburg resident, who is taking
action to protect her environment, and she response to her fun, stylish concept,
has been phenomenal.
Alberoni and her partner, former Big Brother housemate, Irvan Damon, run Carbon
d’Afreeque, which aims to make the planet a cleaner, greener place, by
recycling PVC billboards into handbags, fashion accessories, and utility pieces
– a passion which keeps them busy 24/7.
line of high-end eco-pieces are made from recycled PVC billboard skins, that
are intercepted before being incinerated or dumped into landfills and
transformed into unique designer and utility pieces.
gsport, Gabriella said its everyone’s responsibility to protect and nurture the
planet and she is enjoying changing perceptions and effecting some change at
the same time.
is about fashion with a conscience and its pay-off line is "Saving the Planet,
one bag at a time…"
aside, it’s a job that keeps Gabriella busy 24/7 but she still finds time for
sport and exercise which she says gives her the necessary balance. She aims to
go to the gym 3-4 times a week and also enjoys the odd game of tennis.
to Gabriella about the importance of protecting the planet, and her vision for
Where is the company based?
In Fourways, Johannesburg. We have a studio from home –
always a good option when you are trying to reduce your carbon footprint!
Why did you decide to launch Carbon d’Afreeque?
Being in the branding industry for a
very long time, I have always been disturbed by the paradox that billboards
present; whilst they are an extremely powerful media tool, they only live on
our billboards for a short period of time, yet they pollute our environment
forever once they come down (Billboard PVC does not decompose and worse than
that, the harmful dioxins used in the printing process seep into our water table,
having far-reaching negative ecological effects. If they are incinerated, the
same dioxins contribute to greenhouse gases).
My partner and I had been pondering for
a long time as to how we could contribute to solving that problem and the
answer was in handbags, fashion accessories and utility pieces. By recycling PVC
billboards into bags, we pander to an individual’s need for a signature style,
as each piece is completely unique. We also attract the consumer and corporate
companies to the idea of being green, in style – by making a simple consumer
switch, you still have access to chic fashion without sacrificing our planet!
Our payoff line is, "Saving the planet, one bag at a time…"
What type of clients have you attracted
since the company launched?
Besides individuals from all walks of
life who have purchased our products, there has been a phenomenal interest from
the corporate sector as they now have an opportunity to extend the longevity
and reach of their brand by recycling their billboards into laptop or
conference bags, etc. whilst being responsible to the environment.
The most meaningful part of this
company has been the fact that we have attracted people with no previous
interest in the environment who have, since engaging with our products, become
environmental ambassadors, proudly strutting around with their Carbon
d’Afreeque bags on their shoulders! Our product opens the door to people
becoming more conscious to eco-issues without finger-wagging and doomsday
What made you so passionate about
taking ACTION to protect the environment?
We only have one living, breathing
planet and we owe it to ourselves to protect and nurture it and our future. It
really is everyone’s responsibility because CO2 produced anywhere in the world
becomes everyone’s problem, it is not contained in the area where it is created
– for instance, the high carbon emissions from the US and East will affect everyone on
the planet. This is probably the only world issue that will require and
hopefully create absolute solidarity and unity across the globe in order to
correct the damage that has been done. Our products are my way of doing my bit
– in our own way; we are changing perceptions and effecting some change.
There is a big global emphasis on ways
in which to protect the environment, how have the South African public
responded to Carbon d’Afreeque?
When you start speaking to people about
climate change and greenhouse gases, their eyes normally glaze over and they
stop paying attention, because the information is so technical and there is
just too much of it! BUT, if you show them a handbag and tell them its a 100%
local, eco-friendly product, the interest levels are astounding! The response
we have received has been phenomenal which is truly inspiring, as it shows that
South Africans are very ready to change their habits and engage in green
How can someone contact you if they’re
interested in learning more about what you do?
We are busy building our full website
but we have a splash page showing some of our products on www.carbonfree.co.za.
Our office line is 011 465 8801 and my partner and I can be contacted on our
mobile phones (082 551 3839 / 073 692 7386). We are currently exploring some
exciting retail avenues which should be finalised in the next month or two.
What is your vision for Carbon d’Afreeque?
PVC is a problem across the globe – we
would like to get to a point where we can expand internationally in a
We are also extending our product line into eco-furniture pieces which is very
exciting so we are constantly reinventing the offering so we can recycle more
and more pvc.
On another level, our vision is to effect as much change as possible and open
more people up to being green by being hip and therefore attracting the masses
to green living rather than just people on the fringe. If we make green
attractive, we can convert more hearts and minds and truly make a difference.
Your life sounds busy and exciting; why
do you think it’s important to lead an active life?
I truly believe that if you look to
others for fulfillment, you will never be truly fulfilled. In finding my
fulfillment, I have to be active and experience as much as possible. I want my
life to be meaningful in many, many ways and the only way, I believe, to achieve
that, is to fill it with as much quality and experience as possible. I also
handle boredom very badly, if I am not surrounded by stimulation, I will go and
find some, or create it myself.
Do you manage to find time for sport
I would not survive without it! I think
balance is one of the most important things to try and achieve in life. Being
so passionate about this business, its so easy to immerse myself in it and
forget to come up for air!
But only when you have a healthy, balanced lifestyle
can you completely dedicate yourself constructively to something and get
fantastic results. If one is healthy and respectful of ones mind, body and
soul, I find that all the aspects of your life become healthy too and you can
I religiously go to the gym 3 – 4 times a week and we love to
hit the tennis court on weekends – it’s a fantastic, fun stress reliever!
"No one person has to do it all but if each one of us
follow our heart and our own inclinations we will find the small things that we
can do to create a sustainable future and a healthy environment."