Meet Donna Noble – Recycling for Change

Donna Noble is Mpact’s Communications – Mpact recycling is one of the largest paper and plastic packaging businesses in southern Africa, with 33 operating sites, 24 of which are manufacturing operations, based in South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Mpact employs 4,467 people.  Let’s get to know her a bit better…

  1. What are you most passionate about?

My 4 year old daughter, Kensie who is my reason for jumping out of bed every morning; my career in communications which has allowed me to move from the publishing industry to the retail industry to the banking industry, and now recently, the packaging industry – specifically recycling. I have the ability now to make a real difference to people’s lives on a daily basis and I love it! I also really love great coffee – think Truth coffee; and the ability to push myself at my local yoga studio!

  1. What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

Falling pregnant! Sounds easy – but it was not. After my husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, we were set for a roller coaster ride. After he received the all clear in 2010, we knew we would battle to fall pregnant as the oncologist had already prepared us. We sought further advice from the specialists at Vitalab, only to discover that I too had a condition. This meant our chances of falling pregnant were less than 5%. So we risked it all – financially, emotionally and physically and I am proud to say that our miracle baby, Kensie came along in September 2012.

  1. What makes you angry?

People who don’t recycle. We are sitting with a very serious issue in South Africa, where we are running out of landfill space quickly. As part of the Mpact group, our division, Mpact Recycling has numerous recycling programmes in place to help people recycle. But when I hear people say it’s so hard to do, or I don’t have time – I get cross! It just means you are lazy. It’s so easy to separate your recyclables at home. We put all our paper products (including cereal boxes and milk and juice cartons) into our green Ronnie bag which gets collected every week. Then, we put all our plastic bottles and cans into a separate packet, and give it to the collector in our area on rubbish day. I know her by name now, and I know that what she does is not only good for the environment, but is also helping to sustain families financially.

  1. If you inherited an acre of land what would you do with it?

I would build a beautiful farmhouse – think country style, with a lovely room upstairs overlooking a lake or body of water where I could do my writing from. I would also ensure we could live off the land, from rearing chickens to growing our own vegetables, as well as having horses for outings.

  1. Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?

This depends on the situation. At work I am definitely a hunter – going after new opportunities to get South Africans recycling. In my leisure time with friends and family, I am definitely a gatherer – gathering information that I will use to help my daughter with projects, or my sisters in their homes.

  1. How many pairs of shoes do you own?

At least 20 pairs of summer shoes excluding running shoes, and then 6 different types of boots for winter – from brown, to black, to tan. You never know what you will need when with our ever changing weather conditions! By the way – that is due to climate change, which could be reduced if every person in the country did their bit to recycle.

  1. If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?

I would start with a melanzane parmigiana (brinjals in a tomato based sauce topped with mozzarella cheese), then a sweet and sour chicken dish (secret family recipe), followed by a decadent baked apple dessert served with custard and cream!

  1. How would people communicate in a perfect world?

Regularly! It’s so easy to drop a text or whatsapp to say hello, how are you doing. But even more importantly is to take the time to pick up the phone and say hello. If you’ve got the time (I’m guilty of not!) then you would have regular coffee dates with your girlfriends. The best for me however, is that few minutes before you go to sleep at night (for me this is anywhere from 9 to midnight!) where you get to whisper with your partner about your day and how thankful you are for them in your life (without waking up the little one!).

  1. What do you work toward in your free time?

Most importantly, being with my daughter and seeing how much she is learning each and every day. For myself – increasing my energy levels through yoga and walking, and on a good day – getting down to scribbling in my journal so that one day when I do write that novel – I will have lots of good content!

  1. If you woke up and had 300 unread emails and could only answer 30 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer?

In my line of work, you don’t understand how often that happens. When you do communications – you are expected to be available all the time. Think like a doctor on call! However, I do have a system for working through the backlog. I divide them into folders in my inbox dependent on who they are from – then I search those particular folders. CEO, MD, the reps that report into me and consumer queries. This is done mid – morning, and again late afternoon. That’s it. The others I can attend to when I get a gap at the end of the day.

  1. Name 3 things in nature you find most beautiful.

My daughter when she hums to herself when we are out walking in the garden; the brightness of the moon and stars when you are out in the country; and the silence and stillness at the end of the day.

  1. Have you used plastic bags for your shopping in the last two weeks?

No – I haven’t. I have material shopping bags in both my car and my husband’s and he knows he will get into big trouble if he buys plastic bags.

  1. What would you say are some small steps that people can take to improve their relationship to the environment?

Most people agree that recycling is important and must be done in their homes and at work, having already accepted that pollution and climate change rank among some of the serious challenges facing our planet. Most of us are open to the idea of doing something positive about it but simply don’t know where to start. By recycling regularly, we will reduce the need to landfill and incinerate recyclables. Thus, cutting down on pollution; making our environment more attractive and clean; as well as helping to create jobs. As you become more aware of recycling, it becomes easier to do. Simply begin by: separating your recyclables at home into separate designated containers (paper, plastic, glass, cans); or support your local school or community Ronnie bank with all paper recyclables and cartons (such as milk and juice cartons). Alternatively, you can also support your local buy-back centre with all paper and plastic recyclables; or you can make use of your local shopping centre’s collection bins for cans and glass recyclables.


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