Karoline Hanks – Wandering Naturalist

Karoline is a mountain lover, environmental campaigner and mother of a teenage son. Her passion for the natural world and a desire to fix all that we are doing to it runs deep. Karoline is happiest when in the mountains, which is somewhere she is privileged enough to be very often! Karoline has an overriding interest in species, habitat loss and in looking at ways to live ‘lightly’. Her hope is to generate much more awareness in people; to whip up a desire to shift behaviour and to help people see the connections between all that they do and how the Earth copes (or does not cope!).

What are you most passionate about?

Seeking ways for us humans to live lightly and to minimise our waste output, plastic in particular. One of my biggest passions is finding alternatives to our hideously wasteful single-use plastic habit. I have been campaigning against the use of single-use plastic sachets in road running events for over five years, and although slow, feel that some progress is being made there.

What makes you angry?

Apathy and people who don’t care, or who don’t connect the dots and realise that their behaviour impacts on the world’s precious habitats and wildlife.

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

Grow stuff – indigenous stuff. Love fynbos, aloes, restios and proteas …. Also love my productive herb and vegetable garden. I hate swathes of lawn …. I would create micro-habitats and encourage birds, bees, snakes to come and live with me ….

Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer? 

Gatherer …. you should see our garage floor …. it’s awash with ecobricks!!!

How many pairs of shoes  do you own?

Very few. Mainly running shoes from my awesome sponsor Altra.

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

I absolutely love to cook and entertain. There would be loads of fresh food, as much as possible harvested from my garden, always a bountiful green salad and lots of flavour in my other dishes with plenty of colour and variety. I love cumin, garlic and coriander … there is no excuse for bland food (or store-bought meals!!).

How would people communicate in a perfect world?

With more empathy, compassion, eye contact and touch.

What do you work toward in your free time?

A plastic free world … and one where people recognise their impact on the voiceless. I am passionate about wild creatures, big and small – less so about humans (!) ….

Name 3 thing in nature you find most beautiful.

  1. Being alone and having a wildlife encounter and just watching quietly (so often find myself in these situations, and I often have whispered conversations with animals – don’t ask me what we talk about, but we do).
  2. Bird calls in the bush.
  3. The smell and sound of rain in KZN and buchu in the Cedarberg.

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

I think the answer to that is obvious!

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

Becoming aware, conscious, sensitive, connecting dots, having fewer children, not eating meat.


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