Maria Miracle is a traveling photographer and aspiring conservationist. She's set out to share stories and discoveries from her travels, from photographs to books to best sustainability practices.

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Sustainability in South Africa

Sustainability in South Africa

A few weeks ago, I traveled to South Africa for the first time for a wedding, and it did not disappoint. From the beach at Camps Bay to the vineyards of Stellenbosch, every corner of the country couldn't have been more beautiful. 

I was also there at a unique time, when Cape Town was facing unprecedented drought and water shortage.

"Population growth and a record drought, perhaps exacerbated by climate change, is sparking one of the world's most dramatic urban water crises, as South African leaders warn that residents are increasingly likely to face "Day Zero." That's the day, previously projected for mid-April but now mid-July, when the city says it will be forced to shut off taps to homes and businesses because reservoirs have gotten perilously low—a possibility officials now consider almost inevitable."

National Geographic

Because of the environmental crisis, everyone was extremely conscientious of the resources they were using. Many of the habits that we consider best practice but not must-do, like turning off the shower while washing one's hair, or turning off the tap while brushing one's teeth, were done without second thought (at least, based on the many conversations I had with friends who live there and with people I met at the wedding). One of my favorite cafes that I discovered near Camps Bay served only local, organic, and seasonal produce, and this seemed to be the norm for most restaurants. I definitely observed an emphasis on outdoor activities and healthy lifestyles, and a celebratory culture of the natural landscape.

But I also had some really thought-provoking conversations with Capetonians who were quick to point out that 11% of the world's population still lacks access to running, clean water supply. That's almost 800 million people. Perhaps a leveling of resources would trigger a tidal wave of much-needed economic and social change. I didn't have a chance to visit any of the townships, though, and I think that would have given me a very different perspective and understanding of the resource inequality within the country. Of course, Cape Town won't be the last city to run into severe resource scarcity, so the next few months may serve as an example for the rest of the world.

Not to make too much light of the situation, but it did always make me giggle when someone finished off a wedding toast with, "You know we're in a drought, so save water! Drink wine!" The wedding was held at the Boschendal Estate and Vineyard in Franschhoek, one of the most beautiful places in the world. The food was all local, seasonal, and exceptionally delicious. I'll always be a Savanna Dry girl, but even I couldn't resist the Boschendal rosé.

I wish I could have photographed every lovely detail of this country! Here are a few of my favorites moments from the trip.

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