This unique story of Ngwenya Glass Swaziland unfolded in 1979. A glassblowing factory called Swazi Glass Craft was set up as a Swedish Aid Project. The Swedes imported all the machinery and equipment, built the original factory and employed and trained Swazi’s in the age-old art of glassblowing. But unfortunately, four years later the factory ceased production. Suddenly, no more glass animals. This was a mystery to Swazi Glass elephant collectors, the Prettejohn family in the Eastern Cape. Their curiosity, literally, drove them to neighbouring Swaziland to “investigate”.
The Prettejohn’s found themselves the proud new owners of the only glassblowing factory in Africa at the time. The Prettejohn’s took with only four employees, including Sibusiso Mhlanga, the master glassblower.
Today, Ngwenya Glass, under the guidance of husband and wife team, Chas & Cathy Prettejohn, employs over 70 people. Sibusiso, who has visited Sweden several times in recent years to work again with some of the worlds leading glassblowers, tutors the new apprentices.
These are our 7 reasons why we love Ngwenya Glass.
1. Using 100% Recycled Glass
The products, which include a wide range of tableware, drinking glasses, vases, jugs and ornamental African animals are all handmade from 100 % recycled glass. Ngwenya Glass has been proudly recycling 100 % recycled glass since 1987.
2. Treading Lightly
Ngwenya Glass use waste newspaper as a very effective packaging material. Ngwenya Glass does not use extra packaging such as boxes and bags, in an effort to decrease its carbon footprint. They encourage clients to supply their own special display packaging at point of destination if deemed necessary. Not only that but Ngwenya Glass re-uses grey water and has rainwater catchments for factory use.
3. Protecting the Environment
Ngwenya Glass has also started using purified old engine oil & old KFC oil to fuel their furnaces. Did you know that it is possible to contaminate one million litres of water with one litre of used oil? Ngwenya Glass has also installed 550 solar panels on the factory roof; this can produce up to 92KW, which is a huge saving to the electricity grid.
4. Planted Over 100 Tree's
Ngwenya Glass has embarked on an indigenous tree-planting programme - 100 trees are currently being planted, with an ongoing programme to continue regular planting in the factory area.
5. Cleaning Up Their Area
Ngwenya Glass organise environmental clean-up days in their area and encourage schools to pick up litter in exchange for donations of building materials or sports kit etc. They believe that by educating our children about environmental issues, we will have a chance of saving our planet.
6. Paying It Forward
Ngwenya Glass has for the past 28 years paid a percentage of our worldwide sales to the Mkhaya Game Reserve (refuge for endangered species in the Lowveld of Swaziland). They started the Ngwenya Rhino and Elephant Wildlife Fund in 1989 and since the establishment of this fund; many generous donations have been received from donors worldwide.
7. Supporting the Cause
Ngwenya Glass also support numerous orphanages and charities in Swaziland and South Africa and have an active HIV/AIDS policy and program. They also pay a monthly salary to a counselor who councils abused children, women and HIV/Aids patients.