Cape Town – If you're thinking about ways to reduce your carbon footprint and increase daily eco-responsible and sustainable living, then now is the best time to start. Especially with this week, 11 September to 17 September, being South Africa’s annual Clean-up & Recycle SA Week.
The week ties in with International Coastal Clean-Up Day on 16 September, as well as Recycling Day SA on 16 September, and it is the perfect time to assess how each of us plays a part to preserve the environment.
ALSO SEE: #ResponsibleTourism: SA gets ready for International Coastal Clean-up Day
According to a 2016 World Bank report, SA produces 54 425 tonnes of refuse daily - making it the 15th highest rate in the world. This is expected to increase to 72 146 tonnes per day by 2025. This makes how we manage waste a major concern, especially with the growing negative consequences it has on the environment and people.
Mpact Recycling says that in 2012, the total paper recovered in SA was enough to fill 1 380 Olympic-sized swimming pools - an amount that is rapidly growing. And yet, paper can be recycled at least seven times, save up to 3m³ of landfill space per tonne, and has the knock-on benefit of reducing transport and disposal costs for local municipalities.
Mpact Recycling Gauteng regional manager, Alan De Haas says when South Africans embrace recycling, they help reduce pollution and contribute towards a healthier, greener and cleaner society for themselves and future generations. “Recycling affords over 100 000 people the opportunity to earn an income and support their families. In addition, schools and other community organisations can raise money by recycling.”
How to start recycling
One way to get started is at home by simply separating recyclables into designated containers for paper, plastic, glass and cans. "The recyclables can then be dropped off at a local school, community centre or buy-back centre".
"It is important to know what can and cannot be recycled," says De Haas, adding that it is also vital to know what to do with items for recycling, such as flattening boxes and rinsing plastic containers. One also needs to find out where to leave the items to be collected for pick up, or dropped off.
De Haas urges people who live in neighbourhoods where Ronnie Bags are collected on a weekly basis to put all recyclable paper packaging, boxes, milk and juice cartons into the bags and leave them on their kerbs to be collected on the designated day. In this way you will substantially reduce the amount of waste going into your rubbish bin every week, he says.
According to De Haas, South Africans need to view their refuse in a different way. “We all need to start seeing refuse as a resource that can be used in ways that can drive the economy – making a real and remarkable difference for the environment, rather than something that should just be discarded.”
International Coastal Clean-Up Day
International Coastal Clean-Up Day takes place on 16 September and some South Africans are gearing up to band together at some of the country’s beaches, to play their part in clearing coastal litter.
According to Two Oceans Aquarium, 75% of the plastic littering our oceans comes from land – an unprecedented ecological disaster that is only becoming worse.
Douw Steyn, Sustainability Director of Plastics | SA says “At its core, ocean trash is a people problem – perpetuated by the often unwitting practices that industry and people have adopted over time.”
Here's how you can get involved to reduce plastic from entering the ocean:
Along SA shores, SANBI’s Kwelera National Botanical Garden in Eastern Cape, invites the public to join in its first annual International Coastal Clean-Up Day on Saturday, 16 September at 08:00, at Kwelera Mouth, close to the slipway.
Collection will take place from Kwelera River Mouth to Gonubie River Mouth. Participants are welcome to sign up as ‘Friends of the Garden’ and there will be a lucky draw with prizes to be won. For enquiries call o43 737 0061/71 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s also a ‘Big Clean-up’ - spanning nearly 1500 kilometres of SA’s coastline - with nodal clean-ups to be implemented from Melkbosstrand on the west coast, to Ballito on the east coast.
The inaugural ‘Big Clean-up’, with a network of participating organisations and volunteer groups, encourages the public to join in clean-up operations.
WESSA Tourism Blue Flag project
The WESSA Tourism Blue Flag project, a coastal tourism and youth development project implemented by WESSA in partnership with the National Department of Tourism and Let’s Do It! Africa, is supporting 22 registered coastal clean-up events in South Africa.
SEE: #EcoTravels: It’s time to ditch the plastic
“The International Coastal Clean-up initiative has been an unwavering platform to raise awareness on marine pollution, inadequate waste management, the need for recycling and non-littering in South Africa for the past 20 years,” says Let's Do It! Africa.
Here’s where you can participate on 16 September:
- Milnerton Beach ICC Day Cleanup by the Two Oceans Aquarium
- Melkbosstrand by City of Cape Town
- Camps Bay Beach by WESSA
- Simon's Town Long Beach by WESSA
- Muizenberg Beach (16 and 20 September) by CTEET, WESSA and The Beach Co-operative
- Mnandi Beach by WESSA
- Stilbaai Beach by WESSA
- Hermanus Grotto Beach by WESSA, Coastal Cleanup Convention and Overstrand Municipality
- Mossel Bay by WESSA
- Sedgefield Myoli Beach by Knysna Municipality
- Wilderness Beach by WESSA
- Plettenberg Bay (15 and 16 September) by Nature's Valley Trust and WESSA
- Robben Island Cleanup (15 September) by PETCO
- Jeffrey's Bay Dolphin Beach by WESSA
- Port Elizabeth King's Beach by WESSA
- Kenton-on-Sea by Sustainable Seas Trust and WESSA
- Port Alfred Kelly's Beach by WESSA
- Hamburg Beach by WESSA
- Durban Ushaka Beach by WESSA
- Hibberdene Beach by Ray Nkonyeni Municipality
- Margate Beach by WESSA
- Ballito Clarke Bay Beach by WESSA
- Brighton BLUFF Beaches ICC Day Cleanup by BLUFF Boardriders
- Virginia Beach ICC Day Cleanup by Ocean8 and KZN Beach Cleanup
Click here for more details on the clean-up events. For more information, also visit http://www.wessa.co.za or www.letsdoitworld.org.
People who are concerned about the environment and committed to make a difference can also join a worldwide pledge to #BeatPollution.
You can also start your own action or share your story on the website, but the main aim is to sign the pledge by visiting the “clean planet pledge” page and select those options you pledge to follow to make a difference.
The categories include Clean up the air we breathe, Avoid toxic chemicals, Safeguard our freshwater, Protect our land and soil, Clean up our oceans and Minimize waste. You can select all of these categories or choose specific sub-categories that suit your lifestyle and take baby steps towards achieving “green living”.
What to read next on Traveller24:
- #EcoTravels: It’s time to ditch the plastic
- #ShockWildlifeTruths: Rare beaked whale euthanised, 30 plastic bags found inside
- Save our ocean life with these 6 promises