Why participating in community clean-ups is important

Community clean-ups

September was Clean-up and Recycle Month in South Africa. A number of beach clean-ups and community recycling events took place over the past few weeks. Citizens should still get involved in these events whenever they occur because the benefits to the environment can be substantial. 

By collecting and recycling litter from our beaches, parks, rivers and cities, South Africans can help to boost the economy and protect the environment at the same time. Waste pollution is one of the biggest threats facing our oceans, rivers and public spaces. The South African government has legislated a number of environmental protection laws and waste management regulations in order to minimise the amount of litter that ends up in these natural spaces.

South Africans have started to become acutely aware of the impact of waste and pollution on the environment. Community clean-ups are becoming more popular and well-attended, which is great news. Tackling litter and recycling waste are two simple solutions that every citizen can use in the fight against pollution. Every person can take the decision to reduce their waste output, recycle in the home and refrain from littering.

Manpower is important when it comes to clean-ups

While reducing waste and recycling more are two solutions to prevent pollution, there is still a need to take part in community clean-ups to remove litter from the environment. The more people that participate in these events, the better the results. More eyes and hands to find and remove litter means that far more waste is collected from rivers, parks and beaches.

There are technological aids that can help to trap and remove waste, such as litter booms in rivers and floating waste-skimming devices in the ocean. However, manpower remains one of the most vital tools when it comes to effective litter collection and pollution eradication. Technology can help, but it cannot be the final solution. Every citizen can play a role in environmental protection as well.

Simple acts such as recycling plastic, paper and glass waste can have a big impact on the environment. Picking up litter on the daily commute to and from work can really make a difference to public spaces. Small decisions can have big results and they all start with the individual.

Local acts for national benefit

Community clean-ups take place in every major city and many small towns in South Africa. Beach clean-ups are popular events in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. Cities such as Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bloemfontein have their own community clean-ups too. These events bring communities together for a single cause – environmental protection. The consequences of which can be far-reaching.

These localised events can have big payoffs in terms of national environmental benefits. They not only encourage community interaction and participation, but they also enable business networking and a sense of charity. Community engagement can lift the spirits of individuals who take part. 

Community clean-ups can show South Africans that we can work together towards a common goal. They may also inspire further changes from key decision-makers. Shop owners may start recycling initiatives of their own, retailers may invest in recycling vending machines and restaurateurs may implement food collection drives. 

These gatherings can also effect changes within local governments and municipalities. Community clean-ups can inspire mayors to install more recycling bins and draft harsher laws for illegal dumping. These local acts can inspire national change. It is ultimately the responsibility of every South African to do their best and dispose of their waste in a responsible manner.

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Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

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Plastics SA Editor