Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs Barbara Thomson has encouraged the plastics, metals and glass industries to continue with their voluntary efforts to increase recycling.
“Furthermore, we need to encourage all South Africans to become concerned about recycling and make the effort to buy material produced from recycled material,” said Deputy Minister Thomson.
She was speaking on Saturday at the International Coastal Clean-Up project in East London.
The clean-up activity forms part of the annual International Coastal Clean-Up Day which was initiated by the Ocean Conservancy in 1986 and has grown with more than 100 countries participating in cleaning up their coastal areas.
“The significance of the International Coastal Clean-up campaign is that it not only promotes awareness of the litter problem, but also draws our attention to the need for better waste management on land,” Deputy Minister Thomson said.
About 1000 volunteers collected around 1395 cigarette butts, 718 plastic bags, 1004 bottle caps, 588 food wrappers and 564 plastic beverage bottles in just one hour.
The beach clean-up covered about 2.5km of the Eastern Beach and this year the clean-up was not only focused on one beach location but on several areas, some of which are further away from the coast.
The areas included the surrounds of the Orient Theatre, Quigney, and Ebuhlanti.
“The International Coastal Clean-up Day once again reminds us of the importance of our beautiful and valuable coastal and marine environment, and the need to take care of it,” she said.
South Africa has been participating in the ICCD event for 19 years and information on the litter and debris removed from the beaches has being forwarded to the Ocean Conservancy to form part of the global beach litter database, Ocean Trash Index, annually.
The information assists in finding solutions on litter management from land-based sources as well as from offshore sources.
Last year at the coastal clean-up event in Kwazulu-Natal, 1400 volunteers picked up 1 877kg (almost 1.9 tons) of waste in just one hour.
Climate change has propelled us to move towards a greener and more sustainable future. It has created an environment that makes it possible to be green and still run a profitable business. It is important to understand the significance of eco-friendly retail stores, because they preserve the future. In other words, repurposing and recycling materials reduce the strain in using resources that are fuel-based.
Also, it becomes less of a need to rely on unsustainable resources to produce durable goods. Eco-friendly retail stores vary in kind, ranging from clothing and goods to furniture, personal care and household cleaning products.
What to expect from eco-friendly retail stores?
Products should be wholly made from a sustainable material eg. furniture made from bamboo or teakwood etc., fabrics from hemp, organic cotton and/or reclaimed fabrics. If the product doesn’t fit the above description, then it should be a by-product of a repurposed or recycled material, and, in turn, should be recyclable after use.
When shop owners use cleaning products that are eco-friendly, they are contributing to a larger movement and awareness of ‘going green’. You are creating a demand that allows innovation to carry on and improve green products. This chain doesn’t stop people from using non-green products, but provides alternatives and still keeps people employed. However, the benefits are far beyond monetary and support the environment, being good for your health and well-being. They are less harmful and toxic to you and nature.
Eco-friendly retail stores are a glimpse of the impact we can have in the future and it starts with consumers buying into that reality. It is hard to reverse the environmental damage done thus far on the planet, but the ecosystem is a self-correcting system and we can aid it in creating balance.
Eco-friendly retail stores are still gaining traction on the market, and therefore are not yet prominent. However, one can browse through an online database to locate one of these stores. We are slowly moving towards green technologies, so it is imperative for us to adapt to such change sooner rather than later.
To paraphrase Charles Darwin, the species that survive are often not the strongest but those capable of adapting to newer conditions. We are at a pinnacle of a great movement and it is our duty to move in that direction. The survival of our species depends on it.