In an attempt to raise awareness of the environment and the fundamental reasons why we need to respect our surroundings we took a small group of grade 9 and 10 to the Kalk Bay beach clean up on 17th September to celebrate International Coastal Clean Up Day.
Long time tutor Tracey Drew came to help with her ERMteam and provided all the bags, gloves and snacks.
There was a real sense of purpose and when talking to learners about why it was important to pick up litter, there seemed to be a great awareness of the reasons why they should do it. When pushed on why they thought people didn’t do and why, particularly in township areas there is a lot of litter pollution they were far hazier.
Some said that people just didn’t care about anything beyond themselves. While others promoted the fact that people cared about others, the environment and animals but could not see the benefit of engaging in conservation activities. The main reason being that it does not have an immediate impact on their lives; stealing from the future to satisfy the present.
Is it a luxury to be able to care about conservation and environmental sustainability? The answers to this were manifold and would need a whole other blogpost.
As a learner stumbled across a shopping trolley filled with smashed glass bottles hidden at the back of the beach, the discussion turned to solutions. Again a multitude of suggestions were put forward and many faces were scrunched in thought – or maybe it was just the sun in their eyes!
The suggestion from most was that the motivation to pick up litter (or not to drop it in the first place) would only come if people saw the negative impact of it upon their own lives. It is great to come to a beach and learn about the importance of environment and not littering but when they return to their homes they enter into a community where it is not seen as taboo to through a plastic bottle into the river or the street. So, in order to change peoples’ habits of littering and polluting their environment they must be taught about the negative effects in their environment. To get people to start cleaning up the townships you have to start cleaning up the townships; make it visible and educate along the way.
Obviously the day made the learners and myself think a lot and hopefully ERM will assist in organising many more activities of this sort.