This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 4 of VARSITY News.
Near the end of last April, uMhlanga Rocks beaches in KwaZulu-Natal have been reported to be have been littered with vast amounts of plastic objects, general waste and tree bark debris due to floods polluting the beaches. GreenPeace Africa took to social media to voice their shock and concern at the amount of pollution that had flooded the beaches and asked for the public to help in cleaning up.
Locals and tourists responded by helping the organisations to clean up the beaches in an effort to ensure that people would be able to use the beaches when needed and the waterbodies would not eventually suffer because of the pollution. People from Wildlands, the Litterboom project, SpillTech, Drizit and ZMK Enterprises have also helped with the cleaning project and have stated they plan to be there every day to keep the shores clean.
Why isn’t pollution control or ensuring our environments are clean something that South Africans do organically? In other words, why do organisations and campaigns have to “advertise” or post this issue on social media in order for people to understand the seriousness of the situation?
Beach clean-ups have always been something that South Africa has engaged in annually. The problem, however, is that every year, people have to be asked to partake as opposed to initiating the efforts themselves. It has become a campaign rather than just being a normal thing that citizens are supposed to do, which is worrying.
If South Africa wants more people to be involved, issues such as pollution and being able to reduce contamination at beaches should be something that is regularly taught about in schools. Kids should be encouraged to have occasional excursions where they help communities and beaches to be clean spaces by helping pick up plastics, bottles, cups and other hazardous debris that would not only be a danger to the people but to the waterbodies as well.
Everyone needs to know the basics of keeping the environment clean and how to dispose of pollution waste – particularly plastics and recycling them.
Another important point is that communities also need to be informed about pollution issues in our beaches. Being able to help communities understand the seriousness of pollution and how people and waterbodies can get affected, might encourage citizens to be on the lookout for pollution on the beaches when they see waste or rubbish piling up near the shores.
Let us continually commit ourselves to ensuring that our environment is always kept clean, not just for our own use but for future generations as well. Natural resources are essential for the sustainability of human, plant and animal life.
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