We can all help save planet Earth by cutting on litter

Image: 123RF/ Bidouze Stephane

Throughout history there have been those who have acted and those who sat back and waited for others to act. With the devastating impact of climate change and the need for everybody to go green, none of us have that luxury.

According to the World Bank, SA produces 54,425 tonnes of municipal solid waste daily and this is the 15th highest rate in the world. On a per capita basis, the amount produced per household every day equates to two kilograms, putting SA at number 38 globally. The number of households that have refuse removal at least once a week is on the rise, increasing from 56% in 2002 to approximately 66% in 2017. Globally, plastic production has reached new highs, with over 320-million tons now being produced annually.

Simply, we are suffocating the earth and cutting off our life supply. Our actions are directly impacting our world, communities and homes.

We need to address this trend now at household level as each one of us has a role to play.

Our actions today will determine the future of our planet and the fate of future generations. The clock is ticking and action is needed now.

The launch of the national Good Green Deeds campaign in East London on March 9 by President Cyril Ramaphosa was a pivotal moment in ensuring that everyone is environmentally conscious, becomes litter free, and adopts no-dumping behaviour.

It emphasises that the challenge of saving our planet for the future is in our hands and it begins with simple actions.

The practice of illegal dumping has turned many of our communities into toxic waste dumps. There is undoubtedly a need for municipalities to make available more facilities for waste removal. However, communities also have make the effort to drop waste at designated sites.

Keep a bag in your car so that you are not tempted to litter as you drive. Instead of dumping your waste as you walk, carry it with you until you find a bin.

It is these sorts of simple actions that will cascade into an unstoppable movement for change.

Together we must insist that manufacturers use recyclable, environmentally friendly packaging material to end the practice of waste landfilling.

The Good Green Deeds campaign will harness the collective efforts to make a lasting change. It targets changing behaviour and stereotypes around waste and littering by galvanising individuals, the private sector, labour, NGOs and society at large to clean SS.

The campaign seeks to inspire, educate and influence communities to change their attitude towards waste management. Anyone can become an awareness ambassador by becoming that friend or family member who tells others not to litter and also lead by example.

We need to get a handle on waste and its impact on our daily lives. The current trend where waste generation continues to increase due to population growth is unsustainable.

Living the Good Green Deeds lifestyle should become our collective rallying cry. Let's be ambassadors of Good Green Deeds and guarantee a clean and safe future for future generations.

-Mokonyane is the minister of environmental affairs

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