Monday, March 31, 2008

Schools Lead the Way to a Cleaner Town

- Imke Maeyer -

Wherever we turn these days, we are faced with crime, upheaval in politics, global warming and poverty. These are vast and varied topics, but somehow they are all linked and affect every living being on our planet.

One small way in which we can contribute towards a healthier environment is by getting rid of the vast amount of litter that lies around our town. And how do we do that? We need to pick it up. But where to from here? If we take all our litter to the dump it will get burned, NOT what our environment needs!

Two schools in our village, Hoërskool Zwartberg and Prince Albert Primêr, have decided to take action and help our town to start looking and feeling better. As a kick-off to the new recycling program that is in the process of negotiation with the Municipality, the schools are going to have a Litter Pick Up Day at the beginning of June 2008.

The aim is for the children (and any other interested parties) to pick up litter in designated areas of the town, take it to a central point and there divide the litter into recyclable and non-recyclable piles. The recyclable litter will then be taken to the Oudtshoorn recycling yard. It is astounding how much of our litter is recyclable or better still, reusable. The bags we will use to collect the litter are feed bags donated by farmers who might otherwise have had to burn them! (Yes, please, we need more bags.)

The school curriculum has changed tremendously and reusing and recycling is starting to be accepted by children all over the country. Our teachers are enthusiastic about this new curriculum and are getting involved with our project.

To help raise awareness, the Patchwork Theatre will be doing performances with a focus on litter, recycling and saving our planet in various venues around Prince Albert. They will target everybody, not only children (watch this space for details).

As everybody is well aware, all schools in South Africa struggle financially, and therefore our schools are going to use this opportunity to raise some funds. It will work on the same principles as a Big Walk (people sponsor every bag of litter collected). There will be prizes for the most successful, enthusiastic teams or individuals.

After the initial Pick Up Day, we hope to start a collection system where the children will bring recyclable litter from home (NOT the rubbish dump) to school. This will earn them points which they can then exchange for useful items such as school stationery.

Why is litter such a problem? It affects our planet and all of us in many ways. But, it is closest to home that it creates squalor; when we live surrounded by litter, how can we feel any pride or pleasure in our surroundings?

Children walk barefoot in our warm climate and constantly run the risk of being cut by glass. By clearing litter, there might follow a sense of pride and with that, an inspiration to do something with a recently-cleared space: raising funds for a playground, or planting a vegetable garden or tree. The possibilities are endless, and we can only hope that at least a fraction of our ideas become reality.

As well as clearing up the town and learning about recycling and not littering, the aim is to have a fun day out! More details will follow in the next edition of the Prince Albert Friend.

Anybody that is interested in assisting in a hands-on fashion or financially (e.g. sponsorships) should contact:
Imke Maeyer on 023 5411184.

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