Our 1st Youth Awareness Event and Follow-up Clean
On July 24 Pristine Earth Collective hosted our first Youth Awareness Event on the Lotus River. We took 22 youths and 2 community leaders on a “source to sea” type journey of waste along a single river, in partnership with the City of Cape Town’s Green Jobs department (an employment program tied in with river cleansing and invasive plant species removal).
From an illegal dumping hotspot in Gugulethu, we took the learners further downstream, to a Litterboom on the Lotus River in Grassy Park, another underserved community. They were shown the direct impact of the waste at source, within their community and then how the Litterboom installed across the river traps the surface waste and intercepts ocean-bound plastics. This allowed us to illustrate the intensity of waste that travels downstream daily toward the wetlands of Zeekoevlei and showcase interventions.
From there the youth were taken on an exciting boat trip on the Zeekoevlei, kindly provided by the Friends of Zeekoevlei & Rondevlei. This gave them a first-hand experience of the delicate ecosystem at the end of the river, which is annually drawn down to flush into the ocean of False Bay (Muizenburg). They enjoyed this immensely, especially after months of being locked down in their neighbourhoods.
Feedback was very positive from the community leaders, with the youths forming clean up groups to work in their areas of Gugulethu to clear unused spaces and drive change in their communities and homes.
As a follow-up to the initial awareness event, and following the prompting from the youth involved, Pristine Earth Collective conducted our first community clean up with 40 passionate youths in the Gugulethu township on the 13th of August 2020. Those involved had expressed concern about waste piling up on the curbside near one of the main soup kitchens. Once they were divided into teams, they got stuck into clearing and packing the waste under the supervision of community leaders and one of our Directors, George van der Schyff. The waste included not only plastic but organic and building materials too, again the result of illegal dumping.
Within 90 minutes we had filled up 112 solid waste bags (over 300kg). The children were then treated to lunch at Gogo’s Kitchen.
With insights from these and ongoing events with the Gugulethu community, we are working to identify key youth environmental champions/stewards within the community. Our hope is that they will take on a sense of ownership of their section of the township and be incentivised for doing so through experiences and materials.