Members of the global volunteer group ASEZ WAO took to Church Square on Thursday January 16 to educate people about plastic pollution.
About 50 volunteers took people from the streets to the board presentation, which detailed statistics on the damage plastic causes to marine life and to humans, as well as the Giant Garbage Island in the Pacific Ocean — a patch half the size of Texas made up of waste plastic.
The presentation forms part of the Take Action Project, launched in 2018 and driven by ASEZ WAO.
Other campaigns within the project involve raising awareness about climate change and human rights.
ASEZ WAO member Kusile Kewana said by 2021, the group would try to pick up 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic during voluntary clean-ups around the city in an attempt to reduce plastic.
She said they chose Church Square as a location in the hope of reaching parliamentary workers, and also people from all different walks of life who work in the city centre, so that they can tap into people’s awareness for the sustainable development of the earth and take action together.
Tendani Mugovhani, a group leader at ASEZ WAO, said it was important that people knew the damage that plastic caused.
“Somewhere in the ocean, there is an island made of plastic. It kills and injures marine life. The issue is it’s not the plastic — it is us, and therefore it’s our problem. Animals are dying every day because we don’t dispose of plastic properly.”
She said one of the most shocking facts she came across during the campaign is that microplastic eaten by marine life and fish but not broken down can sometimes be ingested by humans.
“The average human eats about a credit card of plastic a month.”
Unathi Templeton, who works in the city centre, said the presentation gave him lots of insight, as he never knew plastic caused so much damage.
“I will not buy bottled water anymore so that I use less plastic,” he said.
Kate Aebischer said while she was aware of the damage plastic causes, it was inspiring that there were organisations who were trying to raise awareness about the issue.
“I try to live sustainably all the time. I take my own bags to shops and try to be aware of packaging we use at work. I do everything I can to reduce my plastic use.”
Linda Oosthuizen is part of a group that cleans the Black River in Little Mowbray in an effort to reduce waste in nature.
“We also recycle in our household. I think making people aware of the little things and changing small things like not buying a bag makes a big difference.”
Clayton Arendse said he was unaware of how many birds and fish die due to ingesting plastic. “And we eat the fish and we end up swallowing it too. It’s important for people to know this.”
He said he will start by doing little clean ups with his friends
in his hometown of Kraaifontein.
David Jackson said it was shocking how much plastic people use and how it effectively pollutes the ocean when it isn’t disposed of properly.