SPAR Eastern Cape took their campaign to clean up the environment on Mandela Day to Port Elizabeth’s northern areas yesterday when they joined hands with several parties and the Sanctor schools to make a difference.
Set up by the Project Nelson Mandela Bay Clean City Task Team, with support from SPAR EC and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, pupils from the Sanctor primary and high schools assisted in the clean-up of an area adjacent to the institutions which was covered with litter.
At the end of the exercise a total of 312 bags of refuse had been collected, reinforcing for many young members of society the importance of a healthy environment.
The 67 minutes for Mandela has become a special project in South Africa, with various initiatives taking place in memory of the late president on the occasion of his birthday.
Speakers yesterday, however, urged those in attendance at the Bethelsdorp occasion to take it further than just a period of 67 minutes.
SPAR EC sponsorship and events manager Alan Stapleton outlined how they had relaunched Phase II of the STOP Plastic campaign last week.
“Our approach is that even if each one of us just makes a little difference, it can lead to a huge change in our world,” he said.
“I want to welcome you here today and encourage you to have fun while doing something good for society for 67 minutes.
“But we also urge you to take it a bit further so that what you learn today you take forward in your lives.
“We want you to be aware of the plastic problem, what we can do to solve it and to constantly look at alternatives for packaging such as the paper bags.”
Clint Plaatjies, of the NMB Municipality waste management department, reminded the children that one of Mandela’s four primary ideas for a good society was to live in a clean and healthy environment.
“If it is not kept clean by us then we will suffer as humans, and so will the animals,” he said.
“It is our basic responsibility to keep the area where we live clean and if you learn discipline at home then when you go out into the world you can apply that to keeping our environment clean.
“Today will teach you more about littering and I know you will learn things and have a different mindset about managing waste as you go forward.”
Sanctor High pupils Tameryn Hammond, 16, and Dominic Langston, 17, said they were delighted to be involved in the project.
“As it is Madiba’s birthday, we are happy to be doing something good for the community,” said Hammond.
“If you look around us, it’s something that needs to be and we want the city and our environment to be a cleaner, better place.
“I think by doing something like this it will teach us more about littering and spread the word among our friends. Even if we just do little things, it can make a difference.”
Considering the litter in the area, Langston said it was good place to start.
“It’s something to help our community and also we are happy to support the STOP Plastic campaign that is being promoted by SPAR,” he said.
The pupils were instructed on what litter was recyclable and non-recyclable. They were provided with different coloured bags for the items and then divided into teams to clear the area of the rubbish.