Category Archives: Waste Management

Project 90 Kicks Off Local Soccer Initiative

Project 90×2030 is partnering with Great Commission United Academy (GCU) headed by Mario van Niekerk. This is an inspiring project that encompasses youth, soccer and the environment in the township of Heideveld in Cape Town.  

Mario aims to redirect the cycle of crime through involving the children in the surrounding area in soccer, other sporting activities and food gardens. Children are given responsibility through taking ownership of the food gardens which creates a sense of community and hope in the soccer teams. The children spread the ‘Gospel of Greening’ as Mario also aims to start a recycling initiative in his community. These activities help the children to stay away from gang and drug related activities. Darren from GCU Academy says: “It [GCU Academy] keeps me from roaming the streets, not to do drugs, and to stay out of the gangs.” Mario believes in the idea of  ‘prehabilitation’ instead of rehabilitation which does not respond to the past but rather builds the future.  

 GCU has received funding through Project 90×2030 to complete various projects which will enable:

  • 10 youth soccer teams to be equipped with soccer kits, training equipment and soccer balls
  • 40 families to start a home garden
  • 1 community garden to be established as a show and training garden
  • 20 soccer team members will become skilled in reuse and recycling of solid waste materials (paper, cardboard, steel, aluminium, copper and plastics)
  • 4 training workshops to be held

If you are interested in supporting GCU please visit www.gcu.org.za and if you are interested in donating anything please explore their wish list on GCU’s website.

Story by: Rebekah Hughes (Springfield Convent Senior School)

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Project 90 celebrates World Environment Day

We took seven of our school clubs on an outing to Goedgedacht Farm to celebrate World Environment Day on Saturday. Fifty learners from seven schools joined us for a day of fun in the sun.

Project 90 clubs are tasked with reducing their school’s carbon footprint by 10% each year. Clubs decide on how they are going to do this and formulate a project, getting ideas and support from their club coordinator. Each club presented their project to the rest of the group telling us what changes they had planned for their school. All the projects were well thought out, very creative and inspiring!

Waldorf School showed the group how to make an “E-ball” which reuses plastic bags by turning them into a soccer ball.  Bernhard felt that this was a really cool way of recycling and Sophie explained how the money collected from selling the balls would be used to decrease the amount of water used by Waldorf school.

St George’s Grammar had decided to improve their school’s recycling system. With their “Act now, think forward” slogan and comprehensive plan to increase recycling bins, education and awareness this club is definitely on the road to success. Antaya explained that most people don’t think that recycling is fun but assured everyone that it’s not only for old ladies with cats! This group therefore proposed having a recycling day each Friday where all the children could wear green to inject some spark and fun into recycling.

South Peninsula school had conducted a green audit and found that a lot of money was being spent on electricity bills. They planned to host a fundraiser to buy LED lights to replace fluorescent bulbs in the places which used the most energy. They also wanted to create an indigenous garden at their school where people could sit and reflect and planned to use grey water to water the garden.  Taryn felt that no-one thinks being environmentally friendly is cool so this group is setting out to change perceptions.

Somerset College had already received the second eco-school flag but were now aiming for a third! They planned to do this by putting in more energy saving light bulbs, encouraging lift clubs and doing a waste audit. They aimed to get a bio digester for the school. They were building a number of owl boxes for their local owls and during detention children would be sent to the river to de-weed the dam – what a great idea!

Rhodes High’s motto was “saving the environment one dirt bag at a time”. They presented a detailed plan on how they would increase recycling through interclass competitions, and put more recycling bins around the school, including one in each classroom. The funds that they received would go to underprivileged children – what a generous bunch.

The group of very organized girls from Springfield had set out one activity for each month of the year. They planned to collect old science chemicals for proper disposal in July; August would see the replacement of paper towels with reusable ones in the bathrooms, switching to eco-friendly cleaning products and a new compost heap; September’s plans were to install a water meter, replace bulbs with LEDs and CFLs and start a battery and e-waste collection drive. Then in October the girls plan to recalculate their carbon footprint to see what difference their actions have made.

All the clubs felt that it helped to see and hear what other clubs were doing and were encouraged to know that they were not working in isolation. After the project presentations we all went for a small hike up to the fog harvester – which was the highlight of the day for most.

At the end of the day everyone was given a small Spek Boom to take home and plant. Thanks to everyone for making this such a fun and exciting day and we look forward to seeing the results of your projects at the end of the year.

Check out our photos from the day on facebook and flikr.

Join the 2010 Climate Challenge

As you know, Project 90 launched our 2010 Climate Challenge last week which extends to all South Africans committed to changing the way they live today.   

There are a large variety of challenges in the 2010 campaign that you could take up. We will award prizes for best achievers!

1. Measurable on-line challenge submissions can now be made in these categories:
a. For schools – targets for carbon footprint reduction projects that will aim for at least 10% reduction by the end of 2010.
b. For companies – On-line submission of targets for 10% energy savings by means of physical technology changes in their operations. 
c. Targets to save water and reduce water footprints by at least 10% by December 2010.
d. Targets to reduce travel carbon footprints by at least 10% by December 2010.
e. Targets to reduce carbon footprints on waste – reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill by 10% by December 2010.

On-line submissions can be made on the I am changing the world website: www.iamchangingtheworld.org.za/climate-challenge

2. The Bicycle Empowerment Network (BEN) South Africa is challenging all commuters to achieve targets for utilising their bicycles instead of driving their cars, as well as achieving targets for simply using their bicycles more often for additional reasons. This includes using the bicycle as a way to keep fit & healthy. You can register your participation in this challenge on the I am changing the world website.

3. The South Africa chapter of 350.org is challenging South Africans to make the tenth day of the tenth month of the millennium’s tenth year a real marker for concrete climate action. They’re calling it the 10/10 Global Work Party, to reduce emissions by 10% this year and each year ahead of us until we’re living carbon-light! Register your work party pledge at 350.org.

4. In partnership with I am Changing the World we are running a monthly photo campaign as part of the 2010 Climate Challenge – the theme for this month is ‘Keeping warm without using Electricity’ – we do ask that you bear in mind we do have lots of younger followers so send in clean pictures only! Your photos can be submitted here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/I-am-Changing-the-World/130367249536?v=photos.

5. In partnership with Activist! we will run an on-line campaign for government to invest in 4 million free domestic solar water heaters instead of building new dirty power stations. And look out for Activist! flashmob alerts in your area. Activist website: www.activist.co.za will have the on-line campaign up in the next few weeks.

6. Send us your ideas for cutting carbon each month here: http://www.iamchangingtheworld.org.za/climate-challenge/. We will feature the best ideas received in our newsletter each month.

Earth Day

Thursday 22 April is Earth Day, a day celebrated around the world to highlight and promote awareness of the need to protect our fragile planet. Now, more than ever with the threats of climate change, pollution, habitat destruction, water scarcity and biodiversity loss we need to ensure the survival of our world and her inhabitants.

This will be the 40th Earth Day and we at Project 90 by 2030 urge everyone to take one small step this Thursday to show your commitment to protecting your world.

Here are some ideas that you could pledge to do on Earth Day:

  • Use our carbon calculator to work out your carbon footprint here: http://www.90×2030.org.za/view.asp?pg=calculator
  • Plant an indigenous tree
  • Organise a litter clean-up
  • Write a list of green goals that you aim to complete by Earth Day next year
  • Don’t drink bottled water
  • Start a recycling system at your home or work
  • Have a vegetarian day
  • Make a donation to an environmental cause
  • Talk to your friends and colleagues about what you can do to change your lifestyles
  • Buy locally produced food

Here is a great Greenpeace video about protecting our planet:

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/getinvolved/give-earth-a-hand

Sue Bellinger says “Just Fix It and Use the Old One”

Dear friends,

The economic downturn is a perfect opportunity to fix rather than throw!

‘It’s cheaper to get a new one’ – how often have we heard or said that?  Or ‘beyond its sell-by date’.  Built-in – or planned – obsolescence, with us since the 1930s, means manufacturers design their products’ demise or non-functionality within a certain planned timeframe specifically to pressurize the consumer to make another purchase.  Brooks Stevens, an American industrial designer in the 1950s defined this as “Instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary” Wikipaedia tells us.

Does all this ring alarm bells?

Who exactly pays for this?  We do, of course.  And we’ve been doing it willingly – blindly believing that we have no choice in the matter.  Ever noticed too how often the ‘end-of-life’ comes and smacks us in the chops just when we can least afford a replacement?

‘Get the latest, greatest up-to-date-ist Model XYZ when you renew your contract with us’ is another ploy used to ensure both that we ‘get’ the newest technology (whether or not we want or will ever use the latest refinements), and bind ourselves yet again into lengthy – and sometimes inappropriately-expensive – commitments.  Let us not be suckered into believing that we’re not paying for that new technology, just because we’re in a contract.
Both of these techniques may ensure both that we as consumers spend more Rands than sense, and also that our planet’s resources are used up more speedily than they need be.

After all, what goes into making up that appliance (iron, kettle, mixer/mincer/liquidiser/shredder, hairdryer, washing machine etc)  or tool (drill, leaf-blower, mower, etc) or device (PC, cellphone, ipod, etc)?  Mainly metals and minerals that must be mined, and compounds manufactured from oil derivatives – such as plastics.  Let’s consider those processes in a little depth – mining (of metals, minerals and oil) entails digging to great depths (involving energy and water in large quantities), raising materials to the surface (more energy and water), dumping unwanted mined materials (soil, water, habitat impacts), processing materials to the required level and then multiple transportation and manufacturing processes (requiring abundant energy and water use) until the required product is manufactured.   And some of the materials are toxic heavy metals, or contain toxic substances (eg. flame retardants).

And then when the planned obsolescence kicks in or social pressure exerts its grip, the article that not so long ago was oh-so-desirable lands up in landfill – its glory days over;  its components lost to us for re-use.  And the signal we really send out is ‘please go and mine some more plastic/metals/minerals so that I can have a spanking new version, and while you’re about it use more water and energy’.

There is another way.  And now that most of us are feeling an alarming pinch in the purse, what about seeking out those marvellous Mr Fix-Its.  And when you’ve found them – recommend them to others.  Their time has come for them to make a decent income, and for us to take care of our purses and our future.

A friend recently told me about his barely 2-year’s old digital camera going on the blink.  ‘It’s cheaper to buy a new one’ was the supplier’s comment, while he proceeded to display his new models – all costing a couple of thousand Rands more than the original.  Off to the website was my friend – and within a short time had located a nearby fixer of digital cameras.  A couple of hundred Rand and it was repaired while he waited – what a happy chappie he is (and about R1800 richer than he would have been had he listened to the supplier).

If your appliance/gadget really has finally reached the point of no-repair, e-WASA is in the wings, currently with listed collection points for refurbishing or recycling  in Gauteng, KZN, Western and Eastern Cape.  There are collection points for office and IT equipment and accessories, consumer electronics, safety equipment, and large and small household appliances and accessories. The website also makes mention of an ARF (no, not what your pet seal greets you with in the early morning, but an Advanced Recycling Fee).  Not yet in place, once this is established, it will be incorporated in the original purchase price of electrical and electronic goods, and will fund the e-WASA recycling process.

Recycling e-waste (waste from electrical and electronic equipment) ensures that much of the valuable material contained in the equipment, which might otherwise land up in ‘the dump’ or be deconstructed unsafely – releasing toxic and other dangerous compounds (eg. mercury, cadmium) into air, water or soil – is instead recovered for re-use.  Which means reduced demand for mining and all that goes with that process. For more info regarding e-waste and e-WASA, contact Lene Ecroignard at  lene.e@webafrica.org.za

Some day all goods will hopefully be designed for sustainability – designed to ensure that in their use and final disposal they have least possible negative environmental impact, and possibly even a positive one.  I’ll drink to that!

And that reminds me, in an earlier article, I promised to keep readers informed of when the very first Biomimicry course in South Africa is to be held.  30 August – 6 September are the dates to diarise if you or your organisation want to be ahead of the pack in sustainable thinking and ability to design products and processes using Nature’s example – creating conditions conducive to life, while living abundantly. This spells hope for the planet (including you and I, and our progeny) for the future.  For more information, see www.biomimicryinstitute.org or contact Claire Janisch at claire@geniuslab.co.za

Download this article here.

© Sue Bellinger, July 2009

Sue Bellinger re-imagine National Cleanup Week

One of the most sustainable activities that I’ve come across is ‘cleanups’.  We do them over and over again, in the same places and the same way.  Come September we’ll ‘celebrate’ National Cleanup Week.  Hordes of community members, schoolchildren and corporate employees will be urged to ‘celebrate’ and participate.  Kitted out with gloves, wellies and garbage bags, t-shirts and peaks emblazoned with sponsor’s logo and cleanup slogans, they’ll take to our streets, empty spaces, parks, neighbourhoods and rivers.

They’ll pick up plastic bottles and bags, cans and stompies, nappies and tyres, fast food containers and bottles, boxes and paper, and a host of unmentionables.  They’ll sweat and they’ll swear that they’ll never do another cleanup.  And at the end of the day the sponsors might dish out sweets and chips, cold drinks in bottles or cans, fast food in polystyrene containers.  Often no bins or bags are provided for the resulting waste, and the cleaner-upperer’s become litterers.

Participants take their sponsored apparel and their weary bones home at the end of the day, claiming that they ‘celebrated’ National Cleanup Week.  And sponsors place another tick against their ‘community involvement’ list.
Don’t get me wrong – right now the cleanups are necessary and I applaud all those worthy volunteers.  But isn’t our approach a bit short-sighted!

How could we really CELEBRATE National Cleanup Week?  Imagine not having to clean up, for starters? We need to start preparing now – with awareness-raising about behaviours that cause litter.  About purchases that result in waste and litter.  Reminding last year’s participants that cleaning-up was an eye-opener, sure, but shouldn’t need repeating.  We’ve already seen how great our surroundings can look – and we aim to keep them that way.  Not for us cleanups merely to show the rest of the world how we CAN look.  Oh no, we’re after cleaner surroundings FOR US.

Imagine celebrating National Cleanup Week when there‘s nothing to clean up.  It will become a day of real celebration.

What if we set ourselves a goal of improved health?  Improved health requires improved nutrition, cleaner air, water and surroundings, and adequate exercise.   Let’s educate ourselves and others about how to obtain good nutrition – certainly not from chip packets, sweets or sugary, coloured cold drinks.  Seeking good nutrition means seeking fresh fruit and veg over expensive, processed ‘treats’.

If good health is our goal, we can seek to grow our own produce.  We can feed the soil with compost made from fruit and veg peelings and other organic matter, so eliminating the odours and mess that result from dumped food waste.  We can nurture earthworms to munch their way through the organic matters.  And all of this activity constitutes a good dollop of healthy exercise in the open air.  Everyone in the family can do their bit in the garden.  Improved family-time can result.  We’ll also have more money in our own pockets when we’re growing real food for ourselves and not buying ‘junk foods’ from shops.

Reduced consumption of chips, sweets, cold drinks etc. means less packaging waste and less litter.  Less litter means cleaner surroundings and cleaner storm water drains and waterways.  These mean less money having to be spent by authorities on cleaning up.  More money in the authorities’ coffers means more funds available for more important issues – housing, health, crime prevention, education, etc.  (The DEAT – Department of Environment and Tourism’s State of Environment Report for 1999 states that we collectively generate 42 million m3 of general waste p.a. in South Africa – closer to the quantity produced per capita in developed countries like the UK than in developing countries like Nepal.  One can hardly imagine the millions of Rands that it takes to collect, cleanup and dispose of that volume.  And these statistics relate to waste generation 10 years ago, with our consumption and littering having escalated drastically in the intervening period.)

Imagine a new-style National Cleanup Week – celebrating good nutrition and good health, cleaner air and water.  We could serve healthy home-grown food produced by our own labours, topped off with fresh fruit drinks – food and drink which don’t contribute to litter but do contribute to good health and good cheer.  We’d have singing and dancing, games and poetry, mime and rhyme. Let’s start now – some ideas for how to get going:

  • Schools can tackle tuck-shop trash by switching focus gradually to serving healthy, nutritious foods only – served in compostable paper.  An audit of what’s currently on offer in the tuck-shop, and the litter that it causes, will point the way to go.
  • Participants in this year’s cleanups can take the following message to sponsors – prevention is better and much more fun than cure.  Seek their support to change habits in your community so that next year your ‘celebration’ can be altogether different to this year’s.  The new-style celebration will celebrate no labour and no cleanup costs – but rather improved health, clean surroundings and a reduced community footprint.

Which way will you choose to ‘celebrate?’  The ‘old’ way perhaps for this year – but make sure that your organization/ school/ community knows that next year National Cleanup Week will be something completely different.  It’s up to us to make it that way! (Download a copy of this article.)

*National Cleanup Week is the 14th – 19th of September 2009.

Sue Bellinger

Climate Champions: Michaelhouse School, KZN

Biogas generation at Michaelhouse School

In the past few years the world has come to realise the importance of preserving our valuable energy reserves, and especially here in South Africa we have started to see the beginnings of major environmental problems. Many conventional methods of creating energy for human use rely on these swiftly depleting resources, such as coal and oil. They also pose a huge threat to our environment, in the fact that when they are burnt they release noxious gases and these are slowly degrading the state of our atmosphere.  As a result of this we, a duo of pupils at Michaelhouse, in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands, decided to try to develop a clean, efficient means of creating energy.

Considering the recent development of the Michaelhouse’s Oribi reserve, and the fact that cow manure is readily available, we posed the question: “Why not utilise what we have readily available on our doorstep to create energy?” So, with the help of our school environmentalist, Paul Fleischack, we decided to undertake the arduous task of producing methane by means of a biogas digester.

Biogas is a term used to describe the anaerobic respiration of organic matter in order to produce a gas, which is usually methane, which can be used as an energy source.  Now seeing as methane is one of the greatest contributors to the greenhouse effect, and cows produce 15% of the world’s methane, we thought it appropriate to try and utilise the one of the by-products of these animals to produce methane- cow dung!

The “science” behind methane production from cow manure is relatively simple. The bacteria contained within the cow’s stomach anaerobically digest the cellulose contained in its diet of organic matter to produce energy. As a by-product of this process methane, amongst other gases, is produced, and this is what a digester fundamentally simulates.  To make a simple digester, cow dung is collected and placed in a sealed drum with an outlet pipe that is connected to a collection vessel.  It is then left and in time the digestive processes will occur. This results in methane production.

Using simple, everyday pieces of equipment we obtained through generous sponsorship from WESSA, we constructed our own digester. At first all did not go well.  The wide-mouthed plastic drum purchased (with ease of filling in mind) proved to be about as air tight as a barn and no gas was collected in the inner tube attached to the drum. Another plan had to be made. The plastic drum was substituted with a metal oil drum.  The delicate task of transferring the aromatic slurry of cow dung, chicken litter and water to the new drum, with an opening of only 70mm in diameter was undertaken with great care, but despite this a number of assistants needed a good shower when the task was complete.

Small_BIOGAS~2

Pic: Digester with collection tube. Unsuccessful plastic digester on left.

The necessary plumbing fittings were sourced, sealed with plumbing tape and within four days we had filled our first inner-tube with gas. Our excitement was soon dampened when this gas failed to ignite. We think it was the air in the top half of the drum which had been displaced into the tube.  Not daunted we attached the second empty inner-tube which was inflated two days later. This time the Bunsen burner produced a pure blue flame – methane!

The autumn temperature in Balgowan can drop to freezing at night. This along with the small volume of our digester (200L), which will not maintain the required temperature of 38˚C for long, we have had to rely on an electrical heating system for our pilot plant. This has been provided by three confiscated electric blankets. These have been wrapped around the digester, which was then covered with insulation (old swimming pool blanket) to reduce heat loss. In a larger, sustainable system, the digester would be heated by burning some of the methane produced.

We have managed to boil 250ml water using half a tube of gas, a result which we hope to improve by scrubbing the gas emitted from the digester. Scrubbing is the removal of inflammable gases, such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide, from the gas emitted from the digester. To do this we will bubble the gas through an airtight container with water and iron filings.

This methane can be used to perform many different functions. Firstly, it is safe to burn through an everyday gas stove without any modifications. Secondly it can be used as a fuel for a petrol engine with minimal modifications. By simply replacing the fuel tank with a pressurized tank and adjusting the intake manifold and the carburettor a petrol engine is transformed into an environmentally friendly machine! This can then be used to run a generator.

David & Michael

Pic: Michael sitting on tube to expel gas while David measures temperature of water over flame

So far our project has been successful and a great learning experience! Further development is crucial and we look forward to the prospect of finalising an efficient method of producing energy that could hopefully be used to power parts of the school in the future.  We hope to show that our simple pilot plant can be modified to a larger system which would allow the school to harvest energy from our own sewage.

By David Brill & Michael Venter (Grade 10 learners at Michaelhouse School, Midlands, KZN)