Tag Archives: recycling

September: a month worth celebrating

Tomorrow, the first of September, is the first day of spring! Not only will we have warmer weather and longer days, our energy and heating requirements will be reduced – great news for all carbon cutting champions. It’s also going to be a busy month – September is World Biodiversity Month and will be packed with events that you can join to help preserve our planet. 


We all have good cause to celebrate World Biodiversity Month here in South Africa, as our country is the third most biodiversity-rich country in the world! Although our country covers just 2% of the world’s land area, it is home to nearly 10% of the world’s plants and 7% of the reptiles, birds and mammals and 5.5% of insects. Our coast is home to almost 15% of known coastal marine species.

But we also have many reasons not to celebrate. With the effects of climate change and the unpredictable changing weather patterns our biodiversity is under threat.  Our planet’s capacity to continue to absorb the by-products of human activities such as gases and various toxins is in question, as is its capacity to provide the resources that growing human populations are projected to need in future.

• over 400 of South Africa’s plant and animal species are threatened with extinction;
• 34% of South Africa’s ecosystems are threatened, with 5% critically endangered;
• 18% of South Africa’s land has been transformed or degraded;
• almost half of South Africa’s river systems are critically endangered;
• over 7 million hectares of land in South Africa have been invaded by alien plants.

What can we do?
Well, with the first week in September being Arbour week, the International Day for the Protection of the Ozone Layer Day (16th), International Coastal Clean-up Day (18th) World Car-Free Day (22nd) and Heritage Day (24th) all falling in September there will be many ways which you can make a difference this month.

1-7 September
Arbour Week

First on the list this month: plant an indigenous tree for Arbour week. Planting and conserving trees (especially indigenous) offsets carbon emissions and contributes to urban greening. Every 5 or 6 new trees planted, which can live for 50 -100 years, offset 1 ton of carbon dioxide.  Different trees absorb different amounts of CO2 and older trees absorb greater amounts of greenhouse gases, than new trees. The tree for 2010 is Acacia Xanthophloea Fever tree, Koorsboom. More information: http://www.greenworks.co.za/arbourday.html








16 September
International Day for the Protection of the Ozone layer.
In 1985, nations around the world convened at Vienna in an attempt to develop a framework for co-operative activities to protect the Ozone layer. This signed agreement became known as the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. Since 1995 the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is celebrated to commemorate the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

We have made progress on fixing this planetary vulnerability, proof we can turn things around on climate change?

17 September
Recycling Day – a good day to organise your home recycling system, or start a recycling scheme at your work or school.  More information: http://www.recyclingday-sa.co.za/

18 September
International Coastal Cleanup Day. The International Coastal Cleanup started in 1986 and now happens in over 100 countries with more than 350 000 volunteers.  Join a group and help remove debris and rubbish from our shorelines, waterways and oceans. Each year, countless marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, and other animals are sickened, injured, or killed because of dangerous items we allow into the sea. They are poisoned, choked, or entangled in the trash we leave behind, from leaky paint cans to empty yogurt cups to cast-off fishing line.

Clean up events are happening across South Africa. Find an event near you: http://www.cleanup-sa.co.za/cleanupdiary.htm

22 September
World Car Free Day – leave your car behind today and walk or cycle to work or school instead. Around the world, Car Free Day is celebrated by more than 1392 cities to help highlight the pollution caused by cars, not just the fumes but the whole cycle of waste and disruption, the noise, delayed journeys, the whole human misery caused by traffic congestion and car pollution. Almost 40% of the transport sector’s CO2 emissions are produced by the use of private cars in cities. If you can avoid using your car on the 22nd September even for one journey you will be helping reduce pollution in your area and show the world you care! Who knows you might even save a little money and enjoy the change of pace.

More information: http://www.metta.org.uk/car_free_day.asp or http://www.worldcarfree.net/

For more information on trees:
Link to a 2010 trees of the year poster:

More information on biodiversity:

P90 club earns second eco-flag

Somerset College recently earned their second eco flag as part of the Eco-School network. Their Club project was assessed as part of the school’s green-flag submission. A ceremony was held during break time which was attended by the whole school. As part of the ceremony, girls from the Project 90 Club gave their rendition of Jack Johnson’s ‘3 Rs’.

In order to receive a second green flag the school is expected to maintain the progress they have already made on making their school sustainable, carrying out any recommendations from their previous assessment and extending their environmental program at the school. Congratulations Somerset College, fly your green flags with pride!

Eco-Schools  provide ‘a valuable curriculum framework for schools to work toward sustainable development goals…they commit to improving environmental learning and action through the curriculum. Relevant themes are chosen by the learners and teachers, lesson plans are developed and school improvement plans and records of their progress are collected in a portfolio.’ – Eco Schools website 

If you’d like to find out more about eco-schools and how they work in South Africa, visit http://www.wessa.org.za/index.php/Programs/Eco-Schools.html

Green Goal or Green Wash?

Brenda and I were invited to attend the FIFA World Cup Green Goal exhibition centre in the fan park at the Grande Parade in Cape Town last week. I went along feeling quite skeptical, as one tends to be when large multinationals start boasting about their eco-credentials.  

What I wanted to know was: was FIFA really implementing valuable sustainability programmes that would result in a reduction in carbon emissions and, would they continue after the World Cup had ended, or was this no more than a great big PR exercise?

I was particularly concerned after reading an article in the Engineering News which explained how three initiatives under the ‘Reducing the carbon footprint of major sporting events, FIFA 2010 and the Green Goal’ Project had been launched. The three initiatives were Greener Lighting to World Cup Host Cities, Green Passport and offsetting teams’ emissions. 

I became quite excited when I read that these initiatives received $10million between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Unep and the Department for Environmental Affairs.

Although the three initiatives sounded great, on closer inspection I discovered that it only included twelve billboards being switched to solar power; 60 solar traffic lights and 78 streetlights upgraded to use solar power. It also included offsetting team player’s flights and the handing out of a “green passport” eco information leaflet to football fans. Pretty meagre when you look at the budget they received!

What is also interesting to note was that this year the FIFA family itself and the Local Organising Committee has not made any contributions or committed to offset their emissions. They did however do so at the previous World Cup.

The 2010 World Cup is expected to generate 2,7 million tons of GHG – around eight times the footprint of the 2006 Germany World Cup.  Only 11 of the 32 participating teams have agreed to offset their emissions this year.

The carbon footprint of hosting the World Cup in Cape Town is around 180 000 tonnes of CO2. The determination of the carbon footprint of the event is an essential starting point and it seems that the City of Cape Town, with the Green Goal programme, has implemented some great programmes to reduce this footprint.

 A total of 41 projects have been identified across nine target areas:

  • Energy and climate change
  • Water
  • Integrated Waste Management
  • Transport, mobility and access
  • Landscaping and biodiversity
  • Green building and sustainable lifestyles
  • Responsible tourism
  • Green Goal communications
  • Monitoring, measurement and reporting

One excellent initiative which must be mentioned is the Cape Town Green Map. This interactive map, available on-line and in print, gives a comprehensive list of all things green in the city; green spaces, nature reserves, organic eateries, farmers’ markets, recycling drop-offs, sustainable living projects, eco products and other green choices useful to tourists and locals alike. Visit their website for more information: http://www.capetowngreenmap.co.za/ There are however concerns that once the World Cup is over there will no longer be funding for this excellent project.

Cape Town has also instituted a host of public transport options in and around the city – intercity busses, the first ever public transport from CT International airport, trains and park & ride facilities. However, whilst this is a great initiative it is discouraging that the majority of the transport in the city is only there for the World Cup and will not automatically continue. (The airport shuttle will continue but the inner city distribution services won’t.)

Recycling bins can be seen across the city centre allowing people to separate their wet and dry waste. The dry waste is sent to Athlone where it is sorted for reuse and recycling. Cape Town set a target for 20% of all waste from the World Cup to be recycled or reused. Project 90 has confirmed that this excellent recycling initiative will continue after the World Cup – and let’s hope that 20% will increase.

Another Cape Town initiative is promoting the drinking of tap water (Cape Town’s drinking water meets the highest international standards) and taps have been installed along the fan walk and at the fan fest. Although these will not remain in place after the World Cup they will be used when other events are planned in the city.  Videos promoting Cape Town’s safe tap water have been shown on the big screens at the Fan Fest throughout the tournament. 

Greenpoint stadium was fitted with water saving technologies and collects rain water on the roof . Spring water from table Mountain is being used to irrigate the green spaces around the stadium, which previously ran straight out to sea. This rain water and spring water will also be used to irrigate the nearby golf course instead of potable water.

GreenStaySA is a Green Goal legacy project that works with accommodation sites to become more environmentally friendly. Read more here:  http://www.greenstaysa.org.za/ag3nt/system/index.php

So, in conclusion I was most impressed with the City of Cape Town’s Green Goal programme, but a careful watch must be kept to ensure that these programmes continue now that the World Cup has ended. On the other hand, I am less than impressed with the Greener Lighting to World Cup Host Cities programme. The fact the FIFA is not making any contributions or committing to offset their emissions this year is a deplorable state of affairs.

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)

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.