It’s really disheartening when you see what global efforts are underway to deal with climate change and waste (well, perhaps with the exception of certain notable individuals with funny hairdos), and to see so little being done here.
Not so long ago, we were at the forefront of changing smoking laws, charging for plastic bags in shops and managing wildlife environments. And I really do mean not so long ago. It was in the late 1990s that smoking was banned in the workplace and confined to designated areas in restaurants. And in May 2003, legislation was introduced to decrease plastic bag litter by charging for bags.
Since then, however, things have gone downhill. We hear daily about the Mpumalanga Highveldt being one of the worst polluted places in the world. The dumping of building rubble and debris has become a daily occurrence in Joburg and I’m sure elsewhere, raw sewage is pumped in massive volumes into our rivers and dams, with efforts to address this embroiled in bureaucracy, and waste recycling programmes to address landfill issues are largely not working.
And what of private sector efforts? Well, Pick n Pay have launched schemes designed to reduce plastic packaging waste with their reusable fresh produce bags (launched in May, but only in stores in the Western Cape) and their nude produce walls (launched in 13 stores at the beginning of this month).
In our home, we are trying to do what we can, but since there’s plastic in teabags and kitchen towel, meaning even they are not biodegradable, it’s a daily challenge. Toothpaste, household cleaners, toilet paper, face- and baby-wipes, earbuds, micro cleaning cloths… the list is endless. And worse still is that most people are largely unaware of the damage these goods are doing.