George Tourism are stepping up their efforts to promote sustainability by launching a pilot programme to tackle marine plastic pollution.
The aptly named campaign; “Take 5 and Keep Our Seas Alive” will be launched at local beaches on the 10th of December. The promotion seeks to promote George as ‘the city for a sustainable future’. Holiday makers and beachgoers are invited to participate in this innovative project by collecting a minimum of five pieces of rubbish from the beach as they leave. The anti-pollution drive is a joint initiative between George Tourism, George Rotary Club and the George Herald
As the Garden Route prepares for its annual influx of tourists, the “Take 5” drive calls on individuals and local communities to take control of trash. Worldwide, approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic waste flows into the oceans each year. South Africa is recognised as one of the world’s worst offenders with regard to mismanaged plastic waste. Close examination of any Garden Route beach reveals a shocking quantity of discarded rubbish and tide-deposited plastic litter, including drinks bottles, straws, coffee cups, bottle caps, cigarette butts and lollipop sticks. Marine debris in the natural environment is not only unsightly but also poses threats to wildlife, such as fish, birds, sea turtles, seals and dolphins. These animals may become entangled or ingest garbage. Plastic debris does not biodegrade but fragments into increasingly smaller pieces.
Municipal Tourism Manager Joan Shaw says; “The Take 5 campaign is intended to educate people about plastic waste affecting our coastal environment. We hope this simple action by residents and visitors will help to keep the natural environment pristine, ensuring a better quality of life and better holidays. We want to preserve our natural heritage for future generations.”
In addition to participating in the “Take 5” campaign, Georgians can take these steps towards sustainability:
Refuse – Decline the option to use single use plastics as often as possible. Worldwide, approximately one million plastic bags and one million plastic drinks bottles are used per minute. Millions of these end up in the ocean. Bring a reusable, refillable water bottle to the beach, skip the straw, boycott the bag and pack a keep-cup for coffee.
Research – Interrogate the businesses you support. Do they respect the environment? Are they recycling their waste? Many Garden Route businesses are stepping up to sustainability and taking huge strides towards diverting waste from landfill. Joplin’s Steak bar in Wilderness has replaced their single use plastic drinking straws with reusable stainless steel alternatives. Food Co in George has replaced all their single use food packaging with biodegradable plant-based wrapping. Redipak George stocks an eco-packaging range, made from plant based, recycled and compostable materials.
Reduce – Globally enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times. We can all commit to minimising plastic packaging. Swap disposable zip lock bags for a lunchbox, choose loose fruit and vegetables over pre-packaged produce and back businesses who strive to do the same.
Reuse – Globally 95% of plastic packaging is used once and then discarded. Researchers estimate that if this trend continues there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean (by weight) by 2050. In an effort to combat this trend, we can select to reuse plastic items a number of time before they are disposed of responsibly.
Recycle – Colletively we can create a recycling culture in South Africa. Make use of the municipal appointed household recycling company; Interwaste Environmental Solutions. If you must use plastic, try to avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam as both have very low recycling rates. Request a blue bin recycling option at your workplace, school and church.
George Tourism invites all the city’s residents to “Take 5 to Keep Our Seas Alive” as a first step towards a more sustainable future.
For more information, call George Tourism Manager Joan Shaw on 044 8019103 or George Rotary Club Community Service Director Donald Goldfain on 083 251 8401.