Have you ever avoided a certain set of robots or a particular route, just to avoid someone trying to sell you something on the side of the road? I know I have. Sometimes the guilt is just too much, and as I sit in my car listening to music, stressing about money or my next meeting I start thinking; who am I to avoid this topic, especially when the man who comes up to my window has completely different stress issues on a day to day basis. There is one particular person I am thinking of here; the man who comes to my window every singles morning, with a “Piki-Tup” recycling bag, and offers to take all the junk from my car in exchange for a few coins.

The issue is that many of us don’t consider what happens to that plastic bottle after we’ve thrown it away, even if we do give it to this man.  We don’t think about the person who comes to clear it up, or who takes it to the recycling depot- or even if that is where it’s going. Many of us don’t stop to think about where that man goes every night after he finishes working the streets, or if in fact he does take that rubbish to exchange the recyclable goods for money. But what I can tell you is that he most certainly doesn’t go home to a home with a view of a mountain or the ocean, or the koppies, he doesn’t sit on his couch with a beer and watch the sunset. Most likely, he returns home with his bag of junk, exchanges what he can, and with the money he earns buys himself a small meal for the night and pays for his transport home. He looks outside and sees the very thing he worked at clearing today; litter. It spills into the streets and clogs the drains; dogs and cats rummage through it in hopes of finding scraps, and children make toys from the plastic rings and bottles.

So, are we avoiding the issue? Do we ease our minds by separating plastics from tin and paper from glass? Or do we really know the effects of our consumption, on people have no choice but to live amongst it.

 

Recently, our team launched “The ABC of Recycling”. This pamphlet is the complete guide to recycling covering topics from E-Waste to tips on how to be creative with your waste. I think it’s time for South Africans to stand up for their environment, and become proactively involved in what we can do. Every little bit helps- in a bigger way than we might think. If one person makes the change, how many more will follow the lead?

 

“The ABC of Recycling” is available for download from www.greenpeace.org/africa.