So you wish you could do more to save the planet on World Environment Day, but just cannot find the time? While it may seem like such a mission to do your bit for the environment; nobody really expects you to chain yourself naked to a tree singing Kumbaya!
Here are three things you can do to stand up for the environment without even leaving your desk:
1) Force Out Single-Use Plastic
Yes, this is becoming a bit of a buzzword – you know that's the case when government departments start announcing their superficial interventions to combat the issue just to stay trendy. But, that it has got to an alarming point where we are literally breathing in plastic from micro fibres in our clothes.
A group of Durban environmentalists have started an anti-plastics campaign to take the issue head-on - a campaign that has local food retailers sweating! Their main targets seem to be Kauai, Ocean Basket and Wimpy. They want these franchises to abandon all single-use plastic items because only 10 percent of the plastic in the world ever gets recycled - the rest ends up in the ocean.
The campaign has inspired many to start their own campaigns against local business across the continent. You too can demand that food franchises #BreakFreeFomPlastic.
2) Save Soweto Wetlands
The Oupa Fats Wetlands situated between three of Joburg's oldest townships – Eldoradopark, Lenasia and Soweto – is under serious threat.
Due to poor decision-making under the apartheid government, the wetland sits under the management of the wrong department and not City Parks like other nature reserves in Johannesburg. This has led to the area's degradation because of poor maintenance (or complete lack thereof), illegal dumping and sand mining – which leaves this natural wonder looking like a wasteland.
A group of community activists have been fighting a decade-long battle to get the wetland reallocated to City Parks; and have, in the meantime, taken responsibility and are preserving the area out of their own pockets. This is not enough, however, given the sheer size of the area that they are trying to protect. Help them convince the city to do the right thing.
3) Stop Cape Town's Unsustainable Property Development
Bo-Kaap residents standing up against the gentrification in their historic neighbourhood, which is driving them out and destroying their heritage, have brought issues of the class divide in the "Mother City" back to the fore.
It seems that the city keeps prioritising the interest of the upper class in its decision-making, leaving ordinary citizens helpless. Not only do these new property developments drive out poorer communities, but they waste a lot of water during construction – water that the city doesn't have.
The unfortunate reality is that ordinary citizens will have to bear the brunt of this. Call out the city on this inhumane practice and remind them to put people first.