CELEBRATING Environmental Awareness Month in February, Wildlands, a Hilton NPO, which started recycling in the greater Pietermaritzburg area in 2010, is determined to encourage the public to recycle by promoting its recycling projects. Many of its initiatives encourage the poor and marginalised people to barter recyclable waste for livelihood support. As such the Trees for Life Programme, Khuthaza Business, Green Desks and others have become successful. Speaking to Maritzburg Fever, Wildlands executive director Dr Roelie Kloppers, said the need for recycling is well documented and propagated in schools, in the media and even on goods packaging in stores. However, in many areas, consumers have no option but to discard waste in municipal landfill sites as there is no recycling service. “Wildlands Recycling provides that service and campaigns for recycling in schools, poor and rich communities and with business partners. “Through the visible recycling villages and stations at shopping centres, schools and businesses Wildlands promotes the recycling message and enables people to change their behaviour,” he said. However, recycling is dependent on the support of the public. The extent to which Wildlands can service communities and schools is dependent on donations received or generated through the re-sale of recyclables. As a result, the geographic reach of the operation is curtailed by various factors and it may not be possible for all schools and communities to be serviced. “Our projects enable people to fully participate in recycling. The children and community can see the trucks arrive and the recycling being collected. This way recycling evolves from being a concept to becoming a reality. This allows them to change their behaviour and become more environmentally conscious. “This growth allows the programme to expand from its pro-poor-only focus to an integrated recycling solution, partnering with schools, businesses and the private sector. Through this, Wildlands is able to provide a niche recycling service in an area where most waste lands are on landfill sites thus creating a significant environmental problem,” said Kloppers.Wildlands-Nedbank Sustainable Schools Project The sustainable school’s project encourages pupils to care for their environment so natural processes can be sustained for the benefit of future generations. Now in its second year, pupils are taught that landfill sites have a lifespan and they are shown, through demonstrations, how to recycle in order to reduce the amount of waste sent to these landfill sites. Since its inception seven years ago the number of recycling schools has grown to over 70 in the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands area. A number of years ago Wildlands ignited the recycling movement in local schools and received overwhelming support for this initiative. Currently the recycling depot is unable to take on any more schools and is working hard to service its many schools, some of whom have recycling villages that are supported by the surrounding community. Recycling villages at some of the schools are supported by the community. The colourful Wildlands bins for the recycling streams are a familiar sight at schools as are the Wildlands collection trucks and drivers.Khuthaza BusinessKhuthaza Business is a micro-entrepreneur-enterprise development arm of Wildlands that began in 2014 and is currently in its fourth generation of micro-entrepreneurs.The programme enables micro-entrepreneur and enterprise development through capital barter grants, mentorship and training. One of the aims is to help communities see the economic value in preserving the environment so communities see environment protection as a way out of poverty and an opportunity to earn, as well as improve, their living standards. The approach has always been community based and has had a positive response from communities the team has worked in thus far. Businesses are the main drivers through their funding, guidance and training.What started off as 40 micro-entrepreneurs in 2014 has now grown 162 in 2016 with over 90% being women throughout the life of the programme. An average monthly revenue of a micro-entrepreneurs has grown from R1 500 to R6 000 a month. Khuthaza has in many ways enabled them to see themselves as role players in the economy beyond that of raising children, and this has also trickled down to their families as most of them are now able to afford post-matric schooling for their children.Clothes for LifeClothes for Life, now in its second year, is a second-hand clothes collection from schools. Clothes for Life doubles as a recycling initiative where donated clothes are reused by supplying “tree-preneurs” with stock to start their own businesses through selling clothes.Participating schools encourage pupils to donate any unwanted clothes in a good condition to the campaign and then a rebate is offered to the school in the form of Makro vouchers and indigenous trees. The clothes are then sorted, baled and sold on to the “clothes-preneurs”, the non-saleable items are then donated to charity.There are now 40 schools participating in the Umgungundlovu and eThekwini regions. The project is now servicing clothes-preneurs in Pinetown, Pietermaritzburg, St Lucia, Kwajobe and Tembe areas through the Khuthaza networks.The clothes that initially were viewed as waste are now being reused and sold, thus minimising the amount of waste that is dumped in communities.Green DesksGreen Desks was started half way through 2016. It offers a creative solution to deal with previously unrecyclable waste and creates an end product for which there is a real and desperate need, namely school desks. During 2016 a mixture of 60% unrecyclable waste and 40% HD plastic have been ground and extruded into planks for school desks. Every school desk removed 40kg of waste from the waste stream and resulted in a desk for a pupil without one. On the one hand reducing waste, on the other reducing the 300 000 school-desk shortage. Several Pietermaritzburg schools have enjoyed the Green Desks - Chistlehurst, Insika Secondary, Fezokuhle, Heritage Academy, to name a few. To get your school involved in the Green Desks programme email HannoL@wildlands.co.za Ubuntu Earth Ambassadors Ubuntu Earth focuses on developing green leaders, raising awareness, stimulating citizenship and connecting people to their natural environments and each other, to foster a long-term commitment to sustainability and the capacity to lead us into a sustainable future. The Ubuntu Earth Ambassadors project inspires communities to be active citizens by getting involved in solving their own environmental challenges. This project raises awareness through celebrating environmental calendar days at community level. Ubuntu Earth Ambassadors work for Wildlands at community level across KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Eastern and Western Cape. These ambassadors have been trained to activate communities by organising and facilitating awareness activities, including community action such as cleaning up, planting trees, removing alien plants and river water testing. As of February interested people can also volunteer to become ambassadors and organise awareness or citizen days. The message of citizen days is to inspire people to take action, and one of those messages is to reduce, reuse and recycle.