Local NPO rides the recyling wave

2016-09-06 06:00

Alocal non-profit organisation is working towards keeping beaches clean and free of harmful plastics.

African Surfriders Foundation is dedicated to the upliftment of the environment by creating awareness and initiating activities to improve the lives of communities. The Foundation is a proactive organisation committed to creating awareness and action on environmental issues surrounding water safety and community sustainability, explains the founder, Ryan Smith.

African Surfriders is funded through the sale of Smithy Surfboards. The Foundation has now created hand-drawn, bespoke decals, inspired by Nelson Mandela’s groovy shirts, to raise awareness among people who use the ocean for recreation and sporting activities, Smith explains. The proceeds from the sale of these decals are donated to the Foundation.

The Foundation has been involved in several projects in Masiphumele, such as the establishment of a refuse collection point and pool for water safety education, Muizenberg beachfront and Ocean View.

But they have even more planned for the next few years, says Smith.

Looking forwardsThe Foundation plans to roll out preschool art lessons to Ocean View and Masiphumele schools in order to encourage better fine motor skill development in young children as well as teaching kids about litter management and recycling in the process.

They also plan on installing a recycling centre in Masiphumele and Ocean View.

The Foundaiton runs an awareness campaigns on microplastics, which are planned to encourage children to collect smaller bits of plastic, and they hope to engage with manufacturers to understand their chemical waste disposal systems and assist them with environmental education support where necessary.

Clean upsThe Foundation will also be holding regular pop-up beach and river clean ups inspired by local communities, such as one recently held at Long Beach, Kommetjie.

“African Surfriders Foundation decided to launch a pop-up clean-up campaign through our Facebook page,” says Smith.

“We felt it was urgently needed to alert the locals to the state of the beach as summer is around the corner and the beach is well utilised by residents and visitors alike. When we arrived at the beach we were pleased to see that most of the larger litter had been removed by residents and that several residents were foraging the beach for smaller items and placing them into rubbish bags. Clearly the locals really care about their environment.”

Go greenA cause for concern is the increasing prevalence of microplastics in the sand on the beach, says Smith.

“These beads of plastic are ocean-eroded plastic articles (hard plastics such as cooldrink bottle tops are eroded to balls of hard plastic resembling pebbles). The danger of these microplastics is that they are ingested by birds and fish and can cause wildlife fatalities.”

The foundation will be facilitating more clean-ups in the approaching months and welcome schools and social organisations to take up the campaign to keep beaches spick and span throughout the year, Smith adds.

V Contact African Surfriders Foundation by joining their Facebook community or contact www.smithysurfboards.com or ryan@smithysurfboards.com

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