Warriors stand against plastic

2019-07-30 06:00
Jessica Sjouerman, Matthew Healey, Matthew Furlonger and Kersti de Beer. PHOTOS: Sean Furlonger

Jessica Sjouerman, Matthew Healey, Matthew Furlonger and Kersti de Beer. PHOTOS: Sean Furlonger

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Warrior Youth says in a study published in the journal Science in 2015, South Africa is ranked 11th out of 192 coastal countries for mismanagement of plastic waste, with 56% of it potentially becoming litter.

They add the country produces 1.518t of its own plastic, of which only 21% is recycled and a staggering 90 000 - 250 000t of plastic will find its way into the ocean from the coastline alone. The country is also the third-highest producer of waste per person with 2kg per day. Armed with this information, Warrior Youth realised that “we can’t recycle our way out of this crisis”.

Warrior Youth is a youth empowerment and activist organisation in its infancy, started by Matthew Furlonger and Jessica Sjouerman.

Through their Trash Mob initiative, they want to bring further attention to the careless and excessive consumption of plastics with little regard for the consequences, which includes pollution and toxicity of both people and environments. “Our focus is on the unnecessary use of single-use plastics in South Africa and its downstream mismanagement as waste,” says Sjouerman.

On Saturday 13 July, a small group of Warrior Youths stood outside one of the leading retailers at Constantia Village inviting shoppers leaving the store to undress their food and ditch all the unnecessary single-use plastic into a trolley. At the end of the activation, they returned the plastic-filled trolley to the store.

Furlonger says the message was two-fold. “For us shoppers to become acutely aware of how much single-use plastic we are buying, the role we are playing in and our contribution to this global crisis and to begin making more responsible purchasing decisions; and to the supermarkets – we hear your commitments to adapt and we understand certain things cannot be changed overnight, but we’re holding you accountable for the role you play in this crisis and the responsibility you have to your shoppers and their futures to mitigate that. Enough is enough,” he says.Residents have power

They aim to awaken South Africans to the “Modern Day Warrior” within and inspire them to wield the power they hold to affect positive change in their communities.

“We further aim to unite this tribe of fired-up, socially and environmentally conscious warriors and develop projects with them that serve to improve the quality of life in the communities they live in.

“A group exists who are restless, hungry for change, angry, underserved and this is translating into destructive, violent and anti-social behaviour.

“We are creating a platform that gives them something to be hopeful for and to channel that fight into something that breathes new life into them.

“We are all responsible for the role we play in how we shape society and as soon as we accept that, there’s an incredible change that happens within us. It brings a whole new quality of life and sense of meaning to it,” says Sjouerman.

According to them, SA is not winning the war against plastic.

“We are currently not doing enough but with organic and compostable plastic alternatives becoming increasingly available and affordable; more people becoming aware of their personal plastic footprint, how to minimise it and taking pride in their environment; businesses being held more and more accountable for their waste production and management; the job creation opportunities arising as a result of innovation to beat this crisis and the increase in educational campaigns in poorly served communities by government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) there is hope. South Africans are a great people and we are capable of great change,” he concludes V For more information visit www.warrioryouth.org or call 078 377 8325.

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