Residents of Nelson Mandela Bay, who have a keen interest in the environment and keeping their communities clean, now have the opportunity to “adopt” any area across the metro and keep it clean in order to prevent waste from entering the ocean.
The initiative, called Operation Clean Spot (OCS), is a new project being piloted by the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) in the Nelson Mandela Bay area and has been running for nearly six months, having been launched in April this year.
With this project, residents are encouraged to take ownership of any spot in the metro by “adopting” it, thereby being responsible for cleaning that particular spot. The clean-up of spots is entirely up to the adopter, who can decide how often to clean and how much time they would like to spend cleaning.
The project is open to everyone, including individuals, families, community groups, schools, organisations and businesses.
According to Operation Clean Spot researcher, Tayla Gifford, the project is meant to be fun and should easily fit into the adopter’s lifestyle.
“Some adopters clean their spots every month, every three months, or twice a year.
“Every clean-up, no matter how often or how much time is spent, makes a difference. In addition to this, should any schools or organisations wish to partner with SST, the OCS team can help arrange a clean-up, bringing along resources such as reusable gloves, refuse bags and more,” she explained.
She added that this is a citizen-science project, focused on achieving a cleaner environment, but is also meant to be fun.
“Spots can definitely be adopted by an individual, or in larger groups; it’s entirely up to the adopter and of course, with COVID-19 regulations in mind.
“ It’s a great opportunity to spend some time in the sunlight and fresh air with family, friends or work colleagues and chatting while striving to create a clean, flourishing environment.”
Gifford mentioned that the idea for the project stems from working towards clean, healthy oceans.
“There is an important need to tackle waste on land, where most waste, roughly 80% of it, is generated, to prevent it from entering our oceans in the first place.
“However, we realise that reducing litter on land, and ensuring that waste is better managed, is too big a task for just one individual or organisation to undertake and achieve, and so we have broken the task up into smaller, bite-size pieces, so that everyone can take part,” Gifford explained.
“By adopting a spot, the adopter pledges to care for it long-term by cleaning it of litter as often as they like, and so it remains their adopted spot. By committing to cleaning the same spot, you are able to see the difference over time, which can be very rewarding.
“However, all clean-up efforts make a difference and so once-off clean-ups, for those who would like a change of scenery by cleaning a different spot each time, or for those visiting the metro who wish to play their part, are also great and add to our map.”
Gifford added that a map was available on the Sustainable Seas Trust website, where potential adopters could look for a spot to adopt.
There is also an online form that needs to be completed in order to finalise the adoption. After the clean-up, another online form should be completed in order for the clean-up to be submitted to their database and added to the map.
Spots on the map are shown in different colours depending on how clean they are; red is a dirty spot, yellow is a slightly cleaner spot and green is a completely clean spot.
“Overall, the project is an easy, accessible way for individuals to take ownership of the state of their community and neighbourhood, and actively engage in moving towards a cleaner South Africa, and, ultimately, Africa.
“We are striving to raise awareness about the value of a clean environment, the fact that our landfills are rapidly filling up and we need to try to send less to landfill, encouraging reducing, reusing, and recycling.
In addition to the map of clean spots in Nelson Mandela Bay, SST also has a great map of drop-off sites for recyclable materials in Nelson Mandela Bay and beyond,” she said.
“We believe that Operation Clean Spot is an exciting project for the metro and benefits everyone who lives, works, and plays here.
“A clean city supports our health – both mental and physical – assisting in driving social change and more. By joining, we also prevent litter on land from entering our rivers and oceans.”
Those interested in becoming adopters, can visit the following website for more information: www.sst.org.za.