Did you know that South Africa uses 30kg – 50kg of plastic per person every year? If you consider that our current population size is over 58 million, we’re looking at over 1.7 billion kilograms of waste every year!
July is the month for some seriously green living. It’s Plastic Free Month, and it’s all about raising awareness of the harmful impact of plastics on our natural environment, and taking a stand to protect Mother Earth – which is also how we take care of ourselves, our children, and future generations. This global movement was started by the Plastic Free Foundation Ltd. Established in 2017. The Plastic Free Foundation pushed Plastic Free July as one of their key initiatives in the wider dream of working towards a world completely free of plastic.
As a country we really need to pull up our socks when it comes to our recycling efforts if we’re going to do our part. We only recycle 16% of the plastics we use in this country – an abysmal statistic.
When you consider that a country like Tanzania has outright banned the manufacture, sale or use of plastic bags, it really brings into focus just how behind the curve we are, when it comes to environmental initiatives and preserving the world around us for future generations.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways for each South African to make a difference – and it starts with you!
At PPS Short-Term Insurance, we are using plastic free month as an excuse to start encouraging our clients and the public at large to engage in conservational behaviours and habits. We’ll be offering tips and tricks for ‘green’ initiatives that you might want to get involved in. And we’ll be cleaning up our own act at our offices around the country. Mother Earth, after all, is not in the best shape she’s ever been in, and it’s the duty and responsibility of every single one of us to help her heal.
Global warming is an aspect of climate change that results in a general increase in average temperatures on Earth. Human activity contributes to this shift as we produce what’s called “greenhouse gases” – gases that absorb and emit radiant energy in the thermal infrared range. When these kinds of gases get trapped by our atmosphere, they heat the planet’s surface because they radiate energy in all directions. This process is called the “greenhouse effect” and the problem is that our planet is warming up too fast for our ecosystem to adapt to it.
The effects are farther-reaching than you would think. Global warming affects all aspects of the environment and gives rise to significant social challenges as a by-product. The recent natural disasters in South Africa have vividly brought this point home. Droughts, intense storms, and raging wildfires harm not only our wildlife and the natural cycles that keep habitats functional, but destroy homes, cars, and towns while leaving the country with scores of people in need of emergency care and shelter.
The silver lining of this rather harsh wake-up call is that human activities are a major contributor, which means that we have the power to create change. An excellent starting point is recycling because everyone can do their part to contribute and, at the moment, it’s also the most effective way of combating climate change. Reducing deforestation through the re-use of paper drastically cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions, and recycling also lessens the trash that goes to landfills – one of the main culprits in releasing those harmful gases. It also means that less energy is consumed to manufacture even more plastics.
First thing in the morning you can get off to a good start by choosing to avoid plastic beverage cups. Rather take your reusable thermos to the coffee shop or office and refill as necessary! Or go shopping with your own permanent shopping bags rather than paying for plastic versions that’ll end up in landfills. And during hot weather, make sure to carry a water bottle around with you so that you don’t keep buying plastic bottles.
Straws may seem harmless because they’re made of so little plastic, but just take a moment to think about how often people have drinks in bars and restaurants on a daily basis, and you’ll realise that avoiding them makes a big difference. Globally, 1 000 000 000 straws are used and thrown out daily.
But, if you’re all for the straw, then rather go to places that use cardboard straws or keep a permanent steel or bamboo straws in your handbag just in case.
In South Africa, more and more grocery stores have called on you to bring your own packaging material. That’s right, all the produce is unwrapped and completely free of plastic! These shops are called “Zero Waste” stores and they will temper your temptation to reach for packaged goods when it can be avoided. It’s not as extreme as Tanzania’s solution, but it’s a start.
At home, you can easily get going just by sorting your waste into separate recycling bins. This is a pro-active way of ensuring that the recyclables actually do get recycled because they are taken to the right location for processing. Also get your co-workers involved and launch an initiative to set up the proper bins in your office.
It’s these small daily habits that will inevitably have a snowball effect. By regularly setting an example, more and more people will jump on board and, before you know it, we’re all part of a green movement that just keeps growing.
At PPS Short-Term Insurance, our employees are participating in Plastic Free Month by taking a hands-on approach to cutting down on their consumption of single-use plastics. Our promise to Mother Earth is to:
We are leading the way towards healthier habits for ourselves and the planet that supports us. You can easily join us and contribute to a new a generation of recycling rangers. So, why don’t you?
PPS STI is a licensed Financial Services Provider FSP 46274.
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