"You can't change the world, you can't fix the whole environment but you can recycle". Patti Smith, Musician.
Miss Earth South Africa, hosted an Online Waste Forum on Friday 18th September to celebrate and create an awareness around National Recycle Week from the 14th – 19th September. “Recycling and addressing our daily waste is a very important element to being environmentally conscious,” stated the Miss Earth South Africa Director Ella Bella Leite. “As we emerge from the Covid - 19 Lockdown, it is important that we re-focus our priorities as we have forgotten about the environment and neglected our waste responsibility.”
She continued; “We need to address the reality of an ongoing problem in our society being waste. We need to address a failing economy and the impact of Climate Change and we must manage waste in a more practical and sustainable manner, which has both health and environmental consequences and long-term benefits. It is vitally important to recycle and to address the critical role that citizens can play in reducing our impact on the environment. We must bring about a greener and healthier way of life, by being conscious consumers and active citizens.”
This Waste Forum was supported by different stakeholders who put forward speakers for this webinar.Ms. Kate Stubbs from Interwaste Environmental Solutions spoke to the local level of recycling and, “How people are slowly but surely moving towards recycling and waste management as a habit not as a forced practice.” Mr Malcolm Whitehouse from AST Recycling spoke about the importance of electronic waste (eWaste) recycling for the health and wellbeing of people and planet. “So many toxins leach out into the environment and into our water table when electronics are not properly disposed of, but rather left on landfills for informal pickers to break apart.” Mr Whitehouse concluded with “we as consumers need to, for the sake of people and planet, make better decisions”.
The webinar also hosted speakers such as Ms. Magamase Mange, the National Programme Manager for the UN Environment Programme and Ms. Pavs Pillay who runs the WWF SASSI programme and Ms. Carla Breytenbach representing the Paper Manufactures Association of South Africa (PAMSA). On the recycling and waste side Ms. Annabe Pretorius represented Plastics SA, and spoke on how dependant we are on plastic and it’s uses, and asked for a sustainable approach to plastic waste.
The waste discussion has been elevated globally over the past few years because of engaged and active citizens, civil society organisations and influencers who understand the urgency of the waste crisis and are doing something about it. Being responsible means that we Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, but added to that, we must Respect our environment and Rethink our behaviour. This online engagement brought important stakeholders and thought leaders into a space to engage, discuss and unpack waste and leave feeling inspired to do better at home, work and even at university. Let us all be inspired to do better, because #WasteStopsWithME
Stakeholders included Interwaste, AST Recycling, Plastics SA, Paper Manufacturers of SA, UNEP and WWF SASSI.