The collection and recycling of plastic waste from school yards will help save marine life, says the South African Association of Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR).
Welcoming the Virtuous Circle concept of using plastic waste to make school desks, SAAMBR Conservation Strategist, Judy Mann-Lang reckons plastics are among the biggest threats to ocean life – a problem that needs to be addressed at source level.
The issue of plastics in the ocean came under the spotlight during the recent SA Longboard Surfing Championships hosted in Durban and last week’s 125 km Penguin Waddle in Cape Town.
Led by the conservation initiative, Penguin Promises, SAAMBR and the Two Oceans Aquarium, 16 conservationists walked for six days, from Gansbaai to Boulders Beach in Simonstown, raising awareness about threats to the endangered African Penguin, and encouraging people to make promises to help save the endangered species.
Penguin Promises is based on the premise that small steps taken by a lot of people will make big changes to help the environment.
“You make a promise for the penguins, you make a promise for the planet”, said SAAMBR’s Gabrielle Harris, who helped hatch the campaign.
The 2017 waddlers were joined on the last day by Ocean Watch ambassador, Diony Lalieu, who recently won Roving Reporters 2017 Soul Surfer Award at the SA Longboard Surfing Championships hosted in Durban.
“The state of the African Penguin is a benchmark of the health of our oceans today,” said Lalieu. “This is frightening considering that African penguin populations have plummeted to a mere 2,5% of their initial whopping population of 4 million in the 1900s. If we continue to abuse our sea, we can expect the entire species to be wiped out within the next 10 to 15 years,” said Lalieu.
Lalieu has also endorsed Virtuous Circle’s Green Desks project.
“This is an amazing example of a socially based recycling initiative that not only creates opportunities, but also prevents end-of life plastics from ending up in the ocean,” said Lalieu.
“Eight million tons of new plastic ends up in our oceans every year,” said Lalieu. “Turning disposable plastic into Green Desks is an incredible example which sees recycled plastic waste becoming a value driven product. It also engages communities in creating sensible solutions around a product that is a hazard to the environment.”
- Roving Reporters Ocean Watch series is supported by the Human Elephant Foundation and The Blue Fund – a joint initiative of the Grindrod Bank and Wildlands in aid of various marine conservation projects.