#DontBeTrashy with CapeNature

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MAY, 2022

By Jessie Leverzencie

Treading lightly is very important to us. So at this year’s Reforest Fest, Greenpop along with CapeNature, Compost Cyclers and PETCO aimed to reduce our waste as much as possible! Our Zero Waste Festival Guide, along with CapeNature’s #DontBeTrashy campaign, helped us ensure our festival was as eco-friendly as possible. 

Positive actions for the environment have powerful ripple effects

As humans, one of the things we inevitably leave a lot of is waste. This year’s Reforest Fest took place at Bodhi Khaya Nature Retreat just outside of Gansbaai on 1-3 April 2022. Over 700 participants and a team of around 100 volunteers and Greenpop staff joined forces to get active, not anxious for the environment, as 5064 trees were planted.  A lineup of fun activities filled the time between, and at the core of it all, was a mission to unite people from all walks of life with a common goal, i.e. to help set in motion a positive change for the environment. 

#dontbetrashy

CapeNature’s #DontBeTrashy initiative educates and inspires us to live a waste-free lifestyle! Image credit: Nur Hazwani Ham 

Being waste-free is possible with the right attitude and a whole lot of recycling

The key question asked when approaching Reforest Fest 2022 was, how can we impact our environment in such a way that we leave it benefiting from our waste, by turning waste into a resource? With this question in mind, the Zero Waste Festival Guide, alongside CapeNature’s #DontBeTrashy campaign came to the forefront. Throughout the event, we aimed to be as environmentally conscious as possible, from the food we ate (which was majority plant based), to the cleaning supplies and the lights used — we aimed for Reforest Fest 2022 to be our greenest festival yet.

The Zero Waste Festival Guide outlined ways in which participants attending Reforest Fest could tread as lightly as possible while at the festival. One of the ways to do so was to make use of the recycling area, which had bins for everything from general waste, plastic, glass and tin. For smaller pieces of recycling material, the Compost Cyclers team taught participants and Reforest Fest Team members alike how to make an Ecobrick at the waste activation station. Eco bricks are plastic bottles, which get filled up with small pieces of waste plastic, and once full, are used for building! 

Participants were also encouraged to bring as little excess packaging with them as possible and to bring their own cutlery and crockery to avoid the use of disposable eating utensils and plates. Upon arrival at Reforest Fest, participants were also given some key pointers on how to be waste-free at Reforest Fest, by the Compost Cyclers team, who came donning costumes made of recyclable materials. 

#dontbetrashy

The Compost Cyclers team donned fun outfits made of recyclable materials to teach Reforest Fest participants all about how to be waste warriors.  Image credit: Nur Hazwani Ham

How did the #DontBeTrashy initiative come about?

CapeNature was an integral roleplayer in Greenpop’s goal to host a waste-free festival. We spoke to CapeNature’s, Phunyuzwa Xhegwana, about the #DontBeTrashy campaign as well as CapeNature’s role as both custodians of the Western Cape’s natural landscapes and also facilitators, creating opportunities for youth groups to get active and involved in environmental initiatives like Reforest Fest.

The #DontBeTrashy campaign was started In a bid to spread awareness and help put an end to the issue of littering in the Western Cape, with the help of businesses, NGOs, government, schools, and civic groups. CapeNature aims to not only spread awareness, but to also educate people on the severity and detrimental impact of littering on the environment.  The hope of this education is that people would be encouraged to not only change their individual behaviour, but that this change would ripple into their communities as well. 

The #DontBeTrashy campaign’s ultimate goal would be for South Africans to understand the severe impact of waste (particularly plastic) on the natural environment. Plastics never break down entirely and end up in the form of microplastics, which pollute ecosystems and end up in streams or rivers. These water sources eventually end up leading to the ocean, where they further affect our ocean ecosystems, animals and microorganisms. This is why each and every one of us, aiming to be as waste-free as possible, is so important. 

The recycling depot at Reforest Fest helped us stay conscious of treading lightly during the festival.  Image credit: Nur Hazwani Ham

CapeNature’s role in the stewardship of natural landscapes in the Western Cape

CapeNature has a long standing history of environmental and conservation work in the Western Cape. 

“CapeNature is a government entity responsible for managing and maintaining 31 nature reserves comprising of 113 individual properties totaling 659 761 ha in the Western Cape province of South Africa. These nature reserves have been grouped in 16 protected area complexes and include 6 marine protected areas.” – CapeNature

CapeNature works alongside agricultural businesses, communities, private landowners as well as other stakeholders in the Western Cape. Phunyuzwa explains that CapeNature’s aim is “to ensure biodiversity survives in a changing climate outside protected areas, with tangible benefits to the local communities and shareholders as per the Protected Area Expansion Plan. […] [CapeNature aims] to increase awareness, diversify the reach in awareness, and encourage changed behaviour to a broader audience.” 

“Besides nurturing nature, championing our unique ecosystems (such as the Cape Floristic Region), and educating visitors and local communities about how to protect our natural environment, CapeNature offers memorable, authentic eco-tourism experiences to local and international visitors,” Phunyuzwa says.

The Compost Cyclers team taught us all about how to make eco-bricks at Reforest Fest. Image: Nur Hazwani Ham

CapeNature believes in collaboration and community involvement

In honour of the #DontBeTrashy campaign, CapeNaturre also funded for 10 youth members from the local community to join us at Reforest Fest, and learn more about reforestation, sustainability, and living a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. The students joined us in getting active for the environment and got their hands dirty planting trees at Reforest Fest. They were recognisable amongst the sea of team colours on the planting field, by their blue CapeNature PETCO tee shirts, which were made entirely out recycled plastic! The youth is the future of society and Phunyuzwa explains that getting youth members involved, allows for them to offer solutions to environmental challenges. 

CapeNature emphasises getting students and members of the community alike, involved in environmental initiatives like Reforest Fest or beach clean-ups, which CapeNature officials host.  “Community members often participate in beach clean ups organised by CapeNature officials as recreational conservation efforts, while granting free access to protected areas, as mandated by the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act (57 of 2003). Alien clearing is another avenue to alleviate pressure on water sources, with a job creation element through wood harvesting projects,” explained Phunyuzwa.

#dontbetrashy

The 10 students who came along with CapeNature to Reforest Fest got their hands dirty planting trees with us and getting active, not anxious for the planet. They are photographed here, wearing PETCO T-shirts made from recycled plastic. Image credit: Ashleigh de Villiers

Change is possible if we all come together

As CapeNature demonstrates in the work that they do, change is possible if we all come together and work towards doing better for the planet. With campaigns like #DontBeTrashy, the example is set, lighting the way and showing us that being zero waste can be done. All we need in order to be successful, is the right attitude, the openness to learn and the goal to take active steps (big or small), towards being better stewards of the planet.

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Greenpop Foundation NPC is a registered non-profit organisation. Registration Number (NPO): 151-411 NPO.

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