On Friday, 18 July – International Mandela Day – citizens across the world will be extending their goodwill to act on Nelson Mandela’s exhortation to “serve every day”. The international campaign to change the world for the better asks individuals and organisations to devote 67 minutes – in honour of Madiba’s 67 years fighting for liberation – of their time to meeting the needs of others.
This year, President Jacob Zuma has, as part of the government’s initiative to #CleanUpSA for Mandela Day, challenged South Africans to work towards cleaning and preserving their environments.
While it is difficult for ordinary South Africans to tackle air and water pollution, smaller everyday acts are well within our capabilities; one such activity is recycling.
Recycling for the economy
Of the total waste generated in South Africa annually, just 10% is recycled, yet a whopping 65% of that waste is recyclable. Recycling saves energy; for example recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 26.498 litres of water, 2.3m3 of landfill space, 238.48 litres of oil, and 4000 kilowatt hours of electricity.
Recycling also helps boost the economy by producing jobs; in 2011 waste management contributed over R2.4-billion of South Africa’s gross domestic product, while in 2010, nearly more than 1.25 million tons of plastic were recycled, providing employment for nearly 40 000 people.
Recycling has numerous other benefits, one of which is immediately visible; reducing unsightly litter such as plastic bags and old newspapers. Simply picking up and disposing correctly of litter makes an immediate difference to our environment.
Organisations around South Africa have already answered the President’s call to help clean up South Africa; Miller Matola – CEO of Brand South Africa is delighted with initiatives that have already kick-started around the country in anticipation of International Mandela Day. He says, “All South Africans – young and old, tall and short and black and white alike are called to rise beyond their political, religious or any other inhibitive posture and dedicate 67 minutes to honour the father of our democracy. This is a call that is about small deeds that make a huge difference while encouraging our people to extend their good habits to their external environment.
“Greening our environment should not only be about planting trees but also about raising the consciousness of society on the impact of good habits. I choose to remember Madiba this way and I urge my fellow citizens to rise up to change the media headlines to reflect the better South Africa we live in.”
This Mandela Day, Brand South Africa joins the international community and all South Africans as we move forward to make the world a cleaner, better place for all.