EARTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Compiled by Robyn, South
Africa ~ © April 2005
Earth Day is celebrated on April
22nd every year and calls our attention to the care of our precious Earth. What can you learn about the earth by looking at a globe? The earth consists of both land and
water. Mostly water. The land is divided into landmasses called
continents. Who or what lives on the
earth? People, animals, fish, plants,
trees etc. What do you think these
things need to live? Warmth, water,
air, light, food etc. The Earth
provides the natural resources that we need.
Man has interfered with these resources and that has caused many
problems with the environment for example acid rain, global warming, the ozone
layer, endangered species, pollution and more.
World Environment Day is celebrated on June 5 every year. The environment is all of the world we live in. It includes the air we breathe, the water we drink, the countryside around us and the cities where we live. We live in a beautiful world but our world is in trouble and unless we change our lives it won’t be beautiful forever. These problems are caused mainly by pollution, waste products, litter, and wasting water and energy. We cannot change everything we buy, or stop using petrol, but we can think about the choices we make and their effects on the environment and just start by changing the small things. If everyone helps in a small way, we can solve the problems that threaten our world. A clean environment is good for everyone and will make life better for all including plants and animals.
It is estimated that the total
amount of domestic urban waste in South Africa is around 15 million tons a
year! This is usually taken away by refuse trucks
and dumped in large spaces called land fill sites and buried. This is unsightly and often unhygienic. It also uses land that could be put to
better use. A large percentage of this
waste could be reused or recycled. By doing this we can protect our resources,
save energy, reduce pollution and reuse waste materials to create new useful
The Professor’s Garden by Ben Maclennan ISBN:0864862571 (available from )
Professor called his compost heap his creepy crawly factory, and said that when
old things died they helped new things grow. In his overgrown garden, he and
his young neighbour, Katie, collect fruit, tend the vegetables and share thoughts
in the shade of the old plum tree. Just before he dies, the Professor gives
Katie a special gift to help her to remember their time together, and to
understand the natural cycles of life and death and renewal. Katie’s friendship
with her eccentric old neighbour is delightfully rich and companionable,
captured here both in the warmth of the text and in the subtly delicate
modern parable about a brother and sister who spend their day playing on the
beach by a rock pool. They create their own tiny marine world in a bucket and,
with its wildlife, shells, oil and even a tin can, it is a microcosm of the
larger world outside. With a series of stunning watercolours, Michael Foreman
makes clear his underlying concern about pollution within the environment,
particularly on the seashore. The book's impact derives not only from Foreman's
masterly skill as an artist, but also from the strength of his commitment to
fable about the dangers of destroying our forests and woodlands, the
long-suffering Lorax struggles to save all the Truffula Trees from the wicked
Once-ler's axe. In this cautionary tale of greed
and environmental destruction, the lovable Lorax tries to save the Truffula
Forest and its inhabitants from disaster at the hands of the cantankerous
about a friendship--a special friendship between children and the Earth.
Inspired by hundreds of letters from schoolchildren, Frank Asch has created an
environmental tale that encourages readers to observe the world around them and
to forge their own friendships with the Earth.
Litter is the solid waste or rubbish that we see lying around and is usually created by people. Litter can be hazardous to our health and it can harm people, plants, animals and the environment. Where should litter go – IN THE BIN! If you observe litter being discarded from a vehicle, take down the registration and other relevant details (place & time etc) and write or phone it through to KDBA (Keep Durban Beautiful Anti-Littering Awareness) at 031 303 1665. The Police will be in contact with the transgressor (friendly warning only the first time!). This is the KDBA's 'Tag-a-Motorist' project. Other cities may have a similar policy, contact your local municipality to find out. What else can you do? Get a group together and go and pick up some litter!
What happens to the waste or rubbish at the
moment? It is usually removed by refuse
removal trucks once a week and taken to the municipal rubbish dump where it is
buried. If possible visit one of these sites
and show children what happens to the rubbish.
Once you really think about this, you will find it more difficult to
just throw things away without thinking about it. Did you know that plastic lasts for about 30 years, aluminium up
to 100 years and glass lasts even longer.
We have too much waste on planet earth. This creates all kinds of problems. What is the solution? The three R’s! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
REDUCE means to make less rubbish. How can I reduce?
goods in bulk or goods with less packaging.
products e.g. plastic-wrapped vegetables on polystyrene trays.
basket or bag to put your shopping in or re-useable plastic bags, to the
supermarket to avoid using new plastic shopping bags each time.
or reusable containers.
Buy refills and concentrates - these usually involve less packaging.
articles that will last, rather than products that will soon need replacing.
with recycled content (this information is usually on the label), or that can
be easily recycled.
produce - it requires less packaging to keep fresh (and less energy for
Try to buy only
what you need, and consider cutting down on unnecessary luxuries! Each item
purchased undergoes some form of processing, transportation and packaging - all
of which use resources and produce waste.
heavily processed products (e.g. fresh fruit instead of canned). These have
used up fewer resources and produced less waste.
§ Use rechargeable
batteries where possible, cloth dishtowels and napkins instead of paper ones,
and refillable ink pens. Avoid disposable plates, cups and cutlery.
Store food in the fridge in re-useable, airtight containers, rather than
plastic cling film, tinfoil or plastic bags.
§ In the office and
at school, photocopy on both sides of the paper.
This is the most important step - if we do
it well there will be less to re-use and recycle.
REUSE means to use things over again. How can I reuse?
things with your waste. Crafts, pot
plant holders, vases etc. Reuse things
around the house as many times as you can. If you have no further use for it, find someone who does. ONE PERSON'S
TRASH IS ANOTHER PERSON'S TREASURE.
welcome donations of unwanted gifts, clothes, furniture, toys and books.
items, or pay someone to repair them, rather than just discarding them.
Make your own
gifts and gift wrap instead of always buying new items.
bottles with deposits to shops for reuse.
§ Wash and dry
plastic bags for re-use.
§ Staple together
office paper that has only been written on one side, for scrap paper.
§ Nursery schools
make good use of the inside core of toilet rolls and paper towels, egg boxes,
cereal boxes and jam jars.
RECYCLE - If a product cannot be re-used, then
recycle it. Recycle means
to change the item into something else so that the material can be used
again. We can recycle four kinds of
inorganic materials – glass, paper, plastic and metal. How can I recycle?
big boxes or bins for all four types of material and start collecting items for
recycling. Find out where there are
recycling grounds or bins or containers near you where you can take them to be
recycled. Glass is 100%
recyclable - make use of bottle banks.
compost heap at home for your organic waste. Organic kitchen and garden waste can be added to the compost heap, or
used to feed pets or birds.
Used motor oil
can be handed in for recycling at your local garage.
If you feel you don't
have the time or inclination to do your own recycling, arrange to give your
recyclable waste to one of the many informal waste collectors who depend on
recycling for their livelihood.
§ To find out what
recycling programmes operate in your area, contact either the local branch of
Keep South Africa Beautiful, your City Cleansing Branch or the Wildlife
Society. There are many recycling programmes operating nationwide - see
Recyclable-an item which can be crushed or melted down or otherwise used as a new item instead of being thrown away.
To make paper, trees have to be cut down and
transported to a factory where machines break them up and turn them into
paper. Trees take a long time to grow
and on average, each of us uses up about 2 trees of paper per year. Work out how many trees your family uses per
year. It takes 15 litres of water to
make 50g of paper. The paper making
process creates bad water pollution. To
save trees and water, we can reuse and recycle paper. Contact Sappi WOW 0800
2213309 to find out where you can recycle paper in your area.
Where does paper come from? What do you think will happen if we just
keep cutting down all the trees? How
can we help? By reusing/recycling our
paper. Set aside a suitable collection
container in your house and label it recyclable paper. Find out where you can drop it off. Ensure paper you put into the
banks is clean - and read the instructions on the sides of the banks to find
out what type of paper is accepted or phone any of the paper recyclers for
Beverage cans now contribute less
than 1% of litter, thanks to the highly successful efforts of Collect-a-Can in
South Africa. There was a recovery rate
of 66% in 2003 making
the can the most successfully recycled primary packaging in SA and SA ranking
among the top six countries worldwide in terms of recovery rates.
All food tins and cooldrink cans are made from
metal, which has to be dug up from the earth.
Although most cans will rust and break down, aluminium (cooldrink) cans
last almost indefinitely. All steel is
recyclable. Aluminium cans and tin
(steel) cans need to be separated. You
can tell the difference between tin and aluminium cans by using a magnet. The magnet will not stick to the
aluminium! Tinfoil is made of aluminium
so that it won’t rust. Sort your metal.
It is essential that you at least collect ALL aluminium cans and drop them off
at your nearest drop off point when you can.
Wash and crush
cans first before putting them in collection containers. For information on where you can drop off your cans, phone COLLECT-A-CAN
Roughly 15% of all South African glass is
currently being recycled (2005). Some
glass bottles are returnable for refunds.
Glass is 100% recyclable. Some
bottles are washed for re-use, while other glass is crushed and melted and
remoulded. Sorting – Glass needs to be
sorted before recycling. You can use
this as an opportunity for a sorting task.
Sort your bottles into bottles which can be sold, and different coloured
glass. Glass needs to be cleaned and
any metal lids, caps or labels need to be removed.
Lightbulbs, wire reinforced glass, ceramics,
laboratory glass, crystal & opaque drinking glasses, mirrors, windshields,
window glass and heat resistant ovenware cannot be recycled. To find out where your nearest bottle banks
or drop of points are, contact Consol on (011) 8740000. Be careful with glass as broken glass can cut
A lot of our plastic waste can either be reused
or recycled but it needs to be sorted carefully. Hard plastic like cooldrink bottles can be made into rulers and
maths sets. Soft plastic is made into
black bags, agricultural piping, flower pots, milk crates and vehicle floor
mats. Polywood (plastic wood) is a
unique South African product which is made from 100% recycled plastic materials
and is used to manufacture park benches, jetties and wharfs, fence posts and
plant holders. Polycrate is used to
make municipal refuse bins, builders buckets and stacking containers. SAPR recovers PET soft drink bottles and
converts the polyester fibre into pillows, duvets and clothing! All plastic products are marked with a
symbol underneath. These codes tell us
what kind of plastic it is. Some hard
plastic containers like those used for some sunflower oils and vinegars cannot
be recycled locally as they contain PVC.
These are usually marked with the number 3 symbol underneath. Recyclable plastics include coke bottles,
milk bottles, household cleaning bottles, plastic film, soft packaging, plastic
crates, Styrofoam cups and yoghurt containers.
To recycle plastic separate out PVC plastics. Make sure the other plastic containers are clean. Contact your local waste centre to see where
you can take plastic to be recycled in your area.
Look at a globe. Draw or paint an earth.
Discuss what lives on the earth, draw these things. Cut them out from a magazine and stick these
around your earth. We found fish,
birds, animals, people, flowers, trees, etc.
Scratch Art Earth
Colour in a circle with blue and green wax
crayons. With a sharp object such as a
coin, scratch out shapes of different things that live on the earth…fish,
flowers, trees, people, birds, any animals etc. This makes a nice art project.
You can write things around your earth like… ‘We need to look after our
precious earth.’ etc.
Make a paper plate earth. Paint the circles blue. When dry, paint the continents green and brown. Draw smiley face on them. Write sentences on paper that would make the earth happy eg. Don't litter, Plant flowers, Don't cut down trees etc.
Cut out and make a large paper earth. Write sentences about the earth and stick
them up. Cut out pictures of different
things that live on the earth like people, animals, plants, trees, fish,
Make an earth day pendant from Enchanted
Show children what the recycling logo looks
like. Collect some examples of
packaging items that show the recycling logo and some that don’t. What does this mean? Are the other items recyclable?
Go through magazines and pamphlets and find
pictures of things you can reuse or recycle.
Make a collage of things you can reuse around the house and a picture
with sections for the five things you can recycle. Label your picture ‘I Can Help’
Collect an assortment of cleaned waste –
samples of different materials eg clothes, hard and soft plastics, leather,
paper, cardboard, apple core etc. For
each product ask – is this article a waste product or not….what can we do with
it…can it be reused….can it be recycled? etc. Try and make something out of all
the items. Be creative.
Make things from rubbish. Reuse toilet rolls, cereal boxes, toothpaste
boxes, tins etc. to make useful things for around the house. Here are some ideas…
carton for a garden birdfeeder.
bottles for flower vases.
washed and covered for pen holders.
Remember – all items taken for recycling must
be washed beforehand.
Collect milk top lids and other lids. Give items like these to a local preschool
Trees – Make a collection of bark patterns by going
to your local botanical gardens and making bark rubbings of some of the
trees. Write the name of the tree
beside the rubbing.
Make your own paper as per instructions below
and add some flower seeds to it.
Plant a tree!
Grow an avocado seed…
Wash an avocado seed. Stick 3 toothpicks in the sides of the seed,
and suspend it broad end down in a glass of water. The water should just cover the bottom of the seed. Place the glass in a warm location, out of
direct sunlight. Change the water
frequently and be patient... it may take a month or more to sprout. Once your avocado has leaves, plant it in a
large pot with the seed half exposed.
Allow it to dry out between waterings.
Avocados require very well drained soil, full sun, and very little
pruning...cut back tall upright shoots to control height. Replant outside when it gets too big for
Keep Durban Beautiful (031) 376243
Keep Johannesburg Beautiful (011) 3395111
Sappi WOW (War on Waste) 0800 2213309
The Wildlife Society (011) 4821670 to get the
number for your area.
Consol’s Glass Recycling Department on (011)
Sappi Environmental Toll free no. 0800 11 48 41
Sappi Waste - Ph: 0800 221 330
Mondi Recycling tollfree 0800 022112 - Offer a
range of free services including Paper Pick-Up, Paperbanks and Confidential
Shredding Services. Support fundraising by collecting waste paper in bulk.
Natal Recycling Forum. The Secretary, PO Box 1535,
Durban, 4000. Tel. 031-376 243.
National Coordinating Committee for Recycling. P.O.
Box 1378, Pinegowrie, 2123. Tel. 011-7891101.
Nampak Recycling - Ph: 0800 018 818
Glass Recycling Association - Ph: (011) 827 4311
Collect - A - Can - Ph: 0800 111 232
ACRA (Aluminium Cans) - Ph: (011) 454 1408
OILKOL (used motor oil) - Ph: (011) 762 5506
Recycling Plastics - Ph: (011) 828 0720
Plastics Federation of SA - Ph: (011) 314 4021
Green Clippings – is a free weekly digest of environmental news published by the African Health & Development Organisation
EnviroKids Magazine is a fun 32-page colourful magazine produced
by WESSA for its junior members up to age 14 years. Each issue of EnviroKids has a different theme and is filled with
easy-to-read articles and bright illustrations or photos. To obtain a copy contact your local Wildlife
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