Teaching children about environmental conservation, one garden at a time!
The day was commemorated with the unveiling of a fruit and vegetable garden donated to the school by the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (REDISA).
Observed annually across the globe, Earth Day serves to promote environmental conservation and recycling, and encourages people to perform acts of service to the earth.
The garden, which includes 20 fruit trees, 300 types of vegetables, and numerous support species, incorporates waste materials such as cardboard, plastic and tyres, and illustrates how waste can be turned into worth to protect the earth.
REDISA is a non-profit company (NPC), and was established in 2010. It developed an Integrated Industry Waste Management Plan (IIWMP) to promote a circular economy with the tyre industry. The REDISA Plan was approved by the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2012 and the organisation has a mandate to increase awareness about environmental conservation, reduce South Africa’s carbon footprint, create business opportunities, and to implement sustainable initiatives to meet these goals.
According to REDISA, there is a lack of knowledge around the concept of a circular economy, a system whereby waste can be recycled and reintroduced into the economy. For instance, tyres can be used in gardens or to create furniture, bags and shoes, floor paving, school playgrounds and more. Through a circular economy approach, REDISA not only addresses South Africa’s environmental concerns but also creates job opportunities.
Speaking at the event, REDISA Director and Head of Corporate Social Investment, Charlie Kirk, said that it’s important to start teaching children from a young age about the importance of taking care of the environment and the consequences of not recycling waste.
“We have a moral obligation to protect the earth for the sake of future generations. We need to deal with resources and waste in different ways to before. The earth is running out of resources and if we do not act now, and start changing the mind sets of people, including children of all ages, they will inherit an earth from us that will not only be drowning in waste, it will have been depleted of the necessary resources to ensure their safe and healthy futures,” she said.
Kirk went on to explain to the children the consequences of not recycling, by using the analogy of living in a spaceship. “Imagine you lived in a spaceship where you couldn’t open any windows and doors and every time you ate or drank something you threw the waste container on the floor. Eventually the spaceship will become polluted with waste and you would not be able to live healthily in that space. This is what we’re doing to the earth, and so when you throw something away, where is ‘away’? What happens to it? The fact is that there is no ‘away’.”
Each child was provided with a REDISA story colouring-in book in their mother tongue which teaches them about the dangers of not recycling waste and how tyres can be used to create things of value. Thrilled learners also received pencil cases made from tyres that were filled with much-needed stationery.
Garden designers and creators, Guerilla House, transformed a barren piece of land into an area that will grow into an oasis for the children, where they can be taught under a canopy of trees surrounded by a variety of organic produce that will be included in their daily meals.
Guerilla House is an NPO focused on teaching disadvantaged communities about water harvesting, grey water systems and how to start food gardens in their backyards, amongst other permaculture practices. Said Guerilla House founder, Imraan Samuels, “What makes this garden sustainable is that it is designed to cope with South Africa’s water restrictions. It will be irrigated with water from a borehole and rain tank and includes wicking and sunken beds and other innovative methods of conserving water. We’ve also created a compost heap and worm farms which will naturally produce fertilizer for the garden.”
According to Priscilla Cloete, CEO of An Extra Mile, an NPO working to enrich the lives of people in Atlantis and who has been supporting REDISA with its Earth Day garden project, “Dassenberg Waldorf School was a great choice for this project as its educators integrate environmental preservation, recycling and agriculture in their classroom activities and therefore, together with their learners, are equipped to act as ambassadors for REDISA, spreading the message of turning waste into worth to other schools in our community,” she added.
Atlantis Ward Councilor, Barbara Rass, ended off the day’s proceedings with a few words: “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. The message and education that we’ve received today must be spread within our community. Many people attempt to establish food gardens in Atlantis but struggle to sustain them. Today we’ve learnt new and innovative methods of growing your own food. Thank you REDISA and to everyone involved for choosing to come to Atlantis to make a difference.”