South Africa’s biggest cellular network, Vodacom has earned praise for its environmental initiative that ends on Friday. The company has embarked since December on the Vodacom Beach Clean Up campaign, which raises awareness about the effects of litter on the South African coastline.
Palesa Chabula, Executive Head of Vodacom’s Corporate Communications, said: “We are very proud to be able to enforce positive change for our environment. We are well aware that over and above cleaning beaches, we need to create awareness about the litter problem we are facing, and that is why we have been educating the cleaners so that they may also be catalysts for change”.
The beaches being cleaned are: Scottburgh, Ballito, Westbrook, Umdloti (KZN); Orient Beach, Wells Estate, Jeffrey’s Bay, Port St John’s (Eastern Cape); and Muizenberg, Mnandi, Hout Bay and Camps Bay (Western Cape).
The initiative has been widely hailed. Di Dold, the WESSA KZN Environmental coordinator, said that “the Vodacom Beach Clean Up Campaign is obviously a very positive initiative at a time of the year when our beaches are under the most strain. The partnership between the local municipal teams and the Vodacom cleaners has proven to be very effective”.
Dold also said that “it may come as a surprise to many that much of the litter on our beaches actually originates from inland, and is washed down into the ocean during the rainy season when our rivers are flowing at capacity”.
According to Dold, “what is important here is that the Vodacom campaign not only cleans the beaches but also increases awareness of the harmful effects of litter as, in this case, educating the public is key to stemming the flow of litter in our rivers and on our beaches”.
Cheryl Samantha Owen, from the Save Our Seas Foundation, commented that “today’s throw-away culture has created an obstacle course of litter in the ocean and along its beaches.
“It not only creates an eyesore on the beach for humans but at sea – out of sight and out of mind – the remnants of our rubbish are causing incalculable suffering and death to seabirds, turtles, whales and dolphins” as plastic litter “has harmful and detrimental effects on at least 267 marine species”, she explained.
Owen also added that “Vodacom’s assistance via the Beach Clean-up Campaign is a reminder to the public that if they want to help save our seas then they need to take responsibility themselves and keep South Africa’s beaches clean. Every single piece of litter has an owner and every single person can make a difference to our oceans by taking their rubbish away with them and ensuring that they dispose of it carefully”.
Calvyn Gilfellan, CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, agreed that “such initiatives create a real buzz, involving the whole community whilst generating some important awareness with regards to ecotourism”.
“We all have to play our part, albeit small, and lend our weight and time to preserve our ecosystems to leave a meaningful legacy for the next generation, as clean beaches create greater demand for sustainable tourism”, he said.
By Goodman Majola