On the 13th of August, Pristine Earth Collective conducted our first community clean up with 40 passionate youths in the Gugulethu township, who expressed concern about waste piling up on the curbside near one of the main soup kitchens. Once they were divided into teams, they got stuck into clearing and packing the waste under the supervision of community leaders and one of our Directors, George van der Schyff. The waste included not only plastic but organic and building materials too, again the result of illegal dumping. 

Within 90 minutes we had filled up 112 solid waste bags (over 300kg). The children were then treated to lunch at Gogo’s Kitchen. 

With insights from the past 2 events with the Gugulethu community, we are working to identify key youth environmental champions/stewards within the community. Our hope is that they will take on a sense of ownership of their section of the township and be incentivised for doing so through experiences and materials. This will impact the behaviour of adults and neighbours leading to a more conscious community. 

By working consistently with one community and group of youths we aim to foster a lasting impact going forward as we work to scale this model to other underserved areas within Cape Town in due course. A key driver of this is the broken window effect, once there is waste dumped in a public space it attracts more waste and similar careless behaviour. Conversely, a clean area encourages considerate behaviour and encourages endeavours to keep the area clean.

With the support of the city and their relevant solid waste departments, we hope to drive change from within and especially through the future generations.

Images credit: Mark van Wijk and George van der Schyff