Waste can stop with you

Ella Bella, Director of Miss Earth South Africa, is showing how the organisation is bringing a new meaning to beauty with a purpose. She shares how Miss Earth South Africa has taken the initiative to drive awareness around recycling and the value that can be found just by looking at waste differently.

Miss Earth South Africa is a leadership programme that aims to empower young South African women with the knowledge and platform to make a difference. The programme helps to create an awareness of sustainable development and preservation of environmental resources.

The #WasteStopsWithMe campaign was inspired by the fact that South Africans are unaware of the huge challenge of waste. As soon as we throw waste in the bin, we forget about it and it becomes someone else’s problem; however, the reality is that by 2020 South Africa’s landfills will be depleted and we will have to find new ways of disposing of the waste. Recycling is one of these ways. With statistics from the Department of Environmental Affairs showing that the average person produces between 1.2 – 1.8kg of waste daily, we saw the need to start a mass recycling campaign and awareness initiative to get people involved, educated and to start changing their behaviour when it comes to what they see as waste. This campaign was centred on encouraging residents and schools to get actively involved in cleaning their communities and considering new possibilities for waste.

Social media platforms have enabled people from all over to receive information on the next clean-up, how they can join in and help pick up the litter, and how to handle recyclables in their own communities. We believe the more voices we have spreading the message of #WasteStopsWithMe, the more our communities will hear about it and get involved. It is also encouraging to see companies and organisations like REDISA, PIKITUP, Tsogo Sun, Eco-Monkey and even Plastics SA working with us to spread the message of looking at waste differently. Through collaboration the message is stronger and people are starting to realise that there are different opportunities and options to dealing with waste, besides dumping in landfills.

As an organisation we have seen that waste in South Africa is perceived as rubbish and worthless; however, there are people showing that there is value in waste. We have also realised that recycling is misunderstood and is seen as a role only for informal pickers and not for the elite of society. We can all recycle and it doesn’t cost anything to be responsible for your waste. We all need to get involved to help one another, encourage and gain momentum to reduce, reuse, recycle and re-think about waste – turning waste into worth.

To learn more about Miss Earth South Africa visit: www.missearthsa.co.za