“I don’t believe that the solutions in society will come from the left or the right or the north or the south. They will come from islands within those organizations, islands of people with integrity who want to do something.”

Karl-Henrik Robert – Founder of The Natural Step

This is part of what we hope our impact is at Earthchild Project – we hope that we are making an island of people who will grow up and start demanding change in their society, and in their world. By educating our earthchildren – our “eco-warriors” – in our schools on the environment and their impact upon it, we hope that this future generation will grow up and contribute to a global attitude of preserving our planet. We hope these children will grow up with a fire in their belly for environmental justice – especially since Africa is one of the most negatively affected continents when it comes to waste.

It’s both a continental and global problem in Africa. While much of the developing world lacks the resources and policy when it comes to recycling and waste-management, it is also a matter of outside influence. Waste disposal is a challenge for many industrialized countries – and disturbingly, many would rather ship the waste to developing nations instead of dealing with the difficulties and cost of safe and proper waste disposal. This illegal practice has been plaguing developing countries for decades. Of the twenty countries most commonly used for illegal waste dumping, nine are in sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa unfortunately makes the list, alongside Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, and Cote D’Ivoire. Most commonly, it is e-waste (electronic waste) that is dumped, however toxic waste also happens frequently.

But alongside illegal dumping from the west, South Africa suffers from poor domestic waste management as well. According to a 2016 World Bank report, South Africa produces 54,425 tonnes of trash every day – the 15th highest rate in the world. On a per capita basis (per household), this equates to two kilograms, 38th globally. While this isn’t the worst performance, I know that we could do better. This is what we try and instill in our earthchildren through our gardening and earthworm compost farming – a genuine love and care for the planet; a consciousness of their waste; and a desire for greater change. An unexpected upside to the water crisis in Cape Town has been a renewal in the spirit of environmental protection in a lot of us. It is unfortunate that it takes a crisis for us to wake up to the realities of our environmental impact but nevertheless, this is a chance to really examine how we live – how much waste we produce in our homes, and how we tolerate outside degradation of our own country.

The name we have for our children who attend our environmental extramural is “eco-warriors.” This is what we all must become – warriors in protection of our environment. There are no humans if there is no environment. Thankfully, humans are gifted by the potential for intelligent choice and empathy. Let’s get started.