Thanks to Sunshine Cleaning, the Bluedowns community were able to come together and clear their canal banks of 375kgs of plastic waste.
Cape Town, South Africa (30 July 2020) – Santie Gouws and Ursula van Eck co-founded Sunshine Cleaning to address a problem they have seen in Cape Town’s Bluedowns Canal and River system. Their hope is to see plastic-free rivers and oceans in South Africa.
“As co-founders and owners of Sunshine Cleaning our aim is to address plastic pollution within neighbourhoods adjacent to rivers and canals, to prevent such plastic from entering our river systems and ultimately reaching the ocean, where it harms marine, bird and aquatic life. Ultimately, we would like to see these canals and riverbanks restored and rejuvenated for the enjoyment of the communities who live there.
Our research led us to the Bluedowns canal and river system, right under our noses in the City of Cape Town, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The Ocean Cleanup (A Netherlands based NPO, who design and develop technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic) identified this particular canal and river system as being amongst the top 1000 most severely plastic polluted river systems on the planet.”
With a determination to do some good, the pair decided to do something for Mandela Day which is in the same month as Plastic Free July.
“2 weeks into our COVID 19 lockdown we contacted EJ of Enviroserv, a local waste management company, with whom Santie had met at a Waste Management Seminar earlier in the year. EJ’s positive open engagement with us and pro-active attitude quickly resulted in a plan of action for a clean-up and waste assessment of the Bluedowns canal banks, set for 18 July coincidentally falling during Plastic Free July, as well as on the 10th anniversary of Mandela Day.
We went on to engage with City of Cape Town to obtain the necessary permissions, and the Bluedowns community, both to create awareness as well as to ensure their buy-in, involvement and blessing for the clean-up. Notwithstanding their challenges of trying to feed hundreds of people, arising as a result of the Covid crisis, the Bluedowns Community Women Action group and local Ward Councillor Jerome Fitz received us with open arms and gave us their full commitment and support without hesitation.
Following a week of some of the most extreme Cape winter weather, we were blessed on the day with the most spectacular Cape Town winter’s day that one could wish for – brilliant sunshine and blue sky, some snow still visible on the mountains in the far distance. Masked, sanitized and keeping necessary ‘social distancing’ 28 volunteers from Enviroserv, Bluedowns Community Women Action, the Neighbourhood Watch (the area being well known for gang activities), the ward counsellor and ourselves collected 375kg of plastic waste from the banks of the Bluedowns Canal that morning.”
Not only did the community clear out all the plastic waste, but others also ensured everyone was fed and kept warm during the day.
“The Community Women Action ladies supplied piping hot coffee and sandwiches, even the Neighbourhood Watch joined in picking up plastic whilst ensuring our safety. We now await the results of the sorting and assessment of the waste from Enviroserv who also generously provided bags, gloves and masks on the day which will inform our next steps on this journey.”
As Nelson Mandela rightly said, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’