South African Women Duo To Clean One of the World's Most Polluted Rivers
A South African women duo is fighting to solve the pollution problem in Cape Town despite not knowing how to recycle or dispose of plastic or waste. Their mission is to see rivers and oceans free of plastic.
The two incredible women, Santie Gouws and Ursula van Eck, co-founded Sunshine Cleaning to manage plastic pollution inside neighborhoods close to rivers and canals; they aim to prevent plastic from entering rivers and ending up in the world's oceans. In a recent interview they told 'The Good Things Guy, “Ultimately, we would like to see these canals and riverbanks restored and rejuvenated for the enjoyment of the communities who live there.”
After conducting research, Their main target became Blue Downs in South Africa, which has been described as one of the 1000 most polluted rivers worldwide by The Netherlands Ocean Clean Up project, they told interviewers, “Our research led us to the Blue Downs canal and river system, right under our noses in Cape Town, one of the most beautiful cities in the world,” The pair needed more information about types and volumes of plastic waste settling on canal banks to be able to estimate as to what conditions they were facing. South Africa's largest waste management company, Enviroserv stepped in to provide them the help they needed. Together they allied to come up with a sustainable solution.
“Two 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,” the company explained. “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 Blue Downs canal banks, set for 18 July—coincidentally falling during Plastic Free July, as well as on the 10th anniversary of Mandela Day.
Together, they worked with Cape Town officials as well as the Blue Downs community to secure permissions and gain buy-in, participation, and blessing to move forward with the clean-up project.“Notwithstanding their challenges of trying to feed hundreds of people, arising as a result of the Covid crisis, the Blue Downs 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,” they recalled. 28 volunteers helped collect 375 kg (826 pounds) of plastic waste on the banks of that canal that morning. The volunteers came together from Enviroserv, Blue Downs Community Women Action, and the Neighborhood Watch. “The Community Women Action ladies supplied piping hot coffee and sandwiches, and even the Neighborhood Watch joined in picking up plastic whilst ensuring our safety.”
After Enviroserv finishes the sorting and assessment of waste, Sunshine Cleaning will carry out its mission and goal to keep the local communities clean and restore nature for future generations to enjoy. As Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”