Be part of culture keeping town clean

It was not planned, but was a timely convergence of ideas, that the plastic waste collection and recycling project in Boknes was launched at the same time we asked our recent Facebook question – if readers feel enough is being done to keep our town clean.

Most respondents, being from Port Alfred, answered about Port Alfred, and feelings were mixed.

While many felt the municipality was playing its part, there were a few anecdotes to the contrary, such as the green-garbed cleaners who seem to be assigned to do coastal clean-ups but are frequently seen aimlessly walking around in a group and dragging empty refuse bags.

There was also a disturbing story about the occupants of a municipal refuse truck buying a beer from a bottle store and casually throwing rubbish out of their window.

But generally people felt Port is cleaner than other towns.

Several people suggested more bins need to be placed around town to encourage people to properly dispose of their waste, but others, like Ndlambe bylaw compliance officer Sphiwo Klaas, pointed out that more bins is not necessarily the answer. He related an anecdote that many people have experienced – of inconsiderate litterbugs throwing their refuse on the ground just a few paces away from a rubbish bin.

“Some people have made it their culture to dump illegally,” Klaas said. This goes beyond casual littering to the intentional dumping of mass waste on street verges and open plots.

Considering the breakdown and dysfunction we see in many municipalities across South Africa, we can be grateful we still get the municipal services we pay for – like regular weekly refuse collection.

The blame for most of the litter we see scattered around town – and especially concentrated in areas like the taxi rank wall on Southwell Road and along the R67 between Nemato and Thornhill – rests squarely on the people who are flagrantly tossing their refuse anywhere.

If people are not held accountable, there will be no changing their minds. The best we can do is keep our own verges clean – I often pick up empty 2L plastic bottles, sweet wrappers and assorted rubbish in my street – and join community clean-ups and initiatives like the one at Boknes.

Beyond that, we should all be involved in recycling. The eco-bricks are an excellent idea and can be put to good use for Port Alfred High School’s building project. It is amazing how much soft plastic can be shoved into a 2L bottle, and it just shows how much single-use plastic we go through.

– Jon Houzet

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