We have just spent two solid weeks working hard to clear our recycling shed where waste from 15 recycling bins on the property is taken to. The waste is generated from Lodge guests visits, the restaurant on site, our tours into Lesotho where we bring all rubbish back and from staff who live on site.
Guests are asked and staff are instructed to separate out their waste into plastic, paper and cardboard, cans, glass , food for compost and non-recyclable waste. From there we separate further;
-glass cans are sterilised and used for homemade jams,
-non-refundable glass bottles are taken to a new start up in Underberg where they are crushed and made into building bricks,
-refundable glass bottles are returned to the retailer for a deposit,
-clear PET plastic bottles and plastic HDPE no 2 are taken to the new local start up
-aluminium beverage cans are taken to the new local start up
-plastic yoghurt containers HDPE no 5 are recycled as seedling planters for our indigenous nursery
-batteries and light bulbs are taken to the local hardware store
-polystyrene from food wrapping , foil and tetrapak is collected and taken to St Johns high school in Pietermaritzburg for collection by recyclers for which the school is remunerated
– wood is taken to the local primary school Kwapitela which we have partnered with for many years providing the classrooms with fireplaces from funds donated by volunteers teaching English and
from local Sani to C bike race
-clean paper and cardboard is recycled wherever possible
-food is composted for our organic vegetables and indigenous gardens
-clothing, old furniture, iron roofing sheets, window frames are purchased for a nominal fee by staff and local people
-anything else that cannot be recycled locally or in Pietermaritzburg is taken to the Municipal Dump who to this day has not got its act together to organise recycling despite the efforts of the local Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa and local women trying to make a living from their own recycling business
Today,I found a brown paper bag in the ‘paper’ bin inside of which was a whole rotten lettuce wrapped in plastic on a polystyrene base along with banana peels plus an empty wine bottle on the braai grid in the campers area all left behind it appears, by four educated older guests privileged to come from a first world English speaking country in fancy overland vehicles who camped there last night. They hail from a country where recycling is not voluntary but mandatory yet as tourists they abandon scruples and actively ignore the recycling bins and our requests to comply with reducing their footprint in this country.
The Mail and Guardian published an article in the June 7-13 2019 paper citing Greta Thunberg’s speech that cuts through the politics , excuses, selective ignorance and irresponsible attitudes that prevail whenever the topic of waste is thrown out there. Like playing ‘pass the parcel’ children’s party game , everyone wishes to reap the reward of a hidden gift whilst unwrapping a layer of paper without any concern as to what happens to all the paper covering it. And so these children grow up to be adults who always believe that the reward comes without responsibility or after thought. Yes, children are trained to think this way; that and I quote ‘a good and meaningful life is possible only through ever-increasing material consumption.’
So with all the formal education and wealth that Western life smugly worships comes dedicated unconcern and utter disregard for the legacy of consumerism; rubbish mounting in landfill, in the ocean and in the atmosphere.
During the 27 years running our Lodge, we have become increasingly concerned with the role that tourists, the places they visit and the staff that run them all have to play with responsible waste management. Punitive action to coerce people to comply is enacted in First World Countries which leads to the disappointing conclusion that educated adults cannot think about the consequences of their actions for themselves. And at the first opportunity a percentage will slide back into irresponsible waste disposal at the first opportunity when they go abroad on holiday , demonstrating insensitivity to local customs and ways of dealing with waste.