Today, 5 June 2019, we celebrate World Environment Day, as first established and then implemented by the United Nations in 1974. It is a day that serves as a reminder to take care of our planet and an opportunity to educate the global populace on environmental issues like global warming, air pollution, and the depletion of the ozone layer. This year’s theme especially targets air pollution.
In South Africa, there are many small lifestyle changes we can make to help sustain the environment. But there are also many ways in which we can celebrate our country’s rich biodiversity. Number one: consume less plastic. There’s an immeasurable amount of plastic drifting across our planet’s oceans and its effects are disastrous. Number two: make use of public transport more often, if you’re able to. The gas omitted from every-day vehicles poisons the atmosphere and leads to the gradual decline of quality in terms of the air we breathe as well as the ozone layer that protects the earth from the harsh impact of the sun’s warmth and light.
Number three: pick up litter in your neighbourhood, on your local beach, at your workplace – wherever you spot it, learn to bin it. Coastal towns like Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban are especially susceptible to abundant seaside litter. In Cape Town, you can get involved with volunteer work by getting in touch with the lovely folks at The Beach Co-op, and in Durban you can contact KZN Beach Cleanup. The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) offers loads of local initiatives throughout the country for South Africans to get involved in, from ecotourism events to education and youth development programmes.
But World Environment Day also calls for a celebration of the beauty of nature, so why not use this as an opportunity to take your family on a nature outing. We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to national parks in South Africa, but our top recommendations include: Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in Gauteng, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town, Durban Botanic Garden in Durban, and the marvellous Garden Route National Park along the Western and Eastern Cape.
Places like Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West will also be celebrating World Environment Day by showcasing some of the estate’s most spectacular trees. Their camphor trees, old English oak, and maples are but only a few of the majestic sights to see. In wandering the grounds, you’ll find several ideal spots to take the family for an al-fresco picnic.
Tree-planting is another easy way in which we can actively combat air pollution. Local organisations like Greenpop are proud contributors to what they call a ‘Treevolution’. And by joining the organisation, or attending their events like the upcoming Eden Festival of Action, you’ll be able to get your hands dirty doing eco-friendly work, too. Greenpop host events year-round, so be sure to keep an eye on their Facebook page to stay up to date with their latest eco-building ventures.
By Features Writer Marike Watson