On 16 October 2020, the Sustainable Seas Trust’s Education team and Economic Incentives and Enterprise Development team led a beach excursion that was attended by community members from Motherwell, Despatch, Helenvale, and Uitenhage in Nelson Mandela Bay. This excursion formed part of the Coastal Conservation Education programme, and the Train-The-Trainer programme with the Human Settlement Action Group NPC (HAG).
The Train-The-Trainer programme aims to equip selected community members with a diverse range of information pertaining to environmental issues. These community members, now peer trainers, will be a resource in their communities, educating their neighbours on concepts such as waste management, recycling, water awareness, and food gardens.
“The beach excursion formed part of a refresher course for the community members, since we last engaged with them in March 2020,” says SST’s Head of Education, Nozi Mbongwa. “Our goals for the beach excursion were to build capacity, develop environmental ambassadors, promote sustainable living practices and marine protection.”
The beach excursion included discussions about sources and pathways of litter, identifying what did and did not belong to the beach, and a clean-up and litter survey to end the outing. It was a fun day with a lot of workshopping and interactive activities.
“This morning was so interesting. One of the things we learnt was how plastics are ingested by humans and animals. I also learnt that the filters in cigarette buds are made from plastic”, says one of the community members, Sharon. “I enjoyed everything. I just want to learn and gain more knowledge. This knowledge, I will take home and share with my family.”
“This beach day was important because it helps build the connection between people and the environment. Conservation works when people know why they are conserving the environment or the ocean, what the point of it is and that they have the power to make positive changes,” says SST educator Joanna Wallace.
“Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to Africa’s marine biodiversity. Therefore, such educational beach days allow individuals to explore environmental issues, engage in problem solving, and take action to improve the environment. Through our Coastal Conservation Education programme, we hope to develop a deeper understanding of environmental issues and equip communities with the skills needed to make informed and responsible decisions to move Towards Zero Plastics to the Seas of Africa,” says Mbongwa.