Thursday, 23 August 2007

Please don't litter... and go rechargeable

Littering is probably my Number 1 environmental irritation. I've been a loyal supporter of Zibi the Ostrich (of Zap-it-in-a-Zibi-Can fame) since I was a young child; in the mid-80's Zibi visited my primary school promoting the government's anti-litter campaign (they really should bring it back). I loathe litter. My activism actions include throwing a can back into a woman's car, lecturing a dude at a robot (this unfortunate litterbug was driving in the same direction as me) and, recently, rolling down my window to comment to a vile passenger who'd nonchalantly dropped his chip packet, "Excuse me, you dropped your packet"... I mumbled a few choice expletives under my breath to round off the sentence.

Why, why, why do people find it necessary to throw their rubbish on the ground? Cans, bottles, food wrappers, packets - it is unsightly filth; and that's to say nothing of the environmental impact.

On Wednesday I visited three primary schools in Thembisa to observe the Mr Price Heros activity programme that has been implemented in these (and other) schools. The activities and games are fantastic; but the litter on the playgrounds and around the school buildings is terrible. Even worse... the children are oblivious.

I made a suggestion to the Sportstec people (Sportstec trains coaches for placement in the schools; and they have written the activity programme for Mr Price): their coaches should make the children pick up the litter before they start the fun games and activities. The children's positive behaviour (picking up litter) is rewarded with a fun session. The coach can point out to the children how much better their grounds look (instill a sense of pride in their immediate environment) and the improved playground surface due to the absence of bare-foot wrecking obstacles (we even picked up a large glass shard!).

I can bet that within two weeks the litter on the playgrounds will be drastically reduced:
  • if they have to pick it up, they'll throw less down (= more time to play)
  • the children will encourage their friends not to litter; if they're in the next class they'll have to pick up what their friends have discarded.

Will this work? I don't know. But, an attempt must be made to change this filthy habit; not only in these schools but also around the country. I hope to get another invitation in the coming weeks to head out there again.

As for YOU... road running... water sachets... Arrggghhhh....

Have you ever been a marshal at a road race? Have you ever spent 2-hours walking up and down the road picking up water sachets? Have you had to retrieve water sachets from bushes and road-side drains? If you can carry a full (or half-full) sachet 2km from a water table you can carry the empty sachet for another kilometer to discard in the bins at the next water tables. And, if you see anyone throwing sachets way into the bushes, tell them off. This is far worse than just dropping the sachet on the road, where the people cleaning up can easily retrieve it. Running a road race is no excuse to turn into a litter-bug. This is unacceptable behaviour. I tuck my empty sachets into my running shorts. Easy. This goes for gel sachets too.

I have spoken to Runner's World Magazine and they're looking into a campaign. We'd like to encourage runners to use the bins provided around water tables and eventually aim to stop road runners from throwing sachets on the road between tables. The road will be long and hilly... many bad habits to modify.

You may have noticed the banner (it needs a redesign) I put up on in July? It says, "Littering is naughty. Be good. Be clean. Be green." <-- my own little slogan. I urge you to be good and to postively influence those around you.

Would you believe that I found a little mpeg online with the Zibi song? The video footage isn't part of the original '80's campaign, but it is neat anyway.

The Zibi Song

When you've chomped your chips and your drink is done,
you've smoked your smoke and chewed your gum,
"Don't be the creep who mocks the streets!"
Zap it in a Zibi... Zap it in a Zibi... Zap it in a Zibi can.

When the game is through, when your team has won,
you've crushed your can, you've had your fun,
"What a disgrace to mess this place!"
Zap it in a Zibi...Zap it in a Zibi...Zap it in a Zibi can.

When you're on the road and you want a snack,
a drink, a pie or a sandwich pack,
"Don't be the punk who spreads the junk!"
Zap it in a Zibi...Zap it in a Zibi...Zap it in a Zibi can.

Hey, what happened?.

My second area of comment for this posting; batteries.

With AR we race through batteries for headlamps and bike lights. I not only resent dishing out dosh for something that I'll have to throw away; I have a fixed image in my mind of these things sitting in landfill for millenia, leaking acids and failing to degrade. Just awful.

Earlier this year I started using my wireless mouse for my laptop. It takes 2 x AAA batteries. And this mouse gobbles batteries. I did two battery changes and then went out looking for rechargeables. I bought 2 x Duracell rechargeable AAA's + charger (in a pack; charger also works for AA batteries and other brands) from Incredible Connection for R99.95.

The good news is that rechargeables are a much friendler price now than they used be; such that you've made up your money (and more) after two re-charges. And, the batteries can be recharged hundreds of times.

My next move is to buy more rechargeable batteries for my headlamps and bike lights. I'd like two sets of rechargeable batteries for my leadlamps, which I'll recharge before the races. I'll use them during the races with regular, unrechargeables on standby, incase they are needed. So, instead of going through 2-3 sets of throw-away batteries on a two day race, I may not go through any; recharging when I get back home.

This will not only save money (I feel that buying batteries over and over is equivalent to flushing cash down the drain) but will support my environmentally friendly inclinations. Try it too.

That's it for tonight. Nighty-night.


Anonymous said...

On litter when running, I just wish water tables would put out enough bins, far enough away from the water table. If you drink two sachets at a table, and walk while drinking there isn't a bin for the second sachet. Really how hard is it to ensure enough bins?

Rechargable batteries, just a warning, something like a mouse needs a very low current, and those same batteries may not work in you bike light or headlight. Ensure you get the right batteries. I have about 20 AAA rechargable batteries at home - I bought them for the Red Ants Rumble - and NONE of them work in my bike lights.

adventurelisa said...

Good points on rechargeables - thanks. I'll try it out (and will contact the manufacturers if they don't work - there has to be something suitable out there).
Tnx - Lisa

Mama Eagle said...

I love your idea of making the children pick up litter before playing and also rewarding this action. I run a primary school in Wallacedene and we are shortly planning our 2nd anti-litter campaign in the township. Any other ideas would be very much appreciated. You can find out more about our school, Eagle's Nest on
Mama Eagle(Celia Goddard)