In a few days, many South Africans will set off for their annual holiday. Sensible travellers will ensure their suitcases contain sunscreens and hats to protect them and their families from the summer sun, and water to slake their thirst and fend off dehydration.
Bottled water is a healthy, guilt-free alternative to the tap when it comes travelling in or visiting drought-stricken areas as it helps reduce the pressure on already severely stressed municipal water distribution systems. In addition, recycling the bottle can reduce its environmental footprint by 25 per cent and ensure it does not contribute to marine pollution.
This is the message from South African National Bottled Water Association (SANBWA) executive director, Charlotte Metcalf, who urges holidaymakers to heed the anti-littering billboards and posters officials will most certainly have erected in car parks, along boulevards and sidewalks, and on poles thrust into the beach sand itself.
‘Given the amount of marine litter plaguing the world’s oceans, it’s important for holidaymakers to take these messages seriously and remember to discard any packaging and other rubbish in the bins provided,’ she says.
Metcalf pointed to Marine Litter’s article dispelling the numerous myths and urban legends about marine litter. This lists several ways holidaymakers – especially beachgoers – can all play their part in tackling marine litter, while on holiday on the beach as well as everyday:
- Be an educated consumer – dispose of your waste in responsible manner so that it doesn’t end up in the ocean.
- Reduce your use of unnecessary single-use plastics by choosing reusable items, carry a shopping bag, use a reusable coffee cup and purchase less food wrapped in unnecessary plastics.
- Sort and recycle your plastics – recycled plastic means less plastic being produced and entering the environment. It seems obvious, but we could do a better job of it.
- Take on and/or support direct action – participate in a local recycling programmes or beach cleanups. Support international campaigns that help remove plastic directly from the environment and prevent it becoming marine litter.
‘A very good example of an initiative to support is Plastics|SA’s project to collect ‘lolly’ or ‘sucker’ sticks from beaches with the help of Seadog Sport, DPI Plastics and participating consumers. Building on the success of its Fishing Line Bin project which encouraged anglers to properly discard their fishing line instead of leaving it on the beach where it could entangle birds and sea life, close to 400 ‘lolly bins’ made from PVC pipe off-cuts that were again donated by DPI Plastics have been installed at selected Blue Flag beaches as well as other coastal areas throughout South Africa.
‘All SANBWA’s members are required to support post-consumer recycling initiatives near them, and to design for recycling. Look for its logo on the bottled water you buy – this is a guarantee that the water not only comes from a sustainable source, the bottle can and will be recycled when disposed of it in the appropriate manner,’ says Metcalf.