A walk on the wild side with plas­tic bags in hand

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - SAKHILE NDLAZI

MISS Earth SA re­gional semi-fi­nal­ist An­ne­mieke van Aarde has traded her stilettos and the cat­walk to give the rough ter­rain at the Eco-Glen Na­ture Re­serve in Tsh­wane a much-needed clean-up.

The project was done ahead of World En­vi­ron­ment Day, a global call for tak­ing ac­tion on ur­gent en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, which is cel­e­brated to­day.

In prepa­ra­tion for the day, Van Aarde, pupils from Maragon Olym­pus Pri­vate High School and ward coun­cil­lor Pieter van Heer­den got close with na­ture.

Lead­ing the pack was Van Aarde, who col­lected dis­persed waste on paths, in the reeds, at the bank of the river and in the for­est.

They mostly found plas­tic bags, cans and bot­tles. The pupils were sur­prised by the huge amount of garbage they col­lected in a very short time.

Van Aarde, a third-year stu­dent at the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria, who is ma­jor­ing in so­ci­ol­ogy and English lit­er­a­ture, said she had en­tered Miss Earth be­cause of the fo­cus on so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion.

“I am pas­sion­ate about peo­ple and seek to dis­til the val­ues of the pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights, an­i­mal rights and the re­spect for nat­u­ral re­sources within com­mu­ni­ties. In do­ing so, I be­lieve we are able to pro­tect the most vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of so­ci­ety,” she said.

The theme for World En­vi­ron­ment Day 2017 is Con­nect­ing Peo­ple to Na­ture, which in­vites peo­ple to en­joy the out­doors and take for­ward the call to pro­tect the earth.

Van Aarde was asked to or­gan­ise and host a clean-up within the local com­mu­nity for World En­vi­ron­ment Day.

“I chose Eco-Glen as it is im­por­tant to look af­ter our pre­cious nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments and del­i­cate eco-sys­tems. These nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments and their eco-sys­tems are un­der con­stant pres­sure due to their lo­ca­tion within the city,” she said.

Van Heer­den was ex­cited and said he had never seen any­body do­ing a sim­i­lar ini­tia­tive. “It is a great ed­u­ca­tional aware­ness be­cause peo­ple’s liv­ing habits have a huge im­pact on na­ture. We need to un­der­stand that we along with na­ture are one,” he said.

Eco-Glen Na­ture Re­serve forms part of the Moreleta out­fall, which runs through most of Tsh­wane and is a much big­ger ecosys­tem run­ning into the north­ern part of the coun­try and even­tu­ally ends up in Mozam­bique.

CARE: An­ne­mieke van Aarde helped clean na­ture re­serve.

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