Mandela Day calls on us all, every day, to make the world a better place. Each year on the 18th July we look back on what has been done,and forward to what will be done. This year we celebrate 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth. All are encouraged to contribute 67 minutes of public service. One minute is given for each year of Mandela’s 67 years of public service,starting in 1942 when he first started to campaign for the human rights of all South Africans.
“I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses. We must never forget that it is our duty to protect this environment”. Nelson Mandela
What are you going to do for your 67 minutes of service? Not sure where to start? Here we offer up some suggestions on how you may want to get involved in serving your community and giving back to your environment.
JOIN A LITTER CLEAR UP
Litter: The bane of the life of any environmentalist. We are all far too accustomed to the convenience of packaged foods and other goods. Once that packaging has served its useful purpose in life it usually either ends up in landfill or often becomes environmental pollution. For starters, litter is unsightly and an eyesore. Nobody wants to see it polluting their local nature reserves or national parks. Far worse are its impacts on public health, wildlife and watercourses. Often it will end up finding its way into the sea, impacting on marine life too.
The good news here is that here you can make a difference. For Mandela Day there are many organised litter clearing events happening around the country,to the benefit of our communities, rivers, mountains, nature reserves, national parks and wildlife. Many community groups also have regular cleaning events to clear litter pollution in our wetlands, waterways and on our beaches. Check out social media platforms for more information on events happening around the country and consider lending a hand. Conservation and environmental action starts at home so find out what is going on in your area or start your own initiatives.
CLEAR SOME ALIENS
So what is all this talk of ‘aliens’ that has been in the media before and during the current drought? One may be confused into thinking we are referring to extra-terrestrial life here. In fact,alien invasive vegetation comprises plants that have been introduced from overseas that have become invasive in our own ecosystems,outcompeting our local indigenous flora,choking our river systems,often becoming a fire hazard and guzzling far too much precious water that could be filling our dams. There is no doubt,they need to go.
Many of our local community groups are taking action here, so check out their social media platforms to find out where and when and get involved.
PLANT A GARDEN
With the current drought and impacts of a changing climate making their presence known, now is a more important time than any for us to realise that growing indigenous and gardening waterwise is a necessity rather than a choice. Growing a water guzzling European style garden with swimming pools,sweeping lawns,roses and hydrangeas needs to be a thing of the past in our water scarce country. Perhaps a garden in your local community is looking dead and sad following several dry summers and needs cheering up?
If there is a communal outdoor space you know that needs some love,why not donate some indigenous plants and work with and support the owners in making them grow. Not only will it benefit the people that use it but also the local wildlife too.
JOIN A FRIENDS GROUP
Do you use a green space in your community regularly for recreation? Chances are your local park or nature reserve will have a Friends group. Friends groups are a strong force for community conservation and a place to volunteer your time and skills to the benefit of your local environment.
They liase with the main management authority for the space and might get involved in alien clearing,litter picking, environmental education, restoration work, conservation planning, organising talks and walks and much more. Your membership fee will go to helping support their work in conserving and making that green space that you use the place it is. Why not consider volunteering too? Get involved, attend events and consider serving on their committees for a rewarding way to give back to your community.
Raising awareness about the importance of conserving and protecting our environment is a key way to inspire others to get involved. So don’t keep quiet about your efforts, share them with your friends and networks on your social media platforms. Our partners at WESSA (Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa) are inviting you to join the #WESSAChallenge and pledge your 67 minutes for a better environment, then post a pic of you,your family and friends doing your bit for the environment this July.
Feeling too pushed for time to squeeze in any volunteering? Why not consider making a donation to a charity of your choice to support their vital work?
At the end of it all, don’t forget that every day should be a Mandela Day. Make time to serve your community and help protect and conserve your local environment. Community conservation is a critical force and anyone can make a difference.