Public-private partnership sees Pick n Pay bring environmental awareness to Nelson Mandela Bay schools
Ten schools in Nelson Mandela Bay have been involved in a five-day environmental clean-up and plastic pollution education awareness programme in a collaboration between Pick n Pay and Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE).
The programme, which kicked off on April 17 2023, was conceptualised after a letter from Pick n Pay Chairman Gareth Ackerman to Minister Barbara Creecy, requesting collaboration to bring education and awareness to the schools on the problem of plastic pollution through Pick n Pay School Club, and to the general public.
The five hundred learners, from Kariega schools Solomon Mahlangu, VM Kwinana, Phaphani and John Walton high schools and Mqhayi, Gontshi, Seagull, Little Flower, Dalrose, and James Ndulula primary schools, were given environmental education on the importance of trees, waste management, the use of plastic, food security, recycling and organic waste. Trees, provided by DFFE, were planted by learners with assistance by Pick n Pay and DFFE staff – including 50 at John Walton High School which commemorates its 50th birthday this year – and guidance given on planting of food gardens and earthworm farming sites.
“As a leading retailer, Pick n Pay is committed to reducing our impact on the environment and encouraging our suppliers and others to do so as well. Every one of us has a role to play in reducing our environmental footprint to help us collectively manage environmental risk,” says Pick n Pay Eastern Cape CSI Manager, Maritsa Van Schalkwyk.
“Engaging with the youth, especially during these foundation years, to educate them that the environment is a valuable resource we need to safeguard, is incredibly important. This will entrench sustainable behaviours and values as they grow to become our country’s next future leaders.”
Pick n Pay provided refreshments for the learners after the clean ups, and gave educational talks on what they are doing to minimise plastic pollution. Each learner received a PnP School Club Pencil bag which is made from recyclable PET bottles. Schools are signed up to join the Pick n Pay School Club programme, which delivers free educational content to its network of over 3,300 schools nationwide.
Partners included the Sustainable Seas Trust which Pick n Pay has a close relationship with due to the Pick n Pay People n Planet Clean-Ups, the next of which will be held in Walmer on April 22 in celebration of Earth Day.
“The schools were encouraged to start environmental clubs to continue with clean-ups around their schools as well as to plant vegetable gardens,” says Van Schalkwyk. “We have done over 40 clean-ups with schools across South Africa through our Pick n Pay People n Planet Clean-Up programme, and plant gardens with the Pick n Pay School Club members.”
“Community environmental awareness campaigns serve as a platform to educate members of society on how the environment can benefit society. These engagements also promote a two-way communication between communities and government. We all have a role to play in keeping our country litter free,” says Albi Modise, spokesman for DFFE.