Our environment has been changing rapidly. We can now clearly see the impact of Global warming and the effects of decades long exploitation of resources that has caused severe environmental damage worldwide. Whilst the world seeks solutions and continue to make pledges; hope for a better future still prevails. Even in the midst of a pandemic, we’ve seen the positive changes that occur when we all work together for the greater good.

Clanwilliam is a town located about 250 km north of Cape Town, right off the N7 and the Cape Namibia Route. The region known as the Cederberg is quite fertile with numerous agricultural practices, water sport at the Clanwilliam Dam and Rock Climbing and bouldering in the Cederberg mountains. It is a grandiose region and a perfect getaway for travellers. Change Makers Hub, in collaboration with the Cederberg Local Municipality, has started an environmental initiative that strives to combat climate change, educate and benefit the local community. The project introduced on 19 November 2021 is a first of its kind in this region and is known as the Legacy Garden.

The Legacy garden is a brilliant initiative in my opinion. Gardens are after all synonymous to paradise. This garden will be constructed by repurposing non-recyclable plastic waste. Plastic is a substance that can take up to 100 – 450 years to decompose. It’s a material that is prominent in our society and we often tend to forget the detrimental environmental impact it has. It’s easier to make plastic then to get rid of it. There is a worldwide initiative to minimise the use of single-use plastic, but we are still seeing these materials ending up in the ocean, landfill sites, the food we eat and our drinking water. Spreading awareness and encouraging recycling should always be on the frontline, yet we have to look at alternative methods to this problem. One such innovation is known as the Ecobrick. By using quantities of plastic as building material Ecobricks have become a method to not only combat the housing crisis but also building on open spaces. 

The event started cordially and the speakers elaborated on the significance and vision of the project. The idea behind it is to create a sacred space, much like the spots found when walking the distance of the Camino de Santiago trail through Spain. This hike has numerous landmarks that add to its magical and life changing experience. 

At the unveiling of the first structure built on site of the Legacy garden, representatives of numerous religious denominations in Clanwilliam were granted an opportunity to say a prayer in their mother tongue, blessing the soil of the garden. This combined effort signifies unity within the community and therefor makes the legacy garden project sentimental in essence. 

The garden will house the Spekboom plant, an indigenous succulent that has the ability to purify the air and fight climate change. This plant can survive the maximum heat of summer and doesn’t require much water to remain lively. Combine this with the eco bricks and it’s quite evident that the Legacy garden will be of great value and a great reference for similar future projects throughout South Africa. 

What makes this project also brilliant is its engagement with various stakeholders throughout Clanwilliam. The community’s involvement in the sourcing of the plastic bottles and non-recyclable waste material have started a ripple effect. Schools are permitting their pupils to partake in making the ecobricks and in the process teaching them about climate change. I see this as useful tools that can aid our future generations to make better choices and save our planet. Local Businesses and entities have pledged their aid to this project. We can clearly see that environmental sustainability is a priority for all sectors of our society.

The roll-out of this project will also see skill sharing exchanges and the empowerment of local residents. Every individual and business has a conscientious role to play. Regardless of how small, when we join hands we can change the world. This is how we pay respect to mother nature and restore balance. 

The location of the garden will be central in the town area, opposite the Ou Tronk museum. The official launch of the Legacy garden shall take place on 5 June 2021. The construction of this garden will be completed in October 2022. 

Should you wish to make donations or volunteer your time, feel free to reach out to Change Makers Hub Director, Michelle Korevaar at startaripple@changemakershub.org or call 082 556 4574 and Cederberg Municipality. Tourism Development Officer, Mr Bradley Zass at 027 482 8000 or bradleyz@cederbergmun.gov.za

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