Friday, 19 November, saw the launch of the Clanwilliam EcoBricks Challenge. By turning harmful plastic into EcoBricks, it aimed to address the waste issue facing so many communities and provide residents of Clanwilliam with the invaluable opportunity to come together and effect far-reaching beneficial change for themselves and generations to come.
“Friday, 19 November, is also ‘World Citizen Day’,” says Michelle Korevaar, founder of ChangeMakers Hub
– the non-profit organisation spearheading the Clanwilliam EcoBricks Challenge. “This day reminds us how our actions as individuals impact our global human family and how many small ripples can add up to the wave of change that we need to help both people and the planet prosper.”
In partnership with Cederberg Municipality, the EcoBricks Challenge will run for a year and conclude on 31 October 2022. Says acting municipal manager, Andries Titus, “As a municipality we mustn’t fail to forget that we form part of the global community. This project will serve as a gateway into that very same community and will guarantee that our voice in a fight for a healthier ecosystem will be heard.”
The first initiative will see the EcoBricks used to build a ‘legacy garden’ in the town, complete with benches – a living tribute of the exceptional achievements that can happen when people come together for good and to provide a neutral and sacred place to focus on ‘our togetherness despite our differences’. The goal is to use 20,000 EcoBricks to build the garden benches, thereby turning 40,000 litres of compacted plastic into something beautiful and of value to the community and its surrounds. At the end of October 2022, the grand total of exactly how many cubic metres of harmful plastic this project has kept away from landfill will be revealed.
“We are in full support of not only the project itself but in particular the opportunities it unlocks such as skills development, employment, tourism sector development and the beautification of our towns,” says Titus. “This is something our local communities can be proud of and the legacy garden will serve as a monument for days to come.”
Bradley Zass, tourism development officer, comments: “The importance of raising awareness of our deteriorating ecosystem has been dismissed and neglected for far too long. ChangeMakers Hub in collaboration with Cederberg Municipality aim to break the silence by creating an all-inclusive platform, where locals can participate in an exercise that will contribute towards saving our planet. As a local municipality we are proud of the involvement of our locals. Not only for participating in this broad recycling initiative, but also for taking hands in building a better Cederberg region.”
With its official launch scheduled for 5 June 2022 – ‘World Environmental Day’, the Clanwilliam legacy garden will also have a legacy wall and a legacy pathway. Citizens will be invited to participate by buying their own brick to go into the paved legacy pathway. A reminder to all of the footprint we leave on this earth through our actions. With the devastation of Covid-19 still rife, it will also provide an opportunity to pay tribute to those who fell victim to a time in history we will never forget.
“We invite all members of Clanwilliam – its citizens, schools, business and all other entities and organisations within the area to commit to and take part in this ground-breaking initiative for the betterment of all,” says Korevaar. A first of its kind – ChangeMakers Hub aims to replicate what it is confident will be the success of this pilot project in other areas moving forward. “It is such an exciting opportunity – not only for members of the community to be involved in turning their living environment into a more sustainable and healthier area and, by so doing, leave a living legacy but, so too, to potentially showcase Clanwilliam as an example of environmentally conscious living and active citizen involvement.”
Says Zass, “We can’t afford to stop in spite of challenges and should stay focussed on paving the way forward, thus creating a blueprint for other municipalities to follow.”
“Our mission is to continue to build many other projects in this community partnership manner, with the next phase focused on craftmanship skills development utilising upcycled plastic,” says Korevaar. “We encourage all citizens to participate in the launch phase and become a ChangeMaker in their town, turning their waste into a brick with the resulting EcoBricks to be repurposed into various initiatives and ‘buildings’ around the area.”
To encourage and inspire the local community, ChangeMakersHub will award weekly, monthly and quarterly prizes with a grand finale prize awarded to the most active citizens at the end of the challenge
“There has, to date, been enormous support for this project with many of Clanwilliam’s citizens already signed up to take part including several schools as well as local businesses and community leaders,” adds Korevaar. “There are also still many opportunities available to get involved. No donation is too big or too small, with each contribution taking us closer to our goal of rewarding participating citizens with prizes to the value of R100,000.”
The coming weeks, and months, will also see the roll out of various initiatives within the area to empower, upskill and assist community members as they take up the challenge to turn waste to treasure. “We have several resources in place to help teach and train all those who are wanting to be part of this lasting legacy,” continues Korevaar. If you would like to get involved, to take up the challenge and become a ChangeMakers and Eco champion, please contact gro.buhsrekamegnahc@elppiratrats or call 082 556 4574.