Youth for the earth

With the eco-crusade ever roaring, the Swakopmund Junior Town Council jumps into the battle. PULL QUOTE: Viktoria Keding; co-founder of Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust - “We are dependent on a plastic lifestyle.”

25 February 2020 | Youth

Iréne-Mari van der Walt

The Swakopmund Junior Town Council has joined the eco-friendly movement with a gathering dubbed ‘There is no Planet B’ on Saturday evening. Two Private School Swakopmund (PSS) teachers joined as keynote speakers.

Viktoria Keding is the director and co-founder of Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NADEET) and was honoured with the UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development in 2018.

NADEET stands for the bridging of eco-challenges through education by addressing relevant issues and assisting the school curriculums in the country.

Keding’s first order of business – plastic. “We are dependent on a plastic lifestyle,” she says. She told of the history of plastic and its rise in popularity as a substitute for ivory, given that the ivory trade is not sustainable as plastic has now proven to be.

She, however, does not make an enemy of plastic altogether as she explains the positives of plastics for the use of medical equipment and technological appliances. Keding feels adversely toward single-use plastic and warns that the frivolous consumption of single-use plastics could contribute to the downfall of mankind. She encourages drinking cold beverages from aluminium containers rather than polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics.

“It’s even better than glass, because it has more commercial value. People trade old aluminium cans in as waste metal and they get more for it than they would get for glass,” she explains. Glass, aluminium and other metals can all be recycled indefinitely.

She also explained that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is no longer alone in our oceans with four new garbage patches discovered. Garbage patches are collections of non-biodegradable waste that end up in the world’s oceans and are collected together by oceanic currents. These pose an immense threat to marine life.

Plastic waste costs the fishing, shipping and tourism industries an average US$13 billion (more than N$195 billion) annually.

Keding also applauded Namibia for the “pretty amazing technology” the country has available for recycling.

She believes that the power to change the current crisis lies in numbers. “We all just need to be doing what we can. There’s not enough people who are willing to stand up and make a difference,” she said.

Else Licti, a geography teacher at Private School Swakopmund, discussed how population growth affects the earth. She expressed satisfaction with the shrinking of current world populations, but explained that poverty keeps population growth on a rise. “Two billion people live in extreme poverty. They must have children to take care of them when they are old. They have no choice but to have more children than the average,” she said.

Lichti explained that population growth puts strain on natural resources and promotes deforestation.

She also gave insight into the occurrence of global warming and how the melting ice caps affect earth temperatures. “The ice will reflect most of the sun’s light back, but with most of the ice gone the light does not reflect and it stays in our atmosphere,” she detailed.

Licti remains positive and left the young group encouraged. “You being here means you care enough to make a difference. We can all make a difference by being a good influence and doing what we can,” she concluded.

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