Does every little bit help?

Stephanie Thompson Stephanie Thompson
17th April 2024

I have just returned from an amazing 2 week break to my home town in South Africa.

I think every South African has the same sense of intense loyalty and passion for our home country, our roots, our people and our culture.  But is it enough?

I grew up in East London in the Eastern Cape in South Africa, and attended university in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth). The changes since I have lived there have been staggering specifically around poverty and infrastructure.

The comparison, between clean, leafy Hampshire and the Eastern Cape, are worlds apart as I wheel in my recycling bin today. Being so entrenched in the sustainable war, it was literally quite shocking and eye-opening being back in a 3rd world country where it’s about survival!

There seems to be little focus on sustainable initiatives and ESG rules and regulations (if any). Think the intent is big to help as the South Africans have true ‘gees’ (spirit) but its hard for them to carry on with the World issues whilst on their doorsteps there are bigger problems.

Poor infrastructure means zero consideration for pollution. Plastic bottles are on the increase, as you can't drink the water. Recycling still seems like a foreign concept, with the streets covered in rubbish, after bin bags have been dug through by the poor, unemployed people looking for food and what they can reuse. There are even still plastic straws much to my daughter's horror.

The Eastern Cape, if anyone has visited there before, will agree they have the most beautiful beaches, long stretches of rolling waves and towering sand dunes, but with each walk we did, we returned laden with bags full of rubbish and smashed glass.

One thing I was impressed with driving through Qqeberha, was most homes in the Eastern Cape have been forced to install solar panels and water tanks. I soon realised this is not because they are ‘going green’ and the country is aiming towards Net Zero, but because they have had to due to the weak and failing infrastructure. We lived with load shedding for many years. It’s the norm and people carry on. Solar is amazing as are the tanks, but it’s a problem when there is a constant drought, or the sun doesn’t shine as the batteries for the solar only store so much and once the tanks are empty they are empty!

 In a nutshell, what is the rest of the world really doing to help?

Looking at the big picture for third World countries:

We can help more with the environment if we can reduce the harmful effects and global warming, it will help countries without the infrastructure to better face the radically changing weather conditions.

Invest in impact projects around the infrastructure and basic human needs.

Education, support the young people, who are needed to make the changes and educate young and old about why and how.

Governments and politics, not sure how you get rid of corruption and radical politics without sanctions. Support and engagement would go a long way!

Visit to truly understand how every little bit helps! Or to save on carbon footprints, engage with local communities to see how to assist them.

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