By Rebecca Bloomfield
On the 5th June, we took part in World Environment Day at the Wildlife Centre. This year’s theme, Beat Plastic Pollution, focuses on the global issue of plastic litter and invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce plastic pollution. Whilst plastic can have many uses, single-use plastic is only used once before being thrown away and is having a severely negative impact on the natural world. Nearly one-third of the plastic packaging we use ends up polluting our environment. Shockingly, by 2050 it is estimated that there will be more plastic in our oceans than there are fish. On the land, plastic can be eaten by wild animals which leads to suffocation and starvation.
We invited 120 students from schools in the local area to come together and join us in a variety of activities which promote recycling and sustainable use of plastic. This included fun recycling games and roadside litter picks. The plastic collected from the litter picks was then used to make Ecobricks. An Ecobrick is a plastic bottle which has been packed tight with plastic rubbish, such as food wrappers and plastic bags, to create a building block. Making Ecobricks ensures that harmful plastic is secured safely inside the bottle instead of damaging the environment by ending up in our water sources or in the stomachs of animals. Ecobricks also help to raise awareness of the risks that plastic poses to our wildlife.
The Ecobricks created by the students will be used in the future to make a structure at the Wildlife Centre. Globally, Ecobricks have been used to make furniture, such as seats, make walls and provide insulation, and transform outdoor spaces with colourful plastic sculptures. Using plastic bottles provides a zero-cost building material which can be reused and reduce pollution. The students also learnt how to make recycled paper briquettes, a more environmentally friendly alternative fuel source to firewood and charcoal. You can learn more about these here! Additionally, we were thrilled to welcome our guest of honour, Michael Makonombera, Deputy Director from Environmental Affairs Department, with a special appearance from Brighton Kumchedwa, Director from Department National Parks and Wildlife.
The event was a collaboration between Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi, and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife. We believe that involving students in environmentally sustainable practices and teaching them the importance of protecting nature will foster a sense of environmental stewardship for generations to come. Our thanks to all schools involved: Likuni Primary School, Good Shepherd, Christian Heritage Primary, Chipasula Secondary, Mphungu Primary, Chatuwa Primary, Chimutu CDSS and Mlodza.