On 15 September, South Africa celebrated National River Clean-up Day. Why do we need a national day dedicated to cleaning up our rivers? We take a look into the dirty depths of South African rivers, the importance of maintaining clean rivers for human and environmental health, and different ways that you can help keep your local river clean. When it comes to placing bins along a river to reduce litter pollution, a Street Scape steel bin is an ideal choice.
The Murky Waters of South African Rivers:
South African rivers support both human and environmental life, and also are the perfect backdrop for spending time with friends or family. Whether it is a family holiday canoeing down Orange River, spending afternoons picnicking at a park alongside your local river, or river water sports, there are so many amazing activities to enjoy alongside South African rivers. Yet below the surface of South African rivers lies a murky danger.
Many South African rivers and tributaries are polluted. When a river becomes polluted, it is no longer safe for consumption, use, and is dangerous for human, plant, and animal safety. Polluted rivers are therefore a major threat for South Africa.
The Olifants River in Mpumalanga, the Vaal River in Gauteng, and the Umgeni River in Kwa-Zulu Natal are but a few of the major rivers in South Africa that are highly polluted. These rivers are major water sources for South African communities and are essential for South African ecosystems, yet their rising levels of pollution are placing these communities and ecosystems under threat.
It is important to understand how the South African rivers are becoming polluted so that correct actions can be taken to keep rivers clean.
Causes of South African River Pollution:
We have outlined a few of the causes of river pollution in South Africa.
Litter: Litter from inland communities situated along tributaries and rivers are major contributors to South African river pollution. When a person in these areas drops their takeaway coffee cup or throws their empty grocery packets out on the street, this increases the risk of the litter ending up in the river. Litter pollution in rivers is not only an eyesore, but it also damages the health of the river.
Industries: There are numerous industries and factories that are located near rivers due to their dependence on a source of water for operations. Unfortunately, after these industries have used the water, they then return the polluted water into the river. Polluted water from factories can affect the nutrient and mineral levels in the water, the pH of the water, and the water clarity. All these factors can transform the river into an unsafe and threatening water source for humans and ecosystems.
Urbanisation: The increase of urbanisation has meant an increase in river pollution. Urban areas are highly populated, which increases the amount of litter and waste that can end up in the nearby river. Another contributing factor is the increase of construction in urban areas to accommodate the ever-increasing quantity of people who are moving to live in urban areas. The wide use of impermeable surfaces, such as tar and concrete, in urban spaces, increases water runoff. The water runoff in urban areas often contains litter, chemicals, and sediments which then pollute nearby rivers.
Deforestation: To make space for the increased population in urban areas, deforestation occurs. Trees and natural vegetation enable water to seep into the ground. When deforestation occurs in an area near a river, there is an increase in water runoff. This water runoff can also contain litter, chemicals, and sediments which causes water pollution.
Household Activities: There are various ways your household can be contributing to river pollution. When you wash your paintbrushes in the sink after a creative afternoon, spread fertiliser on your lawn, choose not to recycle, or neglect to fix the oil leak in your car, you are contributing to river pollution.
Why Do We Need To Keep Rivers Clean?
We take a look into the important rivers why clean rivers are important for communities and the environment.
Fresh Drinking Water:
Rivers provide fresh drinking water for South African communities. The water from the river is filtered through local water purification systems and then fresh, safe water comes streaming out your tap.
Many South African water purification systems are facing immense strain as a result of the increase in pollution in rivers. If we wish to continue having safe drinking water in our homes, we need to ensure that our rivers are kept clean.
Polluted rivers place a threat to human health. There is a multitude of life-threatening diseases that stem from polluted rivers, such as bilharzia, malaria, and cholera. By reducing the pollution in rivers, we reduce the threat of these diseases to South African communities.
Humans are not the only ones who need clean and safe rivers to survive. Rivers form a critical part of numerous ecosystems and support various animals and plants. When a river becomes polluted, these animals and plants struggle to survive, and the entire ecosystem around the river gets placed under threat.
Ways to Keep Rivers Clean:
We have created a quick and simple guide on ways to keep rivers clean at home and with your community.
Making a few small changes to your home lifestyle can make all the difference when it comes to preserving the health of South African rivers.
1) Conserve Water:
Reducing the amount of water you use at home can help preserve the health of rivers. When you use water, the contaminated water then needs to be treated by a purification system before it is returned to a river or other water source.
As previously mentioned, South African water purification systems are under strain and therefore there is an increased risk that your contaminated water is polluting nearby rivers.
A major way that a household can reduce the pollution in a river is to recycle at home. Instead of throwing all your waste away and having it end up in a waste dump, where it can spill or get blown into rivers, you can recycle your items.
When you recycle your recyclable items, such as glass, paper, and certain metals, you are ensuring that these items are being correctly disposed of and reducing the amount of litter that pollutes rivers.
3) Use Environmentally Friendly Household Cleaning Products:
Every time you wash your dishes, squirt bleach into your toilet or spray down your soapy car, there is a risk that these products, which are hazardous to river health, are being washed into your local river. By choosing to use environmentally friendly household cleaning products, you are reducing the number of hazardous chemicals that end up in rivers.
With Your Community:
The task of keeping rivers clean requires the effort and commitment of your entire community. Read through our recommended ways to get your community involved in preserving South African river health.
1) Allocate Steel Bins Along Riversides:
Many South African rivers draw local community members and tourists for days spent enjoying the water, braaiing alongside the river, and making memories with friends and family. A major issue is that when the daily festivities are over, there is litter that is left behind on the bank of the river. This litter then gets blown or washed into the river, and becomes a pollution problem.
An additional contributing factor is the numerous South African communities that live alongside rivers. The waste that these households produce is not always correctly disposed of. This increases the amount of litter that can end up polluting the river and threaten human and ecosystem health.
One way to reduce the amount of litter that ends up in rivers is to allocate bins in these riverside areas. An allocated bin will allow people to discard their waste in a bin rather than leaving it on the floor where it can end up in the river. Having bins alongside a river also creates an awareness in the community to reduce litter in the river.
When it comes to choosing a bin next to a river, we recommend a steel bin. A steel bin is a durable bin that can withstand the harsh conditions of sun or rain. A steel bin is also an affordable bin option to ensure that every community can afford to have bins placed nearby their local river.
If you want to add a steel bin alongside your local river, you can hold a community fundraising event. You can get the entire community involved, explain the importance of reducing litter pollution in the river, and come up with an innovative way to raise money to purchase the required steel bin quantity for your local river.
Street Scape provides a steel bin range that is an affordable and easy solution to preventing litter from ending up in rivers.
2) Join a River Cleaning Organisation:
Roll up your jeans, put on some gloves, and get involved in a local river cleaning organisations. Various organisations across South Africa hold weekly or monthly river clean-up sessions. This is a great way to spend a weekend with friends or family and get to know your local community.
3) Promote Clean Rivers:
You can help keep your local river clean by promoting the importance of clean rivers. Whether this is having conversations with friends and family on the impact of their activities on river health, donating a steel bin to a community or park located next to the river, or creating awareness programs, there are numerous ways you can make a large impact by promoting clean rivers.
Street Scape Steel Bin:
Street Scape is dedicated to maintaining the beauty and safety of South African rivers. One of the ways you can involve Street Scape in your project to clean up rivers is by donating Street Scape steel bins to areas alongside rivers.
Street Scape is a Cape Town-based manufacturer of steel bins. A Street Scape steel bin is an ideal choice to allocate alongside rivers to reduce the amount of litter that ends up in the river. Our steel bin is made out of galvanised steel to protect the bin from rusting or corrosion in outdoor environments.
It is easy to incorporate a Street Scape steel bin into your river cleaning project for any river in South Africa. We can deliver your desired steel bin to any location in South Africa with our delivery service. This makes a Street Scape steel bin a convenient bin to choose from for your river cleaning project.
A Street Scape steel bin is an affordable bin option for keeping areas alongside rivers clean from pollution. Our steel bin is high-quality, corrosion-resistant, and suitable for a wide range of budgets. This ensures that you can add the needed number of steel bins to your selected area and not have to worry about constantly replacing the bins.
A Street Scape steel bin is an affordable and easy solution to reducing litter pollution alongside rivers.