September is a major month on South Africa’s calendar.
Not only is it Heritage Month, with the 24th being Heritage Day, it also happens to be Tourism Month.
Our heritage is our story, and our story is unlike any other.

Photo credits (both): Creative Commons

Tourists are attracted to, not only our diversity, but our coastlines, our vegetation, our wildlife, and how it all differs from province to province.

And this also ties in with Arbor Week (1 – 7 September) and National Wildlife Day (4 September), which is a further reminder that we need to preserve and look after our country, in every aspect.
We need to look after each other, lift one another up, look after our animals – on land and in the sea. We need to plant more trees, more flowers. Respect each other, our animals and our plants.

Photo credits (both): Creative Commons

That being said; plastic materials are durable and very slow to degrade, and are used in the production of so many products and ultimately become waste with staying power.

Our tremendous attraction to plastic, coupled with increasingly over-consuming, discarding, littering and thus polluting, has become a combination of lethal nature.

Photo credits (both): Creative Commons

The United Nations Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP), estimated that land-based sources account for up to 80 percent of the world’s marine pollution, of which 60 to 95 percent of the waste being plastics.

Lewis Pugh’s Epic Swim

Picture credits (both): National Geographic

Lewis Pugh, the British-South African endurance swimmer and ocean advocate, is passionate about the topic and bringing attention to it.

“I began swimming in vulnerable ecosystems to draw attention to the impact of our actions on our oceans.
I saw plastic pollution in the most remote parts of the oceans, and garbage piling up so thick on city beaches that you can no longer see the sand.
“I’ve witnessed drastic changes in my lifetime – changes that have come about because of our actions.

Picture credits: 
Left: Creative Commons
Right: The Guardian

I soon realised that it would require a different kind of action to bring about the changes needed to protect our vulnerable natural resources.
“And so I began talking – to national and citizen leaders, to policymakers, environmentalists, scientists and the media.
I’ve been privileged to be a part of some positive changes, and to share my stories so that people realise that we all have it within us to make a difference.

Picture credits: 
Right: Instagram

“The oceans cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface.
We rely on them entirely for our survival – and the amazing creatures that live in them now rely on us for protection.”

One Supermarket Makes A Big Change

Picture credits: 
Left: Andrew Birss 
Right: Creative Commons

De Jonker KwikSpar in Stellenbosch (Western Cape) has done away with plastic bags.

“I have been looking for a nice alternative to plastic for a while, but struggled to find a good quality paper bag,” said Andrew Birss, Co-Owner of the store.

Picture credits: 
Left: Andrew Birss 
Right: Creative Commons

But they managed to find one that is stronger and bigger than the normal plastic bags they normally sold.
From that day, Birss says he decided to stop ordering plastic bags for checkout.  

Birss said he sold an average of 11 000 plastic bags each month, and now sell none.
“I sold about 5 000 paper bags last month, so people are definitely reusing the paper bags and the other options – which was the whole point,” which is brilliant!  
“The customers embraced the new paper bags and started purchasing other reusable Spar carrier bags. And most importantly, they brought the bags back to the store (to reuse) when they shopped!”

Photo credits (both): Creative Commons

Two weeks ago, I instructed Coca-Cola to stop bringing me plastic drinking straws, and I am currently looking to sourcing alternatives.”

One alternative is Spaghetti Straws:

The use of pasta as a single use straw is a far superior alternative for the environment as the product is biodegradable. Spaghetti Straws aims to assist South Africans in alleviating the need for single-use plastic straws and save the planet, one noodle at a time.”

Photo credits (both): 
Facebook: @spaghettistraws

Dwain Heldsinger refers to himself as the Accountant, Planner, Packer and Delivery Boy for the company, Spaghetti Straws.
He says he got the idea for the concept from an Italian restaurant he went to one evening – “This was the spaghetti they used, rather than the traditional kind.”

The reason why the straws are the perfect alternative, is because “…not only are they biodegradable, but they’re edible too!”

Heldsinger says he finds that “…individuals love it, but it’s not really selling to restaurants because of the extra cost.” However, the cost of saving our planet is much, much higher.

Photo credits (both): 
Facebook: @spaghettistraws

It’s every individual’s responsibility to do our bit to strive for a cleaner, healthier environment, not only for animals and nature, but also for ourselves – uplift each other and fellow community members – making us proud of our country and where we live. Creating a greener and cleaner neighbourhood will promote better living standards for everyone living in- or visiting the area.

Photo credits (both): Creative Commons

We at OurHood would like to promote neighbourhoods to run clean-ups of their immediate area. This is a great way to meet your fellow residents as well as creating that greener, cleaner environment.

OurHood residents in South Africa tend to show tremendous patriotism and hospitality, treating guests coming to our shores with a smile and a helping hand, which will no doubt be better for our economy. The theme for Tourism Month this year is “Tourism and the Digital Transformation”, which is aimed at promoting employment and community development while having a low impact on the environment.

Photo credits (both): Creative Commons

MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, recently said they are using the power of digital marketing to remind tourists that: “…(KwaZulu-Natal is) a unique destination that boasts an infusion of diverse cultures of African, European and Oriental origins that makes (the province) a real home away from home for many people the world over.”

Photo credits (both): Creative Commons

Tourism not only creates cultural awareness, but helps preserves cultures and traditions too.
Tourists ultimately end up in our neighbourhoods as temporary residents, and OurHood hopes you welcome them as you would a new neighbour moving into the area.

Photo credits (both): Creative Commons

Have a great Heritage and Tourism month, from all of us at OurHood.