YES WE CAN! BY MICHELE BEATHAM
During a recent Cape Town heat wave, I surprised myself by buying a can of carbonated soft drink, something I generally avoid. With metal a theme for this issue, the empty can became, for a time, a desk ornament. Did you know it takes 500 years for aluminium to break down? Motive enough to recycle, especially given that beverage, food, paint and aerosol cans are 100% recyclable. However, I also discovered that recycling a single can is able to power one television set for three hours or a 100-watt light bulb for twenty hours; facts, in my opinion, much cooler than the temporary relief offered by the cold liquid within.
Through the work of non-profit organisations like Collect-a-Can, the recovery rate for cans increased from 18% in 1993 to 70% in 2008, thereby aiding the planet, providing tens of thousands of South Africans with a way to earn a living and raising awareness at all levels, particularly among the youth, as their annual schools’ competitions prove. In 2007, Collect-a-Can set the Guinness world record for the most number of cans collected from schools in one month. In 2008, they successfully defended their title. The company gives away prizes totalling more than R250 000 annually for total amounts collected, fun can-creations, essays, poetry and more. Proof that recycling nurtures more than just the planet. We CAN make a difference.