Miki Redelinghuys is a filmmaker who helped mentor kids from Jan van Riebeeck Primary School in Cape Town, who wanted to make No Packet Required, a short documentary by children, for children (that adults can watch too). The documentary premiered at the South African Eco Film Festival earlier this month.
Once upon a time there were some kids. They did maths. Long multiplication. It went like this:
If there are 300 families in our school and each family goes shopping twice a week and each time they shop, they fill four plastic bags with groceries, how many plastic bags do the families in our school use in one year?
Multiply that by all the schools in the country and it’s easy to see how we use 8 billion plastic bags a year in South Africa.
Jan van Riebeeck Primary School in Cape Town has been running a very successful recycling depot for eight years.
In 2015 a group of parents decided to establish an eco-club for learners, the Liewe Aarde club. “Liewe aarde” is an Afrikaans phrase and roughly translates as “Dear Earth”, but can also mean “Oh, my goodness!” With 40 enthusiastic members, the kids have tackled issues such as recycling, using water wisely and biodiversity. Their Liewe Aarde initiative recycles plastic, paper, tin, glass, polystyrene and cardboard.
At the end of 2015 they launched a campaign against single-use plastic bags in the school. Grade 1 and 2 members of the Liewe Aarde club designed their own re-usable Liewe Aarde shopping bags, that are now being sold at the school.
After a visit to a recycling plant, the Grade 4s and 5s decided to make the short investigative documentary, No Packet Required, that looks at the life of a plastic bag once it has been dropped in a bin at the Liewe Aarde depot.
The film is written, filmed and hosted by the Liewe Aarde club members, Malaika Waddel, Helena Laubscher, Daniel Grutter and Benjamin Pienaar, all aged 10 and 11. The grade 3s created a stop-frame plastic bag animation for the film, and in the end the whole eco-club features in their shout out: “Sê nee vir plastiek!” (“Say no to plastic!”)
The emerging filmmakers were mentored and produced by documentary filmmakers Miki Redelinghuys and Tim Wege, while Annelie Janse van Rensburg, Nicola Davies-Laubscher and Isabel Lynch helped with script development and production.
Our efforts hope to support [Two Oceans Aquarium Environmental Campaigner] Hayley McLellan and her great initiative, Rethink the Bag.
Let this be a drop in the ocean of activism that is required to make South Africa a plastic bag-free country. Rwanda has done it, and so can we!