Ronel van Rooyen is a mathematics teacher at DF Malherbe High School in Port Elizabeth and a co-organiser of their reusable bag campaign.
We are very proud to be part of the Two Oceans Aquarium's Rethink the Bag campaign and to be listed as the first plastic shopping bag free high school in South Africa.
On 9 March 2015, our school set a new Guinness World Record for the longest chain of plastic bags. The chain consisted of 40 174 bags and stretched over more than 15km. This was done as part of the 60th birthday celebrations of DF Malherbe High School.
During this process, we gained and raised awareness about the pollution caused by plastic shopping bags. With great effort we found a company that recycles plastic bags into reusable plastic material.
We collected 55 000 bags (not all were tied into the chain), which together weighed 600kg.
After hearing about the Rethink the Bag campaign and learning how sea creatures especially suffer as a result of human irresponsible use of single-use plastic bags, we were inspired to motivate the learners to not use single-use plastic bags anymore. Our school is in Port Elizabeth and we love the ocean.
In October 2015, the school decided that no single-use plastic shopping bags would be allowed on the school premises. The parents’ support group was further inspired by the project and they designed this alternative, environmentally friendly shopping bag:
Our school’s credo is “Staan rotsvas” (“Stand firm”). We hope that the wording “Staan rotsvas teen plastiek” (“Stand firm against plastic”) and other slogans will inspire the public and learners alike to not use plastic bags.
The printed, reusable bags were officially launched on Monday 1 February 2016. We will donate R5 of the selling price of each bag to Bayworld in Port Elizabeth. Further income from the bags will be used to put up signs on our school premises, identifying this as a plastic shopping bag free environment.
Through this project, learners are constantly reminded of the negative effect plastic bags have on our environment. We already have a recycling project at our school. The dream is to educate individuals to engage responsibly with the environment in future.
"Baggage" - A documentary by Rethink the Bag
This short documentary, created by second year UCT film student Fritz Bucker and team, gives an overview of some of the pressing issues and supports why it is definitely time to Rethink the Bag.
May we all get to the point where we do not use any plastic bags and save the environment and our future.