2018 has been an incredible year for public awareness of the environmental issues surrounding plastic pollution and the prevalence of single-use plastic products in our society. The Two Oceans Aquarium’s Environmental Campaigner Hayley McLellan has taken our environmental message to 75 different organisations during 2018, and some of these engagements are promising spectacular results which we feel is moving us closer to a more responsible and sustainable way of life. Take a look at our highlights of 2018:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Six Cape Town schools commit to going plastic shopping bag-free

Six local schools took the plunge in 2018 and fully committed to becoming plastic shopping bag-free zones. These schools were Wynberg Girls' High School, The Grove Primary, Prestwich Street Primary, La Rochelle, German International School Cape Town and Timour Hall.

La Rochelle Girls' High School rethinks the bag!

Read more about the first of these schools to go plastic shopping bag-free.

What does this mean? No pupils, teachers or parents will bring or send plastic shopping bags to these school premises. All visitors will be advised of this policy, and neighbouring schools are also challenged to become part of the movement of a plastic shopping bag-free South Africa. We will continue with this drive in 2019 and any school can become part of this exciting movement. Please contact hayley.mclellan@aquarium.co.za if you would like information and support in making your school a plastic shopping bag-free zone.

SPAR donated 800 reusable shopping bags to the cause of eliminating single-use plastic bags at Prestwich Street Primary School.

50|50 features Straws Suck!

The Aquarium's Straws Suck campaign, aimed at eliminating harmful plastic drinking straws, was featured on one of South Africa’s favourite family environmental programs, 50|50 - a highlight for any movement! This well-rounded short doccie really captured the essence of the drive against single-use plastic, which is currently gripping the globe. Straws are one of the easiest items to give up, so we challenge you to say "Straws Suck!"

V&A Waterfront breaks up with plastic

The V&A Waterfront's “We’re breaking up with plastic” campaign launched with a large public activation in the Victoria Wharf mall.  With the V&A Waterfront being one of the world’s best-loved retail destinations, it holds the potential power to sway consumer habits and behaviour for the good of the earth. Their willingness to work hand in hand with the Two Oceans Aquarium saw the well thought-out launch of this campaign making a large public impact and gaining much retail support. We cannot wait to see what happens in 2019!

Take a look at the V&A Waterfront's plans for a "plastic-free precinct."

SPAR Eastern Cape and Western Cape move away from plastic

When the managing director of a company makes a big statement saying “Last year I sold 101 million plastic shopping bags and I will not do it again next year” everyone sits up and listens. Conrad Isaac of SPAR Eastern Cape did exactly this at the launch of their "STOP" campaign in Port Elizabeth this year.

Their move to offering paper bags is, at least, a move away from plastic bags and the group reported selling 3 million fewer plastic bags between April and September this year compared to the same period in 2017. Of course, the move to reusable shopping bags is what the Aquarium's Rethink the Bag campaign promotes, with paper bags still having a very high carbon footprint.

Read more about SPAR Eastern Cape's "war on plastic"

SPAR Western Cape also announced their next step in reducing plastic shopping bags. By simplifying customer choices, to support the reduction of plastic shopping bags, and by periodically swopping 10 plastic bags for one fabric reusable bag at their Western Cape stores, SPAR continues their relationship with the Aquarium.

What plans do SPAR Western Cape and Namibia have in store for single-use plasic bags?

Blue Route Mall joins Rethink The Bag campaign

Blue Route Mall decided to take on the Aquarium's Rethink the Bag campaign, specifically driving a plastic bag reduction programme for the three months of June, July and August. Blue Route Mall’s management, Redefine Properties, showed their commitment to this campaign in 2018, and have committed to engaging further in 2019.

South African celebs pledge to quit single-use plastic bags

Plastic Free July saw a huge influx of celebrity pledges to #rethinkthebag - including South African icons like Zolani Mahola, Siv Ngesi, Francois van Coke and Jack Parow. Capturing public attention by involving role models in causes can be very powerful, and our activities saw the Rethink the Bag campaign embark on a month-long collaboration with Twyg to engage South African celebs to lead the way by making their own personal commitments to the planet by refusing plastic bags forevermore. 

See even more celebrity pledgers and make your own Rethink the Bag pledge here.

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