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Young ‘Earth Warrior’ tackles plastic pollution
Sara Gopal, a young environmentalist from Uitenhage, has been selected and invited to participate in various virtual environmental events, both nationally as well as internationally.

HUMANS operate on earth in an extremely selfish and short-sighted manner.

This is according to a young environmentalist from Uitenhage, Sara Gopal (16), whose project “Pollution: A matter of life and death” has been shortlisted in the Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) international competition.

“We have to consider the repercussions of our actions on the world around us, especially for future generations,” said Sara Gopal, a Grade 11 learner at Riebeek College Girls’ High School.

Following her project being shortlisted, Sara has been selected and invited to participate in various virtual environmental events, both nationally as well as internationally.

“People need to be more environmentally conscious. Small changes can make a big difference, if we all work together,” said Sara.

“I would like the people from Uitenhage, South Africa and the world to work together in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the year 2030 to secure a better and more sustainable future for all.”

Sara’s journey as an “Earth Warrior” began when she joined the school’s Going Green Club. She has since left the club and now continues to do her bit for the environment by doing solo clean-ups and raising awareness of pollution and illegal dumping and its detrimental effects on the environment.

“Uitenhage needs to implement a ‘Litter Less’ campaign and elect a steering committee to oversee it. But all residents, the municipality, schools as well as community organisations should pool their resources together.”

In the absence of local campaigns like these, Sara suggests that the public can start getting involved to combat plastic pollution at home.

“Avoid using single use plastics, invest in reusable items like shopping bags, straws, water bottles and coffee cups and buy products made from recycled materials. Remember always to practise circular economy and reduce, reuse and recycle,” said Sara.

Sara Gopal on one of her clean-ups and raising awareness of pollution and illegal dumping and it’s detrimental effects on the environment. PhotoS:SUPPLIED

Virtual environmental events

She currently participates in the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) and South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) European Union Climate Diplomacy Week, a virtual global event which is being held September 15 to 23.

“The themes include circular economy, biodiversity, climate adaptation, just transition and sustainable energy. I will be working behind the scenes, creating and sharing content, driving people to join the conversations on various social media platforms,” said Sara.

Sara has also been invited to join the Sustainable Seas Trusts (SST) African Youth Waste Network Eastern Cape Committee which is an active platform for youth between the ages of 15 and 24 to collaborate in order to achieve the ultimate goal of Zero Plastics to the Seas of Africa.

In addition to these environmental campaigns, she also is participating in the Growing Foxes Roundtable Discussion: The Future of Education, which is done through a web-based platform from 14 - 28 September.

  • All who share Sara’s concern about our planet are invited to vote for her article “Pollution: A matter of life and death” by clicking the ENJOY button on the top right hand corner on the link: www.yrecompetition.exposure.co/south-africa-5
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