Talking Rubbish – how children are the key to a greener future
Charity Environment360 is turning a nation of children into a nation of eco-warriors
By Daniel Neilson|
“Children are key to change because they are not set in their ways,” explains Cordie Aziz, Executive Director of charity Environment360, a charity dedicated to cleaning up Accra. “Our organisation believes that children are powerful change agents that can transform their communities into cleaner and greener spaces. Our diverse programmes empower children to clean their communities as well as gain a greater appreciation of nature.”
Environment 360 works with children through educational field trips, ‘do it yourself’ workshops and a variety of recyclable art classes that teach children how to creatively reuse their waste. They are also working with Voltic, Ghana's largest water supplier, on a series community recycling programmes. “Environment360 believes that waste is a way to economically empower many disenfranchised individuals. We believe that by exposing people to the opportunities that exist in the trash industry we can create an entire generation of leaders that create sustainable products that help us not only keep Ghana clean, but help combat climate change and environmental degradation throughout the world.”
FULL INTERVIEW WITH CORDIE AZIZ:
How did Environment 360 come about?
I moved to Accra four years ago and I noticed that the city was getting dirtier and dirtier, especially the beaches. Since I plan on residing in Ghana I really was curious to why communities weren't participating in good environmental sanitation habits, which affect us all. So I started to do some research and realized that many organizations and groups have tried to launch recycling initiatives, but there was always one key component missing... education, especially education of children, who will undoubtedly become the community change agents that transform Ghana into a cleaner and greener space.
Ghana produces an estimated 13,000 metric tons of trash daily, but when you look at the numbers almost all of the trash is recyclable. Environment360 was created to help address the environmental educational gap that is critical to sustainable development. When was it launched and what is the ethos behind it? Environment360 was launched in November of 2013. Our organization believes that children are powerful change agents that can transform their communities into cleaner and greener spaces. Our diverse programs empower children to clean their communities as well as gain a greater appreciation of nature. In essence, we believe if you want a cleaner Ghana, let' start with the children
Children are at the centre of the Environment 360 focus? Why are they so important for change?
Children are key to change because they are not set in their ways. We believe that by educating children in their formative years, which are critical to development, we can change perceptions and behaviors towards the environment. Children are also the main individuals responsible for waste disposal throughout Ghana, we believe that if we empower them through education of waste segregation and clearly show them the impact waste has on the environment they can help clean Ghana up immediately and keep it clean for years to come.
What kind of day-to-day work does Environment 360 do?
Our main programming is educational field trips, Do It Yourself Seminars and a variety of recyclable art classes that teach children how to creatively reuse their waste. We host tours at Legon Botanical Gardens, Danyame Farms and Biofill toilets to help children better understand nature and the importance of conservation through responsible environmental behavior. We also go into underserved communities and participate in national sanitation day. Children participating in national sanitation day earn an environmental party at the end of the month where they come on field trips for free and receive our education. Next year, we hope to implement recycling programs in the schools we are training this year. We also use our indigenous cartoon characters Jaku and the Earth Defenders to help students understand the direct link between poor environmental sanitation and personal health. The characters are featured in a mobile cartoon gallery, as well as activity books. The mobile gallery is available for community events and school rental.
Environment360 has also partnered with Voltic, Ghana's largest water supplier to create Evolve, a community recycling program for the Cantonments area launching the 10th of October. Residents opt into the program by buying a recycling bag for GHC 20. They then bring their plastic bottles in for recycling each Saturday at the Green Market at Kaya. We also have created a line of Do It Yourself seminars that teach people how to build solar panels, harness wind power and create composts. Our hands on art classes teach children creative ways to reuse their trash, while also helping them better understand the effects various waste products have on the environment.
How can companies in Ghana get involved with Environment 360?
Companies can get involved in various ways. We are always looking for sponsors to help support our work in underserved communities. We always need partners to help provide clean up gear, transportation and snacks for our national sanitation day activities, as well as support our environmental parties that take place at the end of each month. Organizations can also help us by recycling their paper and plastic bottles with us. We take the donated recyclables and sell them in order to help raise funds to support our community initiatives. We have a variety of recycling options available for small and large companies. We also welcome companies that want to donate their time and volunteer with us as well. We really believe change starts in the community so we always welcome collaborations that have a shared value proposition for all parties involved.
Environment360 believes that waste is a way to economically empower many disenfranchised individuals. We believe that by exposing people to the opportunities that exist in the trash industry we can create an entire generation of leaders that create sustainable products that help us not only keep Ghana clean, but help combat climate change and environmental degradation throughout the world.