Collecting river garbage, creating jobs, finding solutions

Help Up, an initiative in Cape Town, has consistently been cleaning up the Black River Raapenberg channel which runs through the Cape flats. In 2019, over 4,000 bags of garbage were cleared that would have ended up in the ocean. They use volunteers and employ homeless and unemployed people, to clean up and collect tons of waste. 

Help Up is a solutions-based “compassionate disruption” initiative which aims to amplify awareness of communal environmental responsibilities. People from all walks of life work together as a team to collect rubbish from rivers and drive change in their communities through the example of action.

Since January 2019, Help Up has activated over 49 Sunday clean-ups and collected a total of 39 tons of plastic waste from inside the Black River alone over 33 weeks. Not only does this clean up prevent ocean pollution but it also improves the quality of life for the birds that inhabit that section of the river. 

It costs the City of Cape Town eight times more to clean rubbish out of a river than it costs to clean out the same volume from a bin. 

The cost-saving of their weekly clean-ups also contribute to the city’s bottom line. 

Help Up has also initiated a “Franchises are Free” pilot project in Langa, Cape Town. This is an app-based satellite clean-up initiative where a resident is provided with all the tools necessary to host their own clean-ups, hire employees and report on the clean up.

The success of this project requires that people learn about the importance of clean water by actively building relationships with each other and the environment.

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Author: Sylvia Jacobs

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