Single-use plastic items like straws are destroying habitats and ecosystems all over the world. As part of SCOUTS South Africa’s dedication to achieving the SGD Goals, the 2018 Cub Challenge was for them to be friends of nature and to learn about the dangers of disposable plastic items, find out about environmentally friendly alternatives and rethink their relationship with single-use plastic.
10 year old Harriet Dawes from the 1st Fourways Cubs Pack did not only learn about alternatives, but she took action which led to a change of heart by the executives of the Montecasino in Johannesburg.
“I love being a Cub, especially going out on camps and having fun with my friends”, says Harriet with a smile. “Our Pack took part in a river clean-up at Emmarentia Dam and Jukskei River and I decided I wanted to research environmental conservation for my Leaping Wolf project. Seeing as dolphins are my favourite animal, I decided to research ocean life. I was really shocked and sad to see the horrible photos of sea creatures suffering from having plastic inside their bodies or stuck around their necks. I discovered that people don’t recycle enough and that one of the biggest problems is single-use disposable plastics, like straws. They can’t be recycled.”
“My family and I go to Montecasino often. I saw how many straws were being used there and so I decided to write them a letter and ask them to rethink using straws in all their restaurants and to join a campaign I found called “The Last Straw campaign”. I was really surprised to hear from them but I am happy that they decided to listen and that they will be asking the shops and restaurants to stop using straws”.
When Chief Scout Brendon Hausberger heard about Harriet’s achievement he had the following to say “I was incredibly proud to hear that a Cub from 1st Fourways Cub Pack successfully took on a corporation that was contributing to the pollution and destruction of our marine biodiversity. It is clear that Harriet not only did a good turn and worked to make the world a better place, but that she went beyond that and did a great turn as part of her Leaping Wolf Challenge. Researching the recycling policies of a giant like the Montecasino and then approaching them to help them to understand there is a better way, and lead them to change their ways, shows Harriet’s courage and dedication to the world we live in. It also highlights her leadership and problem solving abilities, which are both properties we desperately need in South Africa.”