A powerful message and a new look at things! Big ups to Corona and professional big wave surfer, Frank Solomon who has created an evocative new 8-minute doccie/short film that showcases the incredible work that our informal waste pickers here in Joburg actually do.

Our planet is under stress and strain due to all the pollution, not only air and land but water as well – and the documentary serves to highlight the global plight of plastic pollution via a thought-provoking look in to the lives of two #StreetSurfers Thabo and Mokete, and it that aims to educate viewers on the important role they play in the waste cycle.

“Street Surfers” has already received some global attention and is on the official selection list for a variety of international film festivals. Recently it took top honours and won Best International Short Film, at the London Surf Film Festival (LSFF).

Ocean plastic pollution and most specifically single-use plastics (the likes of straws, cooldrink bottles, take away containers, plastic bags etc) are one of the biggest scourges of the ocean. Much of the ocean waste starts upland and flows down rivers and streams straight into the sea and affecting marine life in irreparable ways.

However, our South African band of waste heroes are making a massive sustainable impact in addressing this problem. The diminishment of biodiversity in our oceans is the single greatest threat to the survival of humanity. And with the diminishment of species in the oceans comes, diminishment of the quality of life for humanity.

This short documentary follows Frank’s journey to Joburg to meet Thabo Mouti and Mokete Mokete, who indirectly serve the environment through recycling as a means of income. Thabo and Mokete are “street surfers”, a familiar sight for drivers in and around the city’s streets.

South Africa is ranked as one of the top 20* worst polluters of plastics in the oceans, globally. It is said that every minute, one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into the South African oceans. Environmental groups say if nothing changes by 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by weight.

Frank continues, “One of the big problems is public awareness”. He continues, “People are often overwhelmed by the problem but if every one of us takes responsibility, by even picking up one piece of litter a day, every day, just think about the difference it would make. Our aim is to explore the issues and fight for change”.

There are an estimated 100,000** waste-pickers in South Africa who face many challenges working in the informal waste economy: they are prevented from access to landfills in some municipalities, stigmatised and exposed to unhealthy working conditions and vulnerable to volatile price changes on the scrap market. Yet informal waste pickers recycle 90% of the recyclables collected from households in South Africa; saving municipalities millions of Rands in landfill space every year.

Sifiso Pule, Corona Zone Marketing Manager, comments, “With the Street Surfers film, we’re bringing awareness to these unsung heroes who forage the rubbish in our suburbs and cities sorting it into recyclable bundles of glass, plastic and paper. Whilst they are doing this primarily for their livelihood, the effect of their efforts have resulted in South Africa ranked as one of the best performing countries when it comes to recycling”.

Locally, there have been a few significant projects that Corona has implemented in partnership with Parley for the Oceans. In November 2018 Frank Solomon conducted a coast to coast beach clean-up, highlighting the epidemic and its effects on marine life. This project highlighted how each and every individual has a responsibility to avoid the use of plastic wherever possible and can support initiatives that intercept plastic waste.

Earlier this year Corona continued its efforts through the #ProtectParadise initiative, in partnership with Parley and World Surf League. The #ProtectParadise mission aims to engage audiences globally on a clean-up network that is present in over 23 countries and has resulted in 537 clean-ups, 25,000 volunteers and more than 3-million square meters of beaches cleaned to date.

The documentary premiered locally on National Geographic, DSTV Channel 181 on Tuesday, 5 November.

Watch it here:

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