In 150 countries, 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts have been using their power to improve the condition of their communities and the lives of others. This International Day of the Girl, 11 October, WAGGGS is celebrating the power and potential of girls.
Black plastic bags full of empty bottles spill from every side door of the Port Shepstone Guiding Hall. There’s a rustling sound and the bags part, giving way to a group of five girls, smiling as they emerge from the tightly packed bags.
Each is holding a plastic bottle, ready to transform it into an eco-brick, the group’s latest project. The South African Girl Guiding group has become synonymous with plastic recycling, using their leadership skills to inspire their community to collect plastic to support different causes.
In 150 countries, 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts have been using their power to improve the condition of their communities and the lives of others. This International Day of the Girl, 11 October, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) is celebrating this power and potential of girls by sharing their stories.
The group first began collecting plastic bottle tops to exchange for wheel chairs. Next they saw an owl rescue centre in Johannesburg was looking for plastic bottles. The centre cares for sick and injured owls, with the bottles going towards creating houses for the animals. About 200 bottles were needed for each home.
They have become so well known for their plastic work people often visit their hall during their weekly meetings to drop off black plastic bags full of bottles. So far they have 50 large bags of bottles, around 1000 bottles. They live just minutes from the coast. This unique location has meant they are particularly aware of plastic pollution.
Their next mission is creating eco bricks for one of the local high school’s building projects. These are plastic bottles stuffed tightly with soft plastics. They should be packed down so well they could be stood on without a dent.
“You use a stick to squish it down and stuff it into corners. You can fit a lot of plastic in there, you’d be surprised,” said Tatum, one of the group’s Rangers. WAGGGS wants to encourage all Girl Guides and Girl Scouts to reduce and recycle their plastics. The organisation is part of the team behind a new Plastic Challenge Badge which will see groups all over the world completing similar projects to the Port Shepstone unit.
“We also have water shortages and we collect water for people who need it,” said Mishka, another Ranger. The town’s municipality staff sabotaged the water system as part of strike action, last time the water stopped for three weeks. The Guide Hall has become a water hub for those in need. During the last shortage, the girls also delivered water to an animal rescue centre.