Yola Mgogwana is just 13, but she has been a climate activist for three years and she tries to be the change she wants to see in the world.
“People don’t see and realise there’s a crisis, but I know because I have seen it,” she told a climate change event at the V&A Waterfront amphitheatre earlier this month (May 12).
“I am already living in the future that many environmentalists fear.”
The event, Force of Nature, was organised by the natural products retailer, Faithful to Nature, in a bid to grow the conversation around curbing consumption through conscious purchasing and getting people to understand the impact of waste.
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Mgogwana was joined on the podium by three females – Faithful to Nature’s Robyn Smith, Aaniyah Omardien, founder and director of the Beach Co-op, and Xoli Fuyani, environmental education project manager at Earthchild Project.
The MC was Kia Johnson, an ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund SA.
The common thread from all the speakers was the call for individuals, organisations, and communities to support their efforts to save and protect Planet Earth.
And they made it clear just a few small steps could make a difference, from joining the next beach clean-up with the Beach Co-op, engaging with Earthchild Project to help under-resourced schools, or learning how to become a more discerning shopper, with the likes of Faithful to Nature.
Smith believes that most people would choose to shop ethically. “Given the right environment, the right conditions, and most importantly the right information, people would choose to buy products that were better for the environment and were not harmful to others.”
The organisation vets every ingredient in every product offered, and advocates for plastic-free products.
Given the amount of plastic found on our beaches and in our seas, plastic-free products gladden Omardien’s heart, and she spoke of how we all should do what we can to clean up plastic pollution on our coastline.
Fuyani joined the Earthchild Project after learning it would work with schools in Khayelitsha, where she grew up.
“One of the philosophies at Earthchild Project is that we are not separated from nature, and the way to cultivate this love and respect for Earth is to fall in love with yourself. Once you fall in love with yourself, it becomes really easy to fall in love with the natural world.”
Smith said: “By organising events such as Force of Nature, we would like to push ourselves – and others – to inspire change in people by providing knowledge on issues affecting the environment. We hope to reach many and bring light to environmental issues affecting South Africans.”
She said the plan was that Force of Nature would be held annually, with key opinion leaders sharing their knowledge on tackling climate change and offer preventative measures.