Arusha Times (Arusha)

Tanzania: Environment

Braeburn's Eco-friendly Solutions:

Not only is Braeburn the only school in Tanzania to be recognised by Carbon Tanzania as off-setting its bus trips and transport by planting trees, but the start of Roots and Shoots within the school has meant that the students are continually finding new ways to improve our environment.

After meeting Jane Goodall last year, a couple of students returned to school inspired and determined to make a difference. This year they started to educate the school on the problem with plastic. Did you know that nearly every plastic bag that has ever been used, since plastic was invented, still exists somewhere? That's quite a scary thought, especially as it takes 1000 years to degrade. And what's worse, is we keep on making it! Much of the plastic waste ends up buried where its poison continues to affect the soil and the things that we plant for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Other bags end up being swallowed by cows or other domestic or wild animals who then end up dying. Vast quantities fall into our rivers, streams and ultimately the sea - impacting on our coral reefs and killing valuable sea life. Our team of horrified school researchers discovered that the plastic bags found in the Pacific Ocean cover twice the area of the USA! We don't want this to happen to our Indian ocean.

The Roots and Shoots students at Braeburn have come up with a great idea of reducing the use of plastic bags. They have designed their very own eco-bag! It wraps up small and is made of local kanga material by local women from the Heshima charity in Kisongo. This organisation ensures that women are given training in textiles and when they are skilled enough to make some products, they are given a fair salary. Markets are found for the work that they produce and they in turn are able to enjoy some independence.

The bags sell for 12,000Tsh and for each bag sold, 2,000Tsh is spent on buying a tree. The Braeburn students plan to plant all the trees that they buy in the Kisongo area. They plan to work together with students in local schools to share the message of the importance of planting and not cutting down trees, to ensure a good future for us all. This fabulous project shows us that all of us, however small can make a difference. In the words of Wangari Mathai, "I'll be the humming bird, I'll do the best I can."

The Heshima project will be showcasing the eco-bags at the Arusha Christmas Fair this weekend - so if you are interested in supporting this project - make sure that you pass by and find out a little more.

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