Get involved

Naturalising your neighbourhood

All open space in our city, not just private gardens, should be planted with indigenous plants. Encourage naturalisation of public open spaces, for example by replacing grassy verges with indigenous shrubs and bulbs. You could also get involved with encouraging schools to start indigenous gardens around playgrounds and field edges. Local businesses may be interested in sponsoring such projects.

Working towards a chemical-free city

Chemicals are often poisonous (pesticides, herbicides, paraffin and diesel) and corrosive (car battery acid, drain and oven cleaners or bleach). Such substances are hard for a natural system to break down and can damage the natural system which they come into contact with – poisoning animals for which they were not intended, poisoning water systems and plants.

Avoid using harsh chemicals in your garden. Explore the alternatives described under ‘Pest Control’ at the end of the Waste chapter in this book. Always remember that an indigenous garden will require little pest control as it has developed in parallel with local animals and insects and operates as one system with these.

When shopping, be sure to buy products that are free of hazardous chemicals. This means you will avoid creating the problem in the frst place! Read product labels closely so that you are aware of what is in a product and select the least harmful alternative.

The Waste section of Go green provides some interesting alternatives with which you can replace conventional cleaning and other products and some useful hints as to which chemicals/products to avoid.

Always take chemicals, used oil or any other unnatural substance to a City Solid Waste drop-off site or other formal collection point (used oil can be taken to any garage/service station where it will be collected for recycling by the ROSE Foundation). These must not be thrown down drains or into the street. Any chemicals thrown into the drain and stormwater system end up in our rivers, estuaries and oceans, killing and destroying many plants and animals.

Keep your neighbourhood clean and free of environmental harm

Garden, household and building refuse should be taken to your local Solid Waste drop-off zone (see Waste section). Dumping such waste in the veld is one of the many ways in which our natural areas are degrading. Building rubble may crush natural vegetation. Garden refuse contains invasive plant matter, such as Kikuyu grass, which will then invade the veld.

It is extremely important not to leave, or throw, broken glass in the veld. This can concentrate sunlight onto a spot and lead to fires. Dumping waste in the veld, or on any open lot is an offence. If you see someone dumping please contact the Metro Police on (021) 596 1999 to report the incident.

Any paper, plastic or other rubbish thrown into the street, onto the ground or anywhere that is not a designated refuse place is known as ’litter’. All litter that ends up in natural areas, and plastic in particular, is very detrimental to animals.  Many seals end up with plastic bags wrapped around their necks, which cuts into
their skin and kills them.

The City provides a waste removal service to all households. Use this service for any waste that you cannot recycle!

Do not drive your car or truck on the beach (note that the Off-road Vehicle Regulations prohibit this unless you have an exemption or permit), or in natural areas.  If you own a motorcycle or quad bike, ride only in properly designated areas that have been set aside for this activity.

Involve yourself in local environmental initiatives

Managing our natural world is everybody’s responsibility and much of the work is done on a volunteer basis. While this may not provide any financial reward, there are huge paybacks for people who become involved in environmental volunteer groups. Such work will encourage you to get out of doors to enjoy our wonderful natural heritage. It is a sociable activity that builds a sense of community.

Cape Town has a very active network of environmental clubs, societies and groups, such as the Cape Bird Club, a branch of Birdlife SA, and an urban agriculture and greening organisation called Abalimi Bezekhaya. Most of Cape Town’s nature reserves have active friends' groups (e.g. Friends of Rietvlei) that help manage the nature reserve and do a wide range of volunteer work that includes invasive alien clearing, education and awareness raising, litter removal and maintenance.

These groups fall within WESSA – the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa – South Africa’s oldest and largest non-governmental, membership-based environmental organisation whose mission is to promote public participation in caring for the earth. WESSA also supports and encourages the establishment of environmental clubs and local environmental stewardship through its branches. 

source: SMART Living Handbook

Other biodiversity topics

Biodiversity home
Local biodiversity facts
Tackling invasive aliens
Biodiversity contacts and resources

Get practical

Quiz: how biodiversity friendly are you?
Plant an indigenous garden

Go green home