SPAR Eastern Cape will use the annual Women’s Challenge in Port Elizabeth next month to create awareness of their Plastic Bag campaign launched on last night.
Thousands of runners, from young children to international-level athletes, will converge on Port Elizabeth’s beachfront in early May to celebrate the biggest 10km road race in the region.
With the Little Ladies’ race taking place on May 1, followed by the main event on May 5, the title sponsors want to use the opportunity to further promote the Plastic Bag campaign.
The Eastern Cape retailer declared war on plastic bags last week when they decided to take the initiative in trying to reduce the amount of plastic which is damaging the planet.
SPAR EC managing director Conrad Isaac said they wanted to change the public’s mind-set about using plastic bags.
With hundreds of millions of shopping bags in circulation, he said they could no longer ignore their accountability in what was becoming an increasingly dangerous situation.
“We believe that safeguarding our environment and the future are often spoken about but not much is done,” said Isaac.
“As the biggest food retailer in the Eastern Cape, I believe we have to take care of the health and wellbeing of the communities in which we operate.”
Now they are calling on all runners and supporters who are involved in the races next month to take on a challenge of another kind by supporting the Plastic Bag campaign and adopting alternative packaging options.
“We realise that hundreds of women who will be running next month are the same people who come through our stores on a daily basis,” said SPAR EC sponsorship and events manager Alan Stapleton.
“We want to encourage them to support us in this initiative. I think everyone realises what damage plastic is doing to our environment and this is a great opportunity to spread the word about what we are trying to do.”
Stapleton said they were looking at ways to reduce their reliance on plastic products at the Women’s Challenge.
“We realise that due to its popularity, races of this nature are dependent on certain products.
“We are sensitive to the situation and will be doing everything we can to limit any damage to the environment during the course of the two races.”
In describing the damage caused by plastic, Zwartkops Conservancy environmental officer Jenny Rump said the problem with plastic was that it was not biodegradable and, consequently, it never disappeared.
“All that happens is that it breaks up into smaller and smaller bits called micro plastic.
“Meanwhile the bigger pieces of plastic are eaten by animals who think it is food and more and more marine animals are being found with plastic in their stomachs.
“There was this tragic example of a whale found dead on an England shore. When they dissected it they found a huge amount of plastic tied all around its gut, which caused it to die.”