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Litter Busters motivated to keep Buffalo Flats streets clean

Word spreads to the community as children join hands to take care of the environment

Founder of Ginger Love Simone Klaasen has been cleaning up litter off the streets of Buffalo Flats with her Litter Busters since the beginning of the school holidays. Klaasen has plans to clean up neglected parks and has been fundraising for the initiative from the community.
Founder of Ginger Love Simone Klaasen has been cleaning up litter off the streets of Buffalo Flats with her Litter Busters since the beginning of the school holidays. Klaasen has plans to clean up neglected parks and has been fundraising for the initiative from the community.
Image: ALAN EASON

The co-Founder of Ginger Love, Simone Klaasen, has taken 11 “Litter Busters” under her wing to clean up the streets of Buffalo Flats one pavement at a time.

Since the start of the school holidays, the group of eager youngsters aged eight to 12 have been meeting Klaasen outside her home in Melbourne Road for a day of activities. 

Explaining the initiative, Klaasen said: “The rule is every day is we go for a 3km walk, which is good for the body and the mind.

“Then we pick up litter before going back to my house where I make everyone a snack of toasted sandwiches.

“Afterwards, my daughter plays some kind of sport, like hockey or soccer, with the kids.”

We (Litter Busters) are spreading the love of the environment. We pick up litter so that it doesn’t spread around the community

Litter Buster Nazrio de Vos, 8, said: “We (Litter Busters) are spreading the love of the environment. We pick up litter so that it doesn’t spread around the community.” 

 Dispatch visited the Litter Busters and walked along their usual route down Adderley Crescent and onto Greenpoint Road on Wednesday. 

Each child was carrying a black trash bag and wore blue gloves while searching for litter. 

The Busters have collected over eight bags of refuse every day. 

“We don’t do this for the accolades, but because we love it, we love our community,” Klaasen said. “I’ve lived in Buffalo Flats all my life; we always want to give back.” 

Walking along the road and searching for plastics tossed along the pavements was transformed into a game, with boys pointing to pieces of rubbish and calling to their friends excitedly.

“What’s the rule? Always walk in front of me so I can see you,” Klaasen said as she shepherded the gang along the quiet street.

I’m determined that we are going to create change. These are kids coming from trauma and this is bringing some happiness to their lives

Litter Busters started with one boy, Riandro “Miles” Fredericks, 10, from Buffalo Flats who spread the word to other children in the area. 

“I do crazy things,” Klaasen said. “I met these kids two weeks ago and I started doing walks with Miles, who brought his friend, who brought a cousin.

“I’m determined that we are going to create change. These are kids coming from trauma and this is bringing some happiness to their lives.” 

Each child has also adopted and named one of the palm trees along Greenpoint Road, with a responsibility to keep it clean. 

Fredericks said: “My palm tree’s name is auntie Jenny and it’s outside my house. It’s sad when we clean up a place and go back and it’s all dirty again. But we will keep doing this for as long as it takes.” 

Klaasen’s daughter and sportswoman Luché Klaasen, 27, said she had grown attached to the Litter Busters after spending the afternoons coaching them.

For most, they have to deal with alcoholism and addiction in the family and we wanted to show them that there is happiness and good in the world, too

“It’s nice to see them happy and playing soccer, hockey or tennis,” she said. “For most, they have to deal with alcoholism and addiction in the family and we wanted to show them that there is happiness and good in the world, too.”

The daily walk ends at a lookout point over the Buffalo River on Chadwick Crescent, which Klassen has nicknamed the cliffs of Buffalo Flats. 

“I bring the kids here to breathe, to take in the beauty of the river and nature. This is what we are fighting for, the environment.” 

Klaasen and her Litter Busters will be joined by community members for Mandela Day to clear up an old abandoned park and play area near her home. 

“It’s a treat for the Litter Busters to come and play in the park, but it’s full of rubbish,” she said.

“The equipment is all broken, so we hope to fix it up. The long-term goal is to restore the equipment, but first we will make it a safe and clean space for them to play in.”

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