Local Heroes 2022: Cleaning up her suburb, one street at a time
A passion for cleaning up litter is why Simone Klassen has begun cleaning up the streets with the help of her team of “Litter Busters” one pavement at a time.
The co-founder of Ginger Love and one of 2022’s Local Hero winners, Klaasen, has taken 11 children under her wing to teach the valuable skill of environmental conservation.
“Every community should be teaching the next generation that we need to have a clean environment and look after our environment and the planet,” she said.
Explaining the Litter Buster initiative, Klaasen said: “The rule is every day 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.”
She said she noticed how certain suburbs in Buffalo City were cleaner than others and had the idea to rope in young children in her area to help.
“When I drive around in my community especially and compare it to different suburbs, you find some much cleaner than others.
“It’s not the municipality, it’s actually the people living in the suburbs — we have got to teach children to stop littering and stop dumping in the hopes that this will filter through to the adults.”
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.”
During the July school holidays, the Buster team would meet at Klaasen’s house every morning to walk their usual route down Adderley Crescent and onto Greenpoint Road.
We don’t do this for the accolades, but because we love it, we love our community.
Each child is provided with trash bags and plastic gloves and on average picks up eight bags of litter during every walk.
“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.”
A challenge for the group was the disappointment in seeing an area they had previously cleaned up go back to being littered with plastic and trash.
“We can go and pick up litter and the very next day its exactly the same.
“Sometimes it feels as if this is a lost cause, but I’ve told the little kids to never give up.
“This has been very well received by the community — I will always say that without the community we can’t do much, we need everyone to help.”
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.
My dream would be that every community has a Litter Busters, someone in every community to create a legacy of children knowing we don’t litter, we don’t dump, we look after areas, we recycle.
Riandro 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 said she hoped the project would inspire other suburbs to initiate their own similar divisions.
“My dream would be that every community has a Litter Busters, someone in every community to create a legacy of children knowing we don’t litter, we don’t dump, we look after areas, we recycle.
“The biggest vision I would love to see implemented is that every suburb has a Litter Busters division.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.