Be Prepared for Life

Activity Kit Two:
"At home in the City"

Part 1. Living on Clean Street


Rubbish is the solid waste that families and shopkeepers have to dispose of each day. There would be a smaller litter problem if wastes were properly stored until collected and safely got rid of.

The wind spreads loose rubbish all over the streets. People get careless and lazy, the street is littered with personal waste - bus tickets, matches, cans, glass and plastic bags. Where people spend more time litter 'hot spots' develop - at sports grounds, stations, bus halts, on pavements, in parking areas, outside cafes, behind supermarkets, and on picnic sites.

RUBBISH in the hands of the care-less becomes LITTER!

Most rubbish consists of light paper and plastic bags, but that's not the problem!


It's the manufacturers who make no provision to recycle their containers and the users who allow this rubbish to lie in the streets and be spread about. South Africans are less litter aware than many other nationalities. We can walk on it without even noticing how dirty our city streets are. Whose to blame?

The person who makes the waste or the person who spreads it around?

Project 1: Clean it up - a fresh start

In Kit 1 (Project 1, 2, and 3) we saw how to reduce the amount of rubbish we throw away at home - and this will help! This is not enough to clean the street world! We will have reach the 'litter bug', the 'litter blind' and the litter to keep our street clean. If we want a cleaner street we must find the litter 'hot spots', pick up all litter and advertise the fact.


Analyse the nature of your street litter.
  • Where does it comes from?
  • Why does it come from that source?
Draw a street plan of your area.
Mark in these litter spots in red, advertise your findings in the window of a sympathetic shopkeeper, library notice board or municipal offices - NEAR TO THE HOT SPOT.

MAKE YOUR NEIGHBOURS LITTER-CONSCIOUS. Prepare a small information leaflet on street litter and take a copy to every home near the hot spots. [See Kit 1 Project 2]. Include hints on how to reduce street litter.

[Example: Put a teaspoon of household ammonia inside garbage bags that are being raided by dogs. For more information write to: Keep South Africa Beautiful, P.O. Box 1514, Randburg 2125.]

Tell your neighbours of the date and time of the street clean up and invite them to join you for five minutes when the street clean-up reaches their home.

Take BEFORE, DURING and AFTER photographs.

Get the permission of your municipality to remove all old posters along the routes.

Ask them to supply garbage bags and a bulk collection service on the day.

Advertise the clean-up in your local newspaper and display the photographs in the window of a sympathetic chemist or supermarket.

Take another set of photographs one month later, street by street, and display them as CLEANED UP and KEPT CLEAN in the same window.

Visit every home on CLEAN STREET and congratulate the home owners. Ask the local press to take photographs of CLEAN STREET with your clean-up group.

- you may need to ask a supermarket to sponsor you.

This project is varied by ...
painting bright flowers on the waste bins making people more aware of their positions.
writing to the authorities to have large unsightly items (rubble, abandoned car wrecks) removed and damaged bins replaced.


Sometimes one person's rubbish is another person's treasure! Recycling is only one of the ways to make money from rubbish. There's an even better way - REUSING!

Using something twice means saving money by not buying more of what you already have enough of. Attics, storerooms and garages may be full of your 'rubbish' which would really excite someone else who needs it and could purchase it cheaply second-hand.

Project 2: Use it twice

What does your community buy a lot of?

Clothing, toys, books, magazines, appliances,used furniture, bicycles, sports equipment, car / household and garden tools, old cups, costume jewellery etc.

There may be a lot of these items in boxes and rooms that people just don't know what to do with and would welcome the space and a bit of cash, but don't want to sell it directly themselves.


  • Visit homes in your streets in advance to advertise the sale and offer to sell unwanted items on for a commission.
  • Advertise the sale in shop windows and the local press.
  • Label all items with identification number and price and keep a register.
  • Return unsold items and cash due less deduction of agreed commission as soon as possible.
  • You might offer a 'garage cleaning service' as part of your Patrol fund raising activities.
  • There will be less 'stored waste' and more pride in your street community.

The 'garage clean-up' could boost local recycling of paper, and glass. If there is no 'bottle bank' provided in your area for the collection of waste glass, contact your councillor or supermarket manager and ask them to place a local 'bottle bank' to encourage local glass recycling.

[For more information write to: The Glass Recycling Association P.O. Box 562, Germiston 1400 / P.O. Box 104, Bellville 7535 / P.O. Box 2881, Durban 4000.]

Project 3: Fix it up

If your garage sale experience suggests there might be lot of old damaged furniture in your community, start a FIX-IT WORKSHOP run by senior citizens who need something to do. [You can learn life skills just watching.]

Your Patrol could collect unwanted furniture eg. wooden chairs for mending, re-upholstering, varnishing or painting and a gifted senior citizen could organise the workshop on your behalf.

Invite the public to watch and sell tea and coffee to visitors.

Organise a 'street sale' to cover costs and support the needy elderly in your area.

Advertise your workshop in the local press.

Extend this project to repairing simple electrical appliances and servicing lawn mowers for their owners.

Project 4: Burn it

Almost 50% of the rubbish that arrives at garbage dumps is paper or plastic which is rich in energy, and can be burnt. Burning it in our homes to warm water or cook food may save valuable trees. Newsprint, food packaging and carrier bags can be used as fuel. Cardboard cartons can be burnt in the right sort of stove.


Loose paper and plastic materials burn quickly but with not enough heat to boil water or cook food.

By compressing paper and plastic you can make a fuel that burns more slowly and holds its heat much longer.

Make a paper ball by soaking a single double sheet of newspaper for a minute in a bucket containing a liter of water. These balls can be strengthened by adding a half cup of flour to the water to make a thin flour paste. Squeeze the extra paste back into the bucket for reuse. Place the wet compressed balls in a sunny spot to dry out completely.

Plastic wrapping can be twisted into balls inside a carrier bag.

This 'waste' fuel will burn in a stove that maintains a good draught of air to keep the fuel alight.

Design your own stove for burning waste effectively. [Good ideas can be found in: Veld Lore. No.3. Camp Cooking. Vic Clapham. 1987.]

Cardboard boxes can be flattened and burnt in a larger version of this stove.

Display your stove designs in a public place such as a shop window.

The less paper waste around, the less litter;
the less litter, the cleaner the street.

Project 5: On the wall

Is graffiti a problem in your area? It is difficult to promote a clean community in the presence of these disfiguring scrawls.

There are two possible solutions...

  1. Ask the home owner or municipality to supply paint for masking graffiti visible from the street and provide a work party to repaint the defaced wall.
  2. Where this doesn't solve the problem ask permission to repaint the wall as a community wall mural.
Ask a local paint dealer to supply the paints, brushes and solvents for the mural.

Advertise the event and the sponsor in the local press and invite the people in your street and the sponsor to come and help paint the mural. It will build a sense of community ownership and pride.

Many adults and children are longing to paint some picture on a wall and this could be a wonderful opportunity for your group to meet the people who care most about the street.

Ask a town councillor to introduce 'the wall' to the press.


Part Two: Living on Green Street

© Copyright 1991 - 1994
Dr Frank Opie for the South African Scout Association