Prevent Pollution

Close your eyes and imagine a nature-rich place. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear? How do you feel? Do you see a clean landscape, an unmined mountain, a forest not a plantation, a lake or river full of diverse life, sewage drain-free beaches or open ocean? Do you filter out the litter that is often in even protected places: on land, foam on water, or the smells of sewage or industrial waste?


Pollution of the air, water, and land is built into the way humanity currently exists. “Contributors to poor air quality in South Africa include the mining and agricultural industry and coal burning.“  Poor air quality, unhealthy water and land all lead to ill-health and preventable death in people and other living beings. It is causing climate change.


For the Earth to be healthy and maintain its life-sustaining cycles, the air, water (fresh and ocean), and land needs to be clean, free of poisons, and undisturbed to allow the many, complex ecosystems to work.

Humanity needs a planet that is healthy and safe for all life. These needs for humanity and the Earth are so important that people and the Earth have rights. 


As nature journalers we can prevent and reduce pollution by: 

Choose supplies with the Environment in Mind

Do you use a pencil?

The first choice you make are between two types of pencils. The most commonly used are wooden, like the yellow pencil in the photo. These are widely available. The other type is a mechanical pencil. The red and black pencil in the photo is a mechanical pencil. A mechanical pencil does not need to be sharpened.

Wooden pencils need to be sharpened. You can do this with a sharp knife or a pencil sharpener.









Some pencil sharpeners have space to collect shavings. You can empty the shavings into a rubbish bin when it is full. 



If you use a knife or pencil sharpener like the pink one in the photo, you need to collect the shavings. You also need to dispose of them with other rubbish.

This is especially important if you are using coloured pencils or watercolours. They contain pigments or dyes. Some manufacturers include pigments that use heavy metals like cadmium, chromium, cobalt, nickel and others. If you are using old supplies, it is difficult to know what they contain. In the past, lead, arsenic and mercury were used to produce the desired pigments. It might look like a small amount, but it matters. Pigments are not meant to be eaten.  This might be small from a human perspective, but might be significant to an insect.


It is easiest to sharpen pencils directly into a bin. If you are outdoors, keep a bin with you.

Your bin can be a plastic or paper packet. Make this a standard part of your kit.


In the long-term, refillable pencils and pens can be less expensive and more environmentally friendly. However, they are more expensive when you first buy them. Also, consider how easily available refills are. If you are interested in trying refillable fountain pens, they are available online from a South African stationery company Write GEAR. Try Platinum Preppy, they are reliable and low-cost. Also, consider getting a converter or "eye-dropper" adaptor, if you are going to refill from a ink bottle rather than using cartridges. You can learn more about fountain pens here

Support Others in Reducing Pollution 

Plastic Pollution


Litter Booms

What is a litter boom?

Originally a large plastic pipe,

the Durban Green Corridors project uses eco-bricks.

These are made with two-litre plastic bottles packed

tightly with clean, dry, non-biodegradable waste.

The eco-bricks are wrapped in shade cloth,

making a barrier that traps floating waste.

“(O)n average litter booms collect between one and two tons of plastic a month.”

Litter booms also trap water hyacinth - a plant that over-runs ecosystems in South Africa.

Learn to recognise and report water hyacinth











Without litter booms Durban beaches look like this.



This, mostly plastic, pollution will end up back in the ocean or rivers.

Support this work against plastic pollution by contributing “materials to help build and install more litter booms around the uMngeni River and its tributaries.”

  • Shade cloth

  • Empty two-litre bottles, or

  • EcoBricks - two-litre bottles packed tightly with clean and dry, non-biodegradable waste.

To support the Litterboom project with contributions or donations

Contact Siphiwe Rakgabale on 031 322 6026


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Water Hyacinth

Photo by Wouter Hagens - Own work, Public Domain,

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Insects eating pencil shavings