Clean Up Kenya launches a reusable bottle campaign in Nairobi

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Clean Up Kenya Country Director, Monicah Ngatia, has launched a reusable bottle campaign in Nairobi, Kenya. This advocacy campaign is aimed at encouraging members of the public to carry reusable water bottles instead of buying water and other drinks in single-use plastic bottles in a bid to help reduce plastic pollution. The use of reusable water bottles is very low in Kenya with only one in every twenty persons regularly using such a bottle according to unpublished data collected by Clean Up Kenya from 1029 respondents from across the country.

Also attending the low-key bottle launch event due to Corvid pandemic protocols were Clean Up Kenya Founder and Patron, Betterman Simidi, and Debbie Oyugi Kids Founder and Chief Executive Officer, international model and children mentor Debbie Oyugi. Children from Debbie Oyugi Kids and Atlas FC became the first beneficiaries of the Clean Up Kenya bottle campaign.

The launch was symbolically done at Michuki Park in downtown Nairobi. The park is named after the celebrated late Kenyan Environment Minister, Mr. John Michuki, who was a champion of the environment.

The bottle campaign will see Clean Up Kenya distribute on our own or through partners thousands of reusable water bottles to members of the public in the coming months.

The campaign also seeks to influence public policy on the widespread use of reusable water bottles. Speaking at the launch, Betterman Simidi stated that Clean Up Kenya will soon write to the Cabinet Secretary of Education requesting the Government of Kenya to provide these bottles to every school-going child as part of the Free Primary Education (FPE) program.

Betterman also noted, “Youths are ‘influencers’, especially on social media. If we can get enough refillable water bottles in their hands, we can quickly increase knowledge on single-use plastic bottles as an environmental menace and inspire positive peer pressure and behavioral changes among this demographic.”

Debbie Oyugi said of the partnership with Clean Up Kenya, “This program is working. As someone who has seen over 500 children from Debbie Oyugi Kids participates in the program, I can give specific examples of how I have seen the children impacted.” She gave an example of how she had seen the children intervene to stop littering by a pedestrian in Nairobi.

Other areas where Clean Up Kenya hopes to intervene with the bottle campaign include high schools, colleges, and universities which can make it standard practice for their students to own a refillable water bottle as part of an admission process. Companies can also provide these to their employees as well to others through their Corporate Social Responsibility programs.  

Research conducted by Clean Up Kenya has revealed that individuals can prevent up to 13 kilograms of plastic bottle waste from ending up in the environment if they use a reusable water bottle regularly for a year.

Plastic bottles particularly that of water, continues to be the most littered piece of trash in Kenya. With a lack of bins for proper disposal and an effective collection system, only a very small fraction of the bottles are ever recycled, and instead, most of them end up in the environment including in marine bodies or undergo open air incineration at Kenya’s dumpsites. This burning of plastics causes tremendous air pollution leading to many health issues to those who live near dumpsites.

The campaign also has a health benefit particularly among children who often can be dehydrated during the day and may not have easy access to clean water while away from their homes. The bottle can therefore encourage the intake of the recommended World Health Organization (WHO) daily water intake and lead to more healthy and active children. 

We believe this campaign is not only good for the environment but also good for the health of the nation.

This is the first major program Monicah Ngatia will be overseeing after being appointed as Clean Up Kenya Country Director in September 2020.

Monicah Ngatia speaks at the launch of the bottle campaign

Martin Muriithi, Clean up Kenya Advisory Board Chairperson has observed, “We hope more organizations, far and wide will join and support this campaign.’

Monica has explained that the bottles which will be majorly distributed to the public by Clean Up Kenya will be customized. They will have the individual’s name on them and are returnable for a replacement and for recycling when they reach their end of life which is approximately between two to three years.

To benefit from this campaign, beneficiaries will be required to join #CleanUpKenyaCoalition through an online platform we launched in 2019 and which currently has over 3500 members.

The part of the campaign targeting children is being run in partnership with Debbie Oyugi Kids, an international child and teen modeling and mentoring agency based in Nairobi.

Fifteen initial beneficiaries, thousands more to benefit in coming months

This article was first published as a launch announcement and has since been updated

ABOUT CLEAN UP KENYA

Established in 2015, Clean Up Kenya is a national advocacy organization working to hold to account government duty bodies, state officers, corporations, green-washing Non-Governmental Organizations, and domestic and commercial polluters for Kenya’s public sanitation crisis. We primarily work with communities to advance their rights to sustainable public sanitation. As experts in community mobilizing for cleanups, we have conducted numerous projects across the country with some being attended by over 1000 volunteers. At the core of our work is honest and actual involvement in communities – not PR events. We receive no funding for our work but collaborate with other like-minded organizations both nationally and internationally on projects.