One of East Africa’s biggest corporate law firms, ALN Kenya | Anjarwalla & Khanna (A&K), has thrown its weight behind a cross-border initiative to stop the use of single-use plastics. From March 8 to 29 the initiative will see a dhow made of plastic waste cross Lake Victoria to spread the message to the people living on its shores.
The organisation behind the project is the Flipflopi Project Foundation, a “movement for change”, and which A&K has been supporting by doing legal work pro-bono.
A&K lawyers have been advising the Flipflopi Project on the legislative process in the East African Community and the introduction of a legislative framework to ban the use of single-use plastics across the region. The unsung legal heroes from A&K are Senior Associate, Abbas Esmail, Associate Hulda Ateka and trainee lawyer, Wanjiku Murage.
Karim Anjarwalla, Managing Partner at A&K, said the law firm had embraced the Flipflopi #PlasticRevolution project because it provided a platform to spark conversation around the damage single-use plastics were doing to one of the world’s most important ecosystems.
“Our lawyers’ skills often make a crucial difference for organisations that deal with social priorities. Matching the needs of social organisations like the Filipflopi Foundation with lawyers who dedicate their time to pro bono work, is one of our goals.”
For the law firm, being involved in the project has meant a fundamental change in the way things are done in their offices.
“We have significantly reduced our use of single-use plastic. One such measure has been replacing plastic Tupperware with reusable glass and aluminium/steel bottles and containers for our client meetings and events.”
“We also offer lunch to our staff, which reduces their reliance on meals provided by food vendors who typically use single-use plastic packaging.”
“Additionally, seeing as face masks are an effective tool in reducing the spread of COVID-19, one of the best ways to reduce our waste and protect our staff and clients is by providing and encouraging the wearing of reusable cloth masks - a safe and stylish solution to plastic pollution.”
The firm has also placed waste bins strategically within the office premises to collect and safely dispose of single-use masks and gloves which would otherwise find their way in landfills or simply be littered on the streets.
Karim said law firms could contribute to the conservation sector by offering their expertise and assistance to social enterprises and non-profit organisations that were working towards advancing a more sustainable world.
“They can inspire their own people and communities through the power of their action.”
The Lake Victoria Expedition will include Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Also involved is the United Kingdom through the support of the UK High Commissioner for Kenya, the United Nations Environment Programme and the three country’s governments.
The main aim is to bring the world’s attention to the ‘upstream’ impacts of pollution on freshwater ecosystems like Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake and the source of the Nile, and highlight East African positive leadership on the issue.
“At A&K, we are very deliberate about leveraging our unique position as a full-service law firm and our pan African reach, through the ALN network, to transform our continent for the better by making tangible legislative contributions to positive social and environmental changes and by promoting the rule of law by developing strong links with the communities in which we work,” Karim said.
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