This week’s post is a little bit of a negative one. A few weeks ago at one of our Full Tide/ECO Clean Beach monthly beach clean-ups, one of our volunteers had an experience that left a sour taste in all of our mouths. It was Clean Up Australia Day, a day where people who may not usually be interested in conserving our ocean tend to pick up their act, and some rubbish, for one day of the year. However not everyone had this attitude, and when we saw who they were, it was incredibly surprising.
Without dobbing anyone in, there was a large meet-up of some sort of surf life-savers and board-riders of all ages down at Mooloolaba Beach. Whilst walking past the group and collecting rubbish, our vollie noticed the absolute mess they were making of the place, there was rubbish everywhere! He approached them, and in a friendly manner reminded them that it was Clean Up Australia Day and could they please clean up their rubbish before they leave. After all, they were surf life-savers, obviously they loved the beach, and wouldn’t you want to look after your livelihood?
Well that was his mistake. A few of the older men started abusing him, swearing profusely and claiming “they had been surfing this beach before he was born.” Firstly, how does the length of time you’ve enjoyed a beach give you the right to dump your rubbish on it? Secondly, what kind of example is that setting for the many kids that were present; that it’s okay to trash the environment and okay to abuse anyone trying to do the right thing?
Our society is in desperate need of a complete culture shift. Everyone is perfectly happy to use the beach; to surf and swim and walk there, but nobody wants the responsibility of keeping it healthy. Yet when our beaches become trashed and our ocean dirty and unhealthy, these people will be the first to point the finger at others. Well it is ALL of our responsibility to protect what we love, if we want it to have a future. It is our responsibility to pick up our own rubbish, to make conscious consumer decisions, and to educate others to do the same.