A few months ago now, we held the launch of the ECO Clean Beach Initiative at Mooloolaba Beach. The event was held in conjunction with local initiative, Full Tide, who hold monthly beach clean-ups here on the Sunshine Coast. Full Tide is not an environmental organisation, it is a ritual, it is the completion of a balanced connection and the beginning of a true relationship with the ocean. Like ECO Clean Beach, Full tide is aimed at keeping the local beaches and waterways of the Sunshine Coast clean. However, this campaign focuses primarily on surfers and daily beach users. It is based around the idea that the ocean gives so much to surfers, which is why Full Tide encourages surfers to give back by taking a piece of rubbish as they leave the beach. In doing this they have established a balanced relationship with the ocean.
Since the launch, ECO Clean Beach has been helping out at Full Tide’s beach clean-ups; which attract a range of people of all ages and walks of life. At the end of the clean-up, Full Tide founder, Ryan Delaney, and myself count and document every bit of rubbish that is collected. This data is then sent to the Australian Marine Debris Database, who use the information to work out plans of action to combat litter.
Whilst counting, we often saw the same objects appearing over and over again. In particular, we kept finding paper receipts, plastic cutlery, salt sachets, coffee cups and plastic water bottles. These are all things that can be easily eliminated with the help of a few committed shop owners. So we got to thinking, what can we do to inform the local community of the negative impact of their decisions? We decided our best plan of attack was to put together a brochure, a collection of information that could educate shop owners and suggest ways they can help to keep our oceans clean. We plan to distribute these brochures to shops along our coastline, to offer them alternatives to their current negative practices.
It is always shocking just how much rubbish we collect from seemingly “clean” beaches. It’s scary that this is how we treat something that we supposedly love so much. There is absolutely no excuse for littering. It doesn’t matter if we’re children, teenagers, or adults; we ALL have a responsibility to look after our environment, our beaches, our community.
When you throw something away, there is no “away.” Rubbish doesn’t just disappear because you left it behind. Ultimately, every piece of litter ends up in waterways, which eventually leads to the ocean. When we all step up together, as a community, we have the power to change things in unimaginable ways. It’s time to change society’s mindset. It’s time to clean up our act and it’s time to clean up our beaches.