Our Adopt a Beach is yielding interesting collaborations – and this is only the start of a cleaner beach environment.
The Adopt a Beach concept is simple: we started with six local Durban beach sites. A co-ordinator at each clean-up is supported by three sponsored assistants, and this team is in charge of set-up, welcoming volunteers, cleaning and waste management. We aim to recycle what we can and leave only landfill waste which municipality collects.
Connecting with fellow water and beach lovers is key for us – meaning we get the support of clubs and individuals.
When the team arrived to set up for a recent beach clean-up, the municipality had already swept through the beaches. However, at Battery Beach a different scenario faced the Pirates team. SBS Tanks constructed sieves to sift the sand revealing little pieces of waste that lay trapped just beneath the surface.
Durbanites Against Plastic Pollution’s Steve Cohen explains more: “We undertook a rapid citizen survey of a 30m² area along the high tide mark. Even though the beach is cleaned daily by the municipality, the survey did however find an abundance of small pieces of plastic. Most of the items are “problem plastics” which we define as the most commonly found items in the environment with few benefits to society.
The most common items were nurdles, pieces of polystyrene foam from take-out containers, earbuds, sucker sticks, plastic cutlery and a multitude of fragments from common household plastic items that had broken up over time.
Plastic litter and mismanaged plastic waste from drinks, snacks and personal hygiene items accumulates on the beaches and in the sea. Plastic never breaks down – instead, it breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces, causing harm and lasting hundreds of years in the environment.
We advocate that many of the above-mentioned items – like earbuds and polystyrene containers – should be banned or taken off our supermarket shelves. Likewise, bottle caps should be affixed to bottles by law, and returned with the bottle in a city-wide deposit-return scheme.
We look forward to continuing these surveys and using the data to lobby the government and retailers to reform their policies and practices respectively.