How can we tackle pollution?
With much of the vegetation burnt clean due to the fires it is becoming apparent how much rubbish has been dumped, thrown out or simply left everywhere close to human habitation, says Anel de Bruin from the Knysna Wildlife Fund.
“Take a drive up to Brenton or even Rheenendal, and you will notice anything from broken bottles to empty cigarette packets lying next to the road,” she says.
She relates that in an effort to clean up the rubbish, various community members in the Brenton area have arranged clean-up events, “but the sad thing is you would clean an area and a week later there would be new plastic and glass bottles, polystyrene containers and plastic packets lying everywhere”.
On 9 September, one such clean-up was organised by the Knysna Wildlife Project (KWP), but the whole thing was inspired by “an incredible pensioner” from the Brenton area, Gill Hogg.
Every single day, says De Bruin, Hogg takes a small bag, walks down to the beach and sifts through the sand picking up small pieces of plastic. She has witnessed many dead marine life on the beach, four seals, and six seabirds, among others. There was even an instance where a Cape Cormorant was caught up in fish gut: she waved down a gentleman runner on the beach, used his T-shirt to grab the bird and bit the fish gut off with her own teeth.
“The worst was when we actually walked down to the beach… To be honest I expected a few plastic bags and wondered if there would be enough ‘work’ if 50 people pitched up. Only six did. The reality when we got there was quite different. Thousands if not hundreds of thousands of little pieces of plastic is smothering this Blue Flag Beach. From bottle caps to earbuds, thousands of little round sea-eroded pieces of plastic, the size of a pinhead or smaller,” says De Bruin.
Considering that some plastic can take up to 1 000 years to biodegrade, these pieces of plastic is breaking up into smaller pieces creating a microscopic toxic sludge that is poisoning the marine life, she says.
“Entering the human food chain, plastic has been directly linked to anything from heart disease to Alzheimer’s,” De Bruin says.
“The time is now! Showing people the pollution on the beaches is only putting a plaster on a much bigger wound. It all starts at home with the opportunity to teach our children about the importance of fynbos, soil erosion and, more importantly, the pollution catastrophe that we are facing, and how it all starts at home,” she adds.
In association with the Knysna Wildlife Project, the Knysna Basin Project and Knysna Primary School another such effort was put together. On 26 September, the Grade 6 learners walked from Brenton to Buffalo Bay to clean up the plastic, while being educated. Louw Claassens from the Knysna Basin Project was on hand to do a quick presentation with the children.
“The amount of rubbish the kids collected was astounding and frankly very concerning, from canvas covers to camera stands, bottle caps to whole rubbish bins. These youngsters carried or dragged it all the way along the 7km stretch between Brenton and Buffalo Bay. Well done, guys!” commends De Bruin.
* More info: Anel de Bruin 082 610 2667.
The children from Knysna Primary School help clean the beach.
Louw Claassens from the Knysna Basin Project informs the children from Knysna Primary School of the dangers that plastic and other materials that end up in the ocean can cause.
Thousands of little round sea-eroded pieces of plastic, the size of a pinhead or smaller, are being found on beaches.