Plans afoot to clean up beaches
The next time you pull on a pair of gumboots, ponder a few facts.
Gumboots can take 60 years to break down in water — a tin can may take 100 years and plastic bags a few decades.
“Fishing nylon and polystyrene never break down,” says Seaweek's HB regional coordinator Jake Brookie.
Plans for next year's Seaweek are progressing well Jake says, with many events including arts and crafts, guest speakers and public tours. But Jake has bigger plans.
“I am looking at the possibility of community groups ‘adopting' a section of coastline and conducting four beach cleans a year, each clean a couple of months apart,” he says.
The rubbish will then be photographed and notes taken about its origin, material and amount.
The aim is for a database of litter on the coastline to note any changing trends. Jake says the information would be collated and given to the councils, which are responsible for litter enforcement (local and regional councils), waste minimisation plans and rubbish collections (local councils) and the use of the coastline (regional councils).
“So the information would be of great use to them.”
The relevant councils and three community groups have so far agreed to sign up for the scheme.
Jake is hoping many more will join in, with the first clean up planned from early February to mid March.
The Cathedral Environment Justice and Peace Network is one group ready for action.
Coordinator Jenny Baker believes the highest priority must be to prevent rubbish, particularly plastic, from ever entering the sea.
“However it is also very important to remove the huge amount that already exists in our oceans, killing marine life and eventually grinding down to form toxic micro plastic.”
Jenny says collective action, one stretch of beach at a time, can help remove what the tide brings up every day.
“By assigning groups to areas we can ensure our local marine areas are covered for regular clean ups.” Jane Gardiner from Our Seas Our Future says her organisation is volunteer driven and aims to protect our oceans through advocacy, education and environmental stewardship.
Ruth Smithies from the Catholic Parish Care of Creation Group says although beach cleans don't change the world with its problems of pollution and environmental damage, they are tiny steps in the right direction.
“They call forth a goodness which, even if we don't see, is bound to spread."
Jake says the goal of the scheme is for the community to have a stronger feel of ownership of their beaches.
“We want cleaner coastlines and the councils get a closer idea of the pollution on their beaches.”
■ For more information email jakeecowa[email protected]
Participating in a beach clean up are (from left) Cathedral Environment Justice and Peace Network coordinator Jenny Baker, Seaweek regional coordinator for HB, Jake Brookie and Our Seas Our Future coordinator Jane Gardiner.