The pollution of the world’s oceans is undoubtedly one of the biggest environmental challenges of our times. The magnitude of the disaster is so overwhelming, many of us just want to bury our heads in the beach sand.
Words by Andrea Abbot
But there is something practical that every beachgoer, from the youngest to the oldest, can do to make a real difference: simply pick up just ten pieces of rubbish each time we go to the beach.
Take Ten is an initiative that morphed from what was meant to be a beach clean-up day at Salt Rock on the KZN North Coast. Co-organisers, Carel Wagenaar and Duncan Pritchard realised that while a one-off event was better than nothing, a more continuous approach to beach litter is what’s needed.
An expanded version of the Australian Take-3 project, Take Ten not only encourages beach-goers to pick up trash but to also log the data on the Clean Swell app developed by the Ocean Conservancy. The information contributes to research on the environmental, social and economic impacts of waste in KZN. “The findings will be used to advocate policy changes and start a conversation with manufacturers to devise ways of limiting the disastrous impact of waste on the coastal ecosystem,” Carel says.
He adds that one of the most pervasive and lethal of all items picked up on beaches is the plastic bottle cap. “The effect of bottle caps on seabird populations is well documented. The birds mistake them for fish eggs. The caps end up in their stomachs. Eventually, the stomach is jammed with caps and the bird starves slowly and painfully to death.” With an estimated 90% of seabirds having plastic in their stomachs, this is a tragedy of global proportions.
Take Ten is still in its early days but Carel hopes that as the campaign evolves it will inspire coastal communities throughout the country to take similar steps to beat the trash disaster. “It would be great if South Africa’s entire 2100 km coastline was covered.”
Imagine that – our seas and beaches clear of rubbish.
Contact Carel at: 082 737 1065
Email: [email protected]