International Clean-Up day 2019
Today is world clean-up day, an event organised by Let’s Do It World (LDIW) that unites 157 countries in an attempt to clean our world’s beaches. Last year, over 18 million volunteers spent a total of 36 hours cleaning up beaches across the globe, beginning in New Zealand and ending in Hawaii. For the past 22 years, Plastics SA has been partnering with Ocean Conservancy by coordinating South Africa’s involvement in the annual International Coastal Cleanup Day. This annual event takes place on the third Saturday in September and sees thousands of volunteers each year collecting and removing litter from our waterways as part of Cleanup & Recycle SA week. This is the second year we participate in World Clean-up day, let’s try and make even more of a difference!
All levels of society, from citizens, to businesses and to the government, must get together and work in unity, helping to combat the global marine debris problem. Once collected, the trash is recorded, allowing us to find out the main contributors to the pollution of our oceans, what type of plastics are most common and which are the hot spots of marine debris.
Once recorded, the trash is sorted. The Ocean Conservancy encourages volunteers to separate the trash collected into recyclables, liquids, potentially hazardous materials and landfill items, checking with the local authorities how best to dispose of all that is collected. Otherwise, the rubbish may re-enter our oceans when not dealt with properly.
If we take no action to tackle the marine debris problem, there will be one pound of plastic for every 3 pounds of fish in the ocean within the next decade. With 100% of marine turtles and 59% of marine birds having already been recorded as having plastic in their stomachs, human communities must act now!
Although important, cleaning up our beaches simply isn’t enough, the problem lies in our lifestyles. The amount of trash we, as humans, produce and dispose of in the wrong way is extremely large, consider this example, over 1 million plastic cups are used in domestic flights alone in the USA over a period of 6 hours, that is a number so large that it becomes hard to even get your head around it. The amount of plastic used by us is unnecessarily high.
What can you do about it? Start simple, refuse using plastic bags at the supermarket, take your own reusable bag, purchase food products that are not wrapped in plastic and have a recycling bin at home. Once comfortable with this lifestyle, try and make bigger changes, volunteer with your local conservation agencies, do weekly beach clean ups in your area, spread the word! Every effort made, no matter how small, makes a difference.