I usually turn a few heads when driving my Classic 1962 Beetle with my crazy dog out the window on the way to the beach. Then when I get there she leaps out the door howling with excitement leaving me coughing in the dust. But I’m not too far behind her armed with one glove on my right hand, a bag in the other and a pick up stick before I hit the pavement and sand to clean up the beach. Yep, people look at me thinking… that’s a cool car, a crazy dog or beach goer or all the above. Sometimes I get the ‘community service’ look…
But tonight I got a few more show stoppers than usual and all for good and bad reasons. After my 30min beach blitz I laid out the trash I collected from along the seawall and beach at The Spit, Gold Coast’s most northern ocean beach on the mainland. While my crazy dog was still saying hello to every person and dog in the car park, I was busy doing my thing sorting the trash. Then one, two, three, four people and soon a small crowd gathered around looking on wondering what I was doing. Firstly they were stoked that I had collected a bag of trash while enjoying a stroll on the beach, though, secondly were disgusted on what was found! Along their beach where they also leisurely walk, fish, surf and swim.
Who would leave their dog’s poo in a plastic bag on the beach? Who leaves their stubbies and cans in the dunes? Why would balloons wash up on the beach? And how did a bucket handle get to the beach?
These were all good questions that I was happy to answer, even share Tangaroa Blue Foundation’s Australian Marine Debris Initiative manual. I was able to show them how to ID the trash, then how to count what was collected and tally up the totals. But more importantly explain why I was collecting marine debris data and where it went, and its importance to enhance our understanding of marine debris impacts. In no time, being a veteran at counting trash I confirmed 99 items, separated the recycling to dispose of at home and binned the rest.
In one hour from door to door I had enjoyed a sunset, did my bit for the beach, entered the data online and my dog was happy and now tired (and got treats from the ‘cat’ lady). All it took was one hour out of my day. What can you do for your beach in 30mim or even an hour?
You can also be a Volunteer Ambassador for Responsible Runners, a Pulse up, Waste down initiative to reduce wastes ending up in waterways and the ocean. Connect with Responsible Runners to join a clean up or start your own.