This Saturday 19th September is International Coastal Cleanup Day, which raises awareness of preserving and protecting the world’s oceans. The French explorer and marine-conservation pioneer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, said: “Water and Air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends have become global garbage cans.” And never before have his words rung more true. According to expert calculations, there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean.Where is it all coming from, and what can we do to stop it? Litter prevention is a priority. We’ve been officially told not to litter for over half a century now. The first public service announcement for litter prevention ran back in 1956 in America and efforts to highlight anti-littering campaigns and ongoing community education must be kept up.
Morukuru Ocean House and Morukuru Beach Lodge are both situated within the De Hoop Nature Reserve, but this protected location doesn’t mean our beaches are exempt from litter. When our guides and guests are out on marine walks, they actively collect rubbish and plastic debris. But this alone is not enough to tackle the scourge of litterbugs. So the Morukuru Goodwill Foundation (MGWF) decided to join forces with our local Ouplaas Primary School to tackle a beach cleanup.
Twenty five Grade 6 and 7 pupils volunteered to help, and this outreach programme was an opportunity to discuss the effect pollution has not only on beaches and oceans but also the environment in general. The school children learnt that some plastic lands up in our oceans by being directly dumped into the sea or by being carried by the wind, rain and floods; other everyday plastic also ends up in the sea because garbage is not correctly secured or recycling is ignored.We can all make a difference to the crisis of ocean pollution by thinking about our use of plastic and particularly how we dispose of this toxic substance. The most common types of rubbish collected included cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic straws, plastic bottle caps, and plastic beverage bottles. Plastic is especially harmful as it is non-biodegradable. The weather and UV rays makes these plastics break down into tiny pieces, which then get infiltrated into the environment. The result is a negative effect on the ecosystem. One way to get started is to stop using single-use plastics because using less plastic means less likelihood that it will land up in the ocean. Think about giving up bottled water, carry reusable shopping bags and choose milk in returnable glass bottle. Say “no” to plastic straws and use an eco-friendly travel coffee mug for your daily coffee takeaway. Choose a few that seem doable, and that will make the most impact. No one can do it all at once. But we can all get started!