Updated: Mar 3, 2019
On Saturday 2nd March I had the pleasure in photographing an event to kick off Seaweek at Sumner Beach. First time I had gone to such an event. When I first arrived at the beach I did wonder how much litter there was going to be as it did look at first glance, pretty clean.
The event was casual but as you started looking for rubbish, the clean up became intense. It was great to see so many people turn out for it of all ages. It really is one for all generations. I noticed a lot of people had ventured over to the sand dunes and small reserve area. When I headed over I soon realised why. The scene was the mess of what looked like an after party. Bottles galore and cigarette butts everywhere!! I was shocked that just metres off the beautiful beach was this terrible hidden nightmare. It isn't like there is a lack of bins around the path by the beach but laziness kicks in for a lot. I mean, they have to walk past the bin to get to their vehicles but why carry your rubbish, someone else will pick it up?!
After speaking to a few people wandering around grabbing images and collecting rubbish, they were even shocked at how much can be in one place. But the worst was come....
Not only were we looking for your large rubbish like bottles, wrappers or getting smaller to cigarette butts but we was looking for what I thought was just coarse sand. How wrong I was!!
So here is a picture of well...my feet but about in the middle of this image is a killer to marine life and birds. Can you see it??
Can you see it now? Fish and birds see it as food which then clogs up their stomach and intestines. I will get closer and see if you can spot it....
How about now?
Can you see the small white spherical pearl looking thing in the middle of this image? This is a tiny plastic micro bead called a 'nurdle'. These come from the shower gels or facial washes that we once used on ourselves in the shower. There was also a container that fell off a ship containing ALOT of these. These are melted and used to make plastics that we see everyday around us. These are washing up on our shores and in our rivers. Once you see them, you spot them every step you take. At one point, whilst swiveling on one foot, I collected up to 20 beads in a small radius! Now imagine that across a whole beach?!
They are very tiny, about 2mm in size. About the size of a split red lentil. Mostly clear but also in black, blue or white. We could have found over 100 and it still wouldn't make a dent in what would still be on the beach. Hard to fathom that if we don't act now, species of marine life could become extinct and we would be walking on plastic beaches, not the beautiful golden sands we normally see.
It was also great to see and meet the people getting involved. I met two sets of french tourists during the clean up on work visa/working holiday visas who love this country and all its beauty so much, they volunteered THEIR time to help clean up OUR beaches. These are people who are here temporarily living. I just wish more New Zealanders who were born and raised here cared just as much too!
Among the rubbish collect was some weird, strange and shocking items! Someone recovered a used syringe with the needle still attached! This was around the sand dunes near the reserve. Someone found a beach volleyball, what looks like a door off a boat, irrigation pipe and this...
Can you guess what this item is that was left behind...??
Did you work out what it was? I will reveal towards the end.
The guys who were there running the event did an amazing job in organising it. Ruby who was the coordinator was great to work with. The whole team was great. They all made everyone aware of the micro beads and a bit of where they have come from. Also at the event was a fantastic business called 'The Rubbish Whisperers'. Their stall had bamboo brushes, toothbrushes, bees wax food wrappers, collapsible coffee cups (which are brilliant!) and reusable water balloons. The balloons worked perfectly. They are reusable, throw well and hold a lot of water so you can throw them a few times before having to re-soak. I was even more impressed by their collapsible coffee cups. I had only been speaking to my wife days earlier about how bulky it is if you were to carry a reusable coffee cup just to have your take out but these cups collapse down to 4.5cm thick! They fit right in your pocket or bag with ease. Whats more, they don't leak! These are an absolute game changer to the take away coffee world! Check them out online at https://rubbishwhisperer.co.nz/
So, with the 1pm deadline to be back at base so the rubbish could be sorted, there was still a good few people out collecting. People had returned with full bags with all sorts. Some were returning with their second bag! The amount of rubbish was stacking up. You expected this from maybe a small market in the rural suburbs. Not from a beach! I would have to estimate there would have been at one point over 20 bags full of trash.
Overall it was a great day. It felt very positive to be involved with something helping the planet and also that there was also a good number of people who took a couple hours of their day to help. Working on a beach in the beautiful weather can't be scoffed at right?! What we did will have made a small change in the world but it is a start. It takes a ripple of an idea to make a wave in a big pond. If you are walking, take a carrier bag and collect rubbish as you go. It doesn't put you out and makes you feel good about yourself, and your day. Every little helps!
Now, did you guess what the pink flower object was that was left behind on the beach??
It was a body board. Looks in good condition doesn't it? That is because it is. The only damage to it and the only reason we can (can't) believe it was left behind was because the strap to be attached it to your wrist had broken. Board was in perfect condition. Such a waste!
Thank you to everyone who joined in the beach clean up. Be more pro active. Just picking up 3 items of rubbish a day can help massively.
"With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you're connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live. Most of the oxygen in the atmosphere is generated by the sea" - Sylvia Earle