International Coastal Clean-up Day (ICC) took place on Saturday 19 September with millions of people from over 100 countries getting together to pick up litter, making it one of the largest one-day volunteer events in the world.
The movement was started 30 years ago by two committed ladies, Linda Maraniss and Katy O’Hara, who both worked at Ocean Conservancy. The idea behind the movement is that litter and debris collected by volunteers are documented to help identify ways to eliminate ocean trash in the future.
Several groups in the Overberg once again got involved, including Plastic Patrol, BirdLife Overberg, Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) and Overstrand Municipality. After the clean-ups, Plastics SA gathers all the information which is then fed into the global statistics held by Ocean Conservancy. The clean-ups also create awareness and educate people on the effects of littering and pollution.
Kim ‘Sharklady’ MacLean’s Plastic Patrol joined the ICC for the third time this year, with 93 volunteers who focused on cleaning the Hermanus New Harbour area, including among the bushes and rocks, in the water and on the seabed. The volunteers were made up of local individuals, local divers and divers from Dive Inn in Cape Town, members of the Mt Pleasant Saints Football Club (who won a prize for collecting the most litter), youngsters from Elonwabeni Children’s Home, staff from the Department of Public Works and Speaker of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, Masizole Mnqasela.
Once all the bags had been brought in by the volunteers, Denzil Bosman and the team from Ingomso Lelethu Recycling in Hermanus Industria carted away an astounding 40 bags containing 212 kg worth of litter!
Plastic Patrol cleans the waters in the New Harbour daily, and dives for litter on the seabed every weekend. They would like to thank their sponsors for the clean-up on Saturday: Plastics SA; Walker Bay Dive School for facilitating safe dives; Majestic Cruising; Peninsula Beverages/Coca-Cola and Pick n Pay Hermanus for the bags and collecting tools, cooldrink, water, cups and boerewors rolls which were given to the volunteers after the clean-up. They would also like to thank WildCat Inflatables for their new rubberduck which will also be used for future clean-ups.
BirdLife Overberg focused their efforts on the Cape Whale Coast Nature Reserve (Hoek van de Berg) coastline. The 14 volunteers managed to collect 16 bags of litter weighing 80 kg.
Among the items they collected were 137 pieces of fishing line and rope, 117 food wrappers, 98 plastic bottles, 295 condoms and wrappers, 5 cigarette butts and 182 small plastic pieces. They were excited to report that no balloons (the number one risk to seabirds) were found and that there was far less plastic compared to their first clean-up of the area in 2017. They will be hosting another clean-up of the area next month and hope to get this stretch of coastline ‘under control’ after it could not be cleaned during lockdown.
BirdLife Overberg would also like to thank Plastics SA for sponsoring bags and tongs and Pick n Pay for the items for the braai, which was held after the clean-up for all the volunteers.
Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT) partnered with the Overstrand Municipality for their clean-up at Danger Point near Gansbaai. A total of 71 volunteers joined, including Councillor Riana de Coning, media personality Liezl van der Westhuizen (who even gave the clean-up a mention on KFM), members of the VW Car Club and Overstrand Car Club, staff from Marine Dynamics, Dyer Island Cruises and the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS), students from DICT’s Environmental Education Programme (DEEP), as well as other dedicated supporters.
The group covered 2 km and collected 160 kg of litter, including a big blue crate, 658 plastic bottle caps, 588 plastic pieces, 470 glass pieces, 289 foam pieces and a large amount of building wood.
DICT would like to thank Benjamin Kondokter of the Overstrand Municipality for all the logistical arrangements, Nico van Schalkwyk for moving all the waste collected, everyone who volunteered, and the Overberg Rocks project for the specially painted rocks given to the DEEP students and some of the attending children.
According to Ocean Conservancy’s report, last year 10 337 880 plastic, foam and glass pieces measuring less than 2.5cm were collected. The top ten types of litter collected around the world were:
- food wrappers (4 771 602 pieces)
- cigarette butts (4 211 962 pieces)
- plastic beverage bottles (1 885 833)
- plastic bottle caps (1 500 523)
- straw/stirrers (942 992)
- plastic cups/plates (754 969)
- plastic grocery bags (740 290)
- plastic takeaway containers (678 312)
- other plastic bags (611 100)
- plastic lids (605 778)
This amounted to 9422 tons of trash collected over 39 358km. Some of the weirder finds included:
- a couch
- an ironing board
- a tiki torch
- a bathtub
- a rubber chicken
- a barbecue
- a gnome
- a fire hydrant