- photo taken by: @petestmyname
- location: Milnerton Lagoon Beach
Cape Town beach covered in trash
My dear friend Pete saw a beautiful rainbow today on his way to work. He decided to pull over to get the perfect picture. He has a habit of taking inspirational pictures every day. It normally involves the beach, sun rays, mountains and just everything fabulously ‘naturey’. Showing off just how beautiful Cape Town can be. He was met with this ghastly sight this morning though! A normally pristine, beautiful beach was now completely covered in trash! There were plastic bottles, clothes, shoes and tin cans, everywhere he looked. Moved to tears he asked community for help.
Now, I have to be honest. I have seen pictures like these on the internet. I normally just shake my head and scroll on. Disgusted, with a feeling of ‘what can I do?’. I normally have a melt down at least once a week about just how completely powerless I feel. Fuelled by the negativity I see in the news, talks and documentaries daily. What can a simple girl from the suburbs do to help with something that is clearly just sooooo big!?
A disclaimer: the wonderful people from Cape Town Beach Cleanup was there within minutes after Pete gave them a call. The beach was cleaned and you would not have known that it looked like an absolute catastrophe just hours before.
We are part of the problem
I watched the post from Pete’s Facebook page, as he posted this very picture, with people commenting things like: ‘How disgusting are these humans that have done this’ and just a general outcry of how immoral and terrible this is. Now, if you don’t understand that there is NO AWAY. Then you would realise, we are ALL to blame. It is not a ‘this is their’ fault scenario. Who are ‘they’ anyway? This is all of our faults. The collective. If you are not seriously considering going Zero Waste, then YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM. Me included. I am nowhere near Zero Waste. But I have to admit. This was a shock to the system and a huge eye opener of what needs to be done and quickly too!
Microplastics & microbeads
The sad thing about plastic waste on our beaches is that they break down into little particles called microplastics and it ends up in the food we eat. The fish and other sea-life eats it and we in turn get it on our plate (if you eat meat). There are also something called microbeads and they are ingredients in our cleaning products and fibres from our clothes that end up in the water that is washed out to sea. Affecting our marine life greatly. Find a list of products that contain microbeads, here. beatthemicrobead.org
What can we do?
Here are 5 things you can do TODAY to help our oceans. We are the ones that will suffer due to this. The oceans and rivers are the veins of our planet. We become our environment. When we pollute the air we breathe, it affects our own lungs. When we pollute our oceans and rivers, our own blood is poisoned. It reflects directly to our well-being.
5 Ways you can help to reduce plastic waste on our beaches and oceans!
Say NO to plastic
There are many ways to reduce the use of plastic. Or at least single-use plastics. Make sure that the items you buy in a regular store does not have plastic wrappings. Don’t buy plastic water bottles. Opt for glass ones. Or better yet, refill your water at the many springs we have. If you are looking for a spring near you, I suggest you check out findaspring.com. If your store wraps all your favourite foods in plastic. Write to Woolworths, Checkers, Pick and Pay and demand that they find an alternative way to wrap those cucumbers or the foods you love to buy. The more kickback they get from the community, the greater the chances that they would have no choice but to make drastic changes. The no-straw movement is such a great example of this! Companies and communities are changing their ways!
Shop at a zero-waste / low-impact store
In Cape Town, we now have three zero-waste / low impact stores. And they are absolutely fabulous! You can buy glass jars and/or bring your own and stock up on things like all your grain, rice, seeds, coffee and sugar. Buy fresh produce and buy beautiful sandwich wraps you can use for your children’s school lunch. You can refill your water, honey, juice, spices. Just anything and everything you can think of. Make the change. It actually works out so much cheaper.
Make sure that if you do buy that plastic item, that you recycle. We are able to recycle easily by leaving a recycle bag out on bin day. But the reality is that only 9% of all plastic is being recycled. If you need to find a centre near you, check out Earth911 recycle directory.
Easier said than done. But once you have refused (by shopping at a low impact or zero waste store) and you are reusing every plastic item you own again like water bottles and you are recycling the odd plastic you end up with properly and you compost all of your natural food waste, then you are well on your way to a zero waste lifestyle! High 5!!
Help with beach / river clean-ups
Every time you go to the beach, pick up a few plastic items you might find on the beach. Or join weekend beach / river clean-ups near you. You will meet great people and help keep plastic out of our oceans as soon as high tide comes to wash all that plastic back into our oceans.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. But from the above you can see that it is fairly easy and within our reach to do something about it TODAY. If you have other ways of helping keep our beaches and oceans plastic free, please post below in the comments section!
Our oceans are our life-force, let’s keep it clean. Together!