Cape Town - The Plastic Free Mzansi campaign started World Environment Day on Sunday with a beach clean-up at Sunset Beach in Milnerton where numerous organisations gathered to encourage awareness of and action for the protection of the marine environment.
This was the fifth edition of the campaign and its “The Beach Co-op and Twyg” to clean beaches and raise awareness of plastic pollution throughout the year. It also offers solutions through immersive environmental experiences and an interactive communication campaign.
The Beach Co-op founder and director Aaniyah Martin-Omardien said they were at the beach to encourage people to help clean the marine environment and beaches by using the “The Dirty Dozen” methodology in which citizens and participants involved in the clean-up logged the number of the top 12 most commonly found items on beaches. This was to help identify the source of the litter and advocate for changes in consumption and waste management habits.
Some of the top 12 most commonly found items were bottles, bottle tops, plastic bags, chips and sweets packaging, straws, ear-buds, lighters and fishing nets.
“Through doing this process, we noticed that people become more conscious and aware of the waste in our environment and realize how they, in their individual ways, can change behaviour by purchasing less single-use plastics,” Martin-Omardien said.
Twyg founder Jackie May said her not-for-profit company was founded almost four years ago to help change people’s general behaviour, consumer behaviour and lifestyles so that all could get on track to become more sustainable and keep the earth within its 1.5 °C temperature limit.
“Ultimately we would like to see all problem plastics eliminated and replaced with biodegradable and compostable materials,” May said.
Participant Sharne Eddie-Ally decided to join the clean-up with her family and said they had picked up a significant amount of plastic straws, micro-plastics and polystyrene material.
Another participant and frequent beach-goer Ocean Steenkamp said she decided to join the clean up with her friends yesterday and they noticed quite a lot of packaging materials from sweets and chips on the beach.
Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages (CCPB) was one of the supporting organisations and CCPB Sustainability head Priscilla Urquhart said they hoped to help bring attention to protecting the coastline and the harm that plastic causes the environment.