Durban - A video has gone viral of a scuba diver struggling to wade through a layer of litter, when he surfaces, alongside a ship at the Durban Harbour.
The video, posted on the Clean Surf Project Facebook page, was shared more than 3 000 times and received more than 164000 views by on Tuesday.
Denzil van der Westhuizen, Clean Surf Project founder, said much of the garbage that found its way to the harbour came from storm-water drains and people littering.
He said the NGO had conducted various clean-ups along beaches and informal settlements, but faced many challenges. One of these was at informal settlements where rubbish was thrown into nearby rivers, one of the only ways residents could get rid of their waste.
At beaches, they embarked on clean-up campaigns but were not able to do so effectively because of a lack of equipment.
“The problem is what we don’t see floating,” Van der Westhuizen said.
He said microplastics in the water were a huge problem and affected marine life. Cleaning a cubic metre of the beach could yield as much as 7.5kg of plastic, he said.
Cyndy Bosman, owner of Aliwal Shoal Scuba, said the video was not surprising. “Litter is a huge problem and divers often pick up litter when they are out in the water. We often do beach clean-ups and come back with bags full of plastic. It is like constant patrolling.”
She said the situation was not limited to South Africa.
According to eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela, litter was one of the city’s top problems it was trying to tackle. He said despite there being rubbish bins all around the city, people were still not using them.
“Keeping the city clean is not the sole responsibility of the city, but that of residents and visitors too. It is more about us protecting the environment.”
Mayisela said a way to change this behaviour was through education, with children being taught why littering is dangerous.