Earlier this month, Australia welcomed a Royal visit from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, which included a trip to a South Melbourne Beach. Prince Harry and wife Meghan were greeted by a group of Beach Patrol volunteers and local school kids to discuss how Melbourne’s beach litter affects the environment and food chain, and how best to reduce it.
While advocates are already working to clean Australia’s beaches, there’s no doubt the massive impact that celebrity environmental activists have on the general public. In fact, the visit shed a light on just how important it is to keep Australia’s beaches clean.
Not only does beach litter have obvious effects on our sea life, it also directly affects human health. Nine-year-old school kid, Zoe Cartlidge, raised concerns about micro-plastics, explaining that “the fish eat the plastics and we eat the fish.”
Not to mention the fact that Australia is known for our beaches, and our tourism is centred around it.
To understand the significance of this issue, here are some statistics. According to the Tangaroa Blue Foundation, around 2,651,613 pieces of debris were collected from Australian beaches in 2016 and 2017, and 75% of that rubbish was plastic.
What is Australia already doing to fix our beach litter problem?
Avid surfers, Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, were fed up with the plastic pollution found in the ocean. “If we have rubbish bins on land,” asks Pete, “why don’t we have rubbish bins for the ocean?”
How did the pair address this question? In 2015, they invented a Seabin, an innovative, automated bin for the ocean. Water is sucked in from the surface and pumped back out from the bottom of the bin, capturing rubbish, debris and oils in a polypropylene mesh filter.
The Seabin’s catch bag can hold up to 20kg of debris at a time, and it’s estimated to collect 1.5kg of floating debris each day. Andrew and Pete’s ultimate mission is to “have pollution free oceans for our future generations.” In fact, the product is now sought after worldwide.
However, the idea is for the Seabin to catch any remaining debris. The best way to fix any problem is to find its root cause. That’s where you, the general Australian public, come in. Here’s what you can do to reduce the plastic litter on our beaches.
The Last Straw
When discussing with the volunteers what rubbish is found most on the beach, Prince Harry guessed it was plastic straws.
Marine biologist, Nicole Nash, founded the one-woman campaign, Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef. And last year, Beach Patrol joined the Port Melbourne Business Association and the Tangaroa Blue Foundation to establish a three month trial to ditch plastic straws. Nine cafes and restaurants along Bay St, Port Melbourne, participated, swapping plastic straws for paper ones.
While large restaurant companies are ditching plastic straws will make a significantly quicker impact, you can start small by removing them from your consumption.
According to Nicole, “the problem is they’re plastic. Every one you’ve had is still on the planet somewhere.” This is especially considering the concern of finding them stuck in turtle’s nostrils.
Prince Harry suggests using bamboo or metal straws instead.
So, our tip for you is to ditch plastic straws. Either use straws made from reusable materials, such as metal, paper or bamboo, or ditch them altogether.
Reusable grocery bags
This year’s attempt to ditch plastic bags from supermarkets raised environmental awareness nationwide. Plastic grocery bags take between 10-1000 years to decompose.
Every household needs groceries, so everyone can participate in this simple, but effective action to ditch plastic grocery bags to save the environment. So, remember to bring along your fabric bags when you next go grocery shopping.
Not only is home cooking a healthy option, but it also allows you to use less plastic takeaway containers, cutlery and bags. The less takeaway containers you use, the more you’ll use your fabric grocery bags.
Make like Harry and Meghan
Prince Harry told Beach Patrol volunteers about his father’s efforts to reduce plastics by working with large companies in the UK. He also expressed how his dad would encourage him to pick up rubbish when he saw it on the beach.
A significant way to help the environment is to join volunteer groups including Beach Patrol and Tangaroa Blue Foundation, or to start your own in your local community. You can also participate in Clean Up Australia Day in March, and encourage your work group to do so.
The team here at Nationwide Waste Solutions will be rolling our sleeves up when Clean Up Australia Day comes around to help Australia look beautiful and free of rubbish!
At Nationwide Waste Removal Brisbane, we are your one-point-of-call for all of your waste management and recycling needs. Is your restaurant or cafe weaning off plastic straws? Let us support you! For more information about our services, call us on 1300 729 922 or contact us here.
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