Avalon Beach cleanup

On a chilly Sunday morning in May, Wanderlightly joined forces with Living Ocean to run our first of many monthly Beach Clean-ups at Avalon Beach, the home of Living Ocean & one of the most stunning beaches along the Northern Beaches of Sydney.

Like most of our beaches, from a distance its looks pristine & free from trash but take a closer look & you will see trash & as we found, loads of it.  We were completely overwhelmed at the amount of trash that was picked up in such a short space of time.  Now I mean really overwhelmed, really REALLY overwhelmed….like what the hell were we going to do with all of this trash overwhelmed!!  I have to say we were at a loss for a good half an hour!  But let me step back a little though to how this event came to fruition.

Over a delicious breakfast one morning (herbed mushrooms at Vespacific if I recall rightly), myself & Sal, a tireless volunteer for Living Ocean & one of my fellow mermaids, were chatting about how we could do more for our local environment & raise the awareness of Plastic Pollution.  Something that would both involve & engage the local community & show that this issue is right on our doorstep & that we ALL must be involved if we are to stem the flow of plastic going into the ocean.

The idea of a regular beach clean was born & it was only natural that Avalon Beach would be our first beach to clean being the home of Living Ocean.

A couple of weeks out from the event we created an event via Facebook & over the next few days more & more people joined & shared.  This is one thing that I truly love about social media.  The power to share & connect with people that you wouldn’t often cross paths with but share the same love & passion to clean up our oceans or reduce the amount of plastic we create.

On the Saturday before the clean-up it rained all day but on the Sunday morning the sun popped itself out for a deliciously clear but rather crisp autumn morning.  And boy was it crisp!  About 9° but the cool wind made it feel Arctic!

As we huddled together to make a plan I was so impressed with the amount that had donated their time on this chilly morning; a good 30+ people with kiddies in tow & the cutest of buttons with their own baskets.  I just love to see kids getting involved.  Its gives me such hope for the future to see these little Eco warriors rolling up their sleeves & its so part of their nature to protect the ocean & earth.  

So off they went, buckets in tow, woolly hats tucked on tight.

Within 15 minutes the boys were back, giant tubs filled with remnants of past parties.  They tipped their treasure into the Large Plastic tubs that I had collected from the Op shop the day before (& one on the way to the clean up off the side of the road) and I had this sinking feeling that we had underestimated the amount that we thought would be collected.  The 4 tubs were not going to even be close to enough to hold the trash!

After 45 mins with most of the team bag & buckets, tubs & bags overflowing I knew we had underestimated!   I couldn’t & still cannot believe how much trash was picked up in such a short space of time & from a small beach 1/2km long!  A beach that looks pristine at first glance.

It took us another 4 hours to sort through it all, separating recyclable material from general waste & recording it for Tangaroa Blue.  These guys do an amazing job of collecting, removing & reporting on marine debris so we have a better understanding if it.

So what did we find the most of in our first Beach Clean-up?   Party stuff!

Alcohol cans, bottles & plastic bottles had a combined total of 643 or 1/4 of the trash collected.  Plastic food wrappers with Chip bags & snack wrappers featuring highly came in at 271.  Cigarette butts?  Well, we stopped counting at 262, the smell was just too overwhelming!  Plastic BBQ plates, an entire set of plastic cutlery still in its plastic holder & a set of BBQ skewers.   Imagine the damage they could do if they had made it into the ocean & became food for marine animals?  The next big quantity of items we found were grey plastic supermarket bags, what better to carry your snacks & drinks to the beach right?  You think taking one bag won’t be harmful …..  think again.  These can blow out of your bins, down drains & into the ocean.  In the water they mimic a jelly fish which are many marine animals food source.  This is not going to be pretty in a turtles tummy!  Don’t get me wrong I’m no party pooper & there is no better view for a party, but if you take stuff to the party, you take your trash out when you leave!  There is just no excuse to leave your waste were you sat.  It’s just bad form!!

Some other notable items we found were a headless fibreglass statue called Vanessa; Paul took home a lovely Cutlery holder for that special find!  A double blow up camping mattress & pillow, half a skateboard & a Surfboard in very bad shape & the wheel to a golf cart……..where does this stuff all come from?!

Now some of this stuff had been there for years, an old tin soft drink can, a metal tin which would have once housed a compass set & a very old glass coke bottle.

The one thing that I’m still chuffed at a week later when I think back is the enthusiasm of the people that joined us.  Braving the cold was one thing, but to give up your Sunday morning to pick up other people’s trash shows such passion for the environment & gives me such hope & inspiration that we can make a notable change & shift Plastic pollution away from the tipping point its heading rapidly towards.  Community passion shined through & after speaking to a few people there is still plenty of other places that we can add to our list to clean up.

Another super cool thing we notices while sorting the trash was the amount of people out on their Sunday that popped over to see what we were up too.  Seeing it all laid out was quite confronting for some & we can only hope it has created a little more awareness around this massive Plastic Pollution problem we are facing.

In total we collected over 2000 pieces of rubbish in just over 45 mins.  Mind blowing!

I have to thank everyone that came out to support Wanderlightly & Living ocean & the Avalon community.  The support & passion you shared is so inspiring & gives me so much motivation to keep moving forward.  Big juicy hugs to you all!! 

A very special thanks to those that helped us dispose of the general rubbish & recycling & to Guy & Spence that popped back down after a surf to tidy up the last bits & pieces of the cleanup.  After 4 hours of sorting this help was a total lifeline!

We have scheduled the next clean-up for the 19th June at Newport Beach so if you are free please come along & join us.   If you aren’t in the area perhaps you could gather some friends & head down to your own local beach to have a wee clean-up Would love to see some snaps too!  It really is the most wonderful way to spend a few hours on a Sunday & give gratitude to the  community & environment that we are so so blessed to live in.

S xxx

The awesome clean-up crew

Tally of the collected trash

Item Quantity
Cans 294
Plastic food packaging/wrappers 271
Ciggarette butts 262
Glass bottles 201
Plastic Bottles 148
Plastic supermarket bags 134
Paper/cardboard bits 81
Random plastic bits 64
Soft drink lids 62
Plastic Food containers 60
Straws 46
Wet wipes 38
Can tabs 28
Clear Plastic cups 28
Styrofoam cups 24
Plastic cutlery 23
Sushi fish 21
Coffee Cup lids 15
Coffee Cups 15
Gloves 15
Ciggarette packets 14
Ciggarette lighters 13
Plastic plates 13
Soft drink cups (Coke) 13
Parking Tickets 10
Cloth Shopping bags 8
Tin foil pieces 8
Pens 7
Drug Paraphernalia 7
Tetra juice packs 6
Balloons 5
Shoe sole 5
Tin lids 5
Wine Bladder 5
Asthma Puffer 4
Cotton bud sticks 4
Milk Crate 4
Condom + wrapper 3
PVC Pipe length 3
Sissors 3
Whipper snipper plstic ends 3
Cable ties 2
Chairs 2
Metal Rod 2
Pencil case 2
Plastic wrap 2
Sunglasses + arm 2
Wet suit zipper 2
Arrow 1
Bubble wrap 1
Camping airbed 1
Car gear stick 1
Car mirror 1
Childs bike 1
Ciggarette rolling machine 1
Clothing 1
Fibre glass statue called Vanessa 1
Glow stick 1
Golf ball 1
Golf cart tyre 1
Hairbrush 1
Leg rope 1
Metal tin 1
Velcro wallet 1
Phone cover 1
Pillow 1
plastic rope 1
Pot 1
rake 1
random plastic 1
Sanititary item 1
Scrapping tool 1
Skateboard end 1
Surfboard 1
Tarp 1
Undies 1
Wine Glass 1
Electrical tape 1
Hair tie 1
Packet of BBQ Skewers 1