Choosing a location is of the most utmost importance. At STBP we try find beaches that have high yields and that are not commonly service by the local councils cleaning staff. This way we can make sure our time is spent efficiently as we get the most amount of rubbish off of the coastlines that need it most. As a priority, we also make sure the site is safe and easily accessible to the general public.
Beach clean events are hard work, getting as many people as possible to help clean makes a clean more successful and impactful. STBP promotes collaborations to increase the reach of local networks and thereby increase the numbers of people cleaning. As the old saying goes, ‘Many hands make light work.’
We like to incorporate an educational side to our cleans for instance we invite local marine scientists to show the youth which organisms are found on ocean litter and which species are prevalent in the area. This keeps the youth engaged and stoke an interest in protecting the beaches they help clean. Education also takes another form when we teach the volunteers what can and cannot be recycled. We sort the waste into recyclable and non-recyclable
(landfill waste) categories, this way we are educating the public what they should be looking out for when purchasing products which are in plastic containers.
Since beach clean ups are hard work, we try making it fun and entertaining to make the hard work less tedious and try counteracting the eco-anxiety that can demotivate us as we strive to keep mitigating the harmful effects of litter on our local coastlines. STBP often has a DJ playing music to create a playful and fun atmosphere, it helps keep morale high and keeps people dancing and cleaning to the rhythmic beats. We have also found that music brings all
the different cultures together, often leading to dance offs once the cleaning has been completed.
5. Social media and print media
Social media is an integral part of making a clean successful. This is how we spread the word when we have an up and coming event. Collaborators also expand that reach by sharing the posts and posters through out their social media networks in the weeks leading up to the clean as well as live updates on the day. Boosting the event page on Instagram and Facebook further assists in breaking the echo-chamber to reach new eyes and ears. We also accept
invitations to do radio and TV interviews to spread the word about the work we do.
After the cleans the waste is sorted into recyclable and non recyclable, this is then weighed and captured for research purposes. Since these small actions often feel insignificant, we share these results via social media and relate it to an ocean creatures weight, it shows the collective impact results of the clean up event and it gives those who assisted a sense of the bigger picture and ownership in the impact. Knowing you have contributed to removing half
a ton of plastic at a clean is very rewarding and puts a lot into perspective.
To help support the significant impact struggling waste pickers have in the Cape, we contribute to paying for a sorting team to further sort the waste we collect. The waste is donated to a small local recycling company which means up to 9 families have the opportunity to benefit from the waste collected from the coastline and river mouth.
8. Be Proactive:
Clean up events are significant from the perspective of impact and awareness, but if you are walking along the beach with your dogs or family and you pick up plastic you see on the beach, you are setting an example for others and making an impact too. Every little bit helps in the fight against litter. One piece of plastic could be the piece that saves a creatures life.
These 8 factors are what make our events what they are but of course, mitigation and
awareness are only one part of the solution.
We believe change begins at home so try and refrain from purchasing single use plastics and when the choices are limited or inaccessible, try opting for choices which are recyclable. This is easier with vegetables as they do not need to be wrapped in plastic but start exploring alternative snack options too. Carrying a reusable bag or mesh veggie bags can are a significant start as you’ll notice how quickly they add up and how limited their use really is.
And if you’re still unsure of where to start, join our Beach Clean Up events and chat to us about what change might look like for you, sea you soon!