On the morning of Saturday 2 December 2017, volunteers from across the world joined up with the Two Oceans Aquarium and V&A Waterfront for the first beach cleanup of the inaugural Ocean Life Festival. The site of this cleanup effort was the coast from Broken Bath Beach to Milton Beach in Sea Point, Cape Town (that's the one next to the Sea Point Pavilion).
The cleanup was officially supported by Nedbank and the V&A Waterfront, who showed up in force on the day to help with the cleaning efforts and to hand out sustainable, reusable bags in support of our Rethink the Bag campaign as well as other efforts to eliminate disposable plastic items.
To our delight, the entire crew of Team AkzoNobel, a competitor in the Volvo Ocean Race, together with staff from AkzoNobel, their sponsors, turned up to help at the cleanup. We were quite inspired by their commitment to clean up this beach - it was clear that they understood that even though this wasn't "their beach" it was still part of our shared ocean. Plastic is everyone's problem.
It was an incredible experience to see Cape Town families cleaning up a beach side by side with celebrities like Olympic gold medallist Martine Grael and legendary radio personality and sports commentator Jeff Ayliffe.
Another element of beach cleanups, which is often ignored, is the presence of microplastics imbedded in the sea sand.
Despite being only a little over half a kilometre long, the amount of rubbish found washed up and littered on this beach was unbelievable, and as members of Team AkzoNobel pointed out, this plastic is only a tiny portion of a problem that's covering our oceans, and buried in our beach sand.
It is a sad thought that a beach that looks so pristine from a distance is actually completely covered in plastic waste. This is why beach cleanups as so important - not only to help the environment, but to create social awareness of the growing problem that is plastic pollution.
All it took was a few people and two hours of their time to help keep our coasts clean and beautiful - let's keep this trend going and work together for cleaner coasts!
Thank you to everyone involved for your help! It was awesome working with such a diverse crowd, we are looking forward to the next one.