A cloudy yet warm morning greeted the hundreds of Cape Town volunteers who joined us at the penultimate Trash Bash of 2018, coinciding with International Coastal Cleanup Day on 15 September. The purpose of this gathering was simple: To remove coastal litter from Sunset Beach and gather scientific data about the dreaded "Dirty Dozen" of plastic pollution.

 
Loads of beach litter collected! Just take a look at all those plastic drinking straws. Straws suck! Credit: Rebekah Plath

Previous Trash Bash cleanups have been well supported by dozens of families and organisations, but this time our expectations were greatly exceeded with more than 500 volunteers arriving!

This might look like a clean beach, but you won't believe how much trash we found. Credit: Matthew Orolowitz
Our Grade 7 Smart Living Course participants showed up in force for Trash Bash. Learning about waste and International Coastal Cleanup Day. Credit: Helen Lockhart

We began the day by splitting participants into groups of 10 - together they would remove trash and record their findings.

Trash Bash began with a briefing, so the eager beavers could get going! Thanks to John Dory's and Table Bay Hotel for partnering with us on the day. Dirty Dozen we're coming for you!
This might look like a clean beach, but you won't believe how much trash we found. Credit: Matthew Orolowitz

The data collected contributes to research aimed at tracking different sources of marine litter – focussing particularly on the 12 items making up the Dirty Dozen. This is why we are revisiting the same spot for all four Trash Bash cleanups of 2018, to see how the distribution of plastic waste changes. We are collaborating with The Beach Co-op on this citizen science project.

Working in groups of 10, volunteers catalogued each piece of trash found - contributing to scientific research tracking ocean pollution distribution. Credit: Matthew Orolowitz

Terminator the Seal joined in, lifting our spirits and encouraging children to terminate trash by using less of single-use plastic.

The team from the Table Bay Hotel team up with Terminator the Seal to get cleaning! Credit: Joanne Selby/The Table Bay Hotel

The Two Oceans Aquarium is incredibly grateful for the support received from the public and community organisations that volunteered their time for this important cause. Thank you to The Beach Co-op, City Sightseeing, John Dory’s, Table Bay Hotel and SPAR Western Cape for their support of Trash Bash and the amazing spot prizes and assistance they offered to volunteers.

Out in force, the John Dory's team were eager to make a difference at Trash Bash. Credit: Helen Lockhart
Thanks SPAR Western Cape for sponsoring 300 copies of Keep the Beach Clean, a Two Oceans Aquarium Puppet Stories childrens' book, to the kids who took part on International Coastal Cleanup Day.
Hard at work, team Table Bay Hotel take on Sunset Beach for International Coastal Cleanup Day. Credit: Joanne Selby/The Table Bay Hotel

The abundance of enthusiasm shown by volunteers was clear throughout the day! We all made such a big difference. Together we can make the next Trash Bash even more successful – it’s happening on 8 December, watch this space! 

Let's do it! Credit: Matthew Orolowitz

Overall, a whopping 174,98kg of litter was collected!

What a success! Credit: Matthew Orolowitz​
Out in force, the John Dory's team were eager to make a difference at Trash Bash. Credit: Helen Lockhart

Well done team!

Animal keepers, workshop staff, marketing, educators - the Two Oceans Aquarium team were out in force at Trash Bash.

Why this mattered

Studies have shown that millions of seabirds ingest plastic and thousands of sea animals die each year from ingesting and being entangled in plastic. Take a look below to see the seabird we found that had subsequently died due to plastic.

It looks like this poor bird died as a result of plastic entanglement. This is why we need to keep the Dirty Dozen off beaches and out of the ocean. Credit: Helen Lockhart

Plastic doesn’t break down; it doesn’t degrade and become part of the natural system again. In fact, plastic breaks up. It breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces until it becomes small enough, not only for small fish to mistake it for food, but research has found that even plankton is now mistaking this “forever material” for food and consuming it, introducing it into the food chain at the lowest level.

These tiny pieces of plastic spell a big problem. Credit: Matthew Orolowitz
Some more litter spotted and removed during Trash Bash. Credit: Matthew Orolowitz

If you want to make a difference and help rid the oceans of plastic pollution then diarise our next Trash Bash on 8 December – from 10am to 12pm (TBC) at Sunset Beach - and bring along family and friends who want to help make a difference!

Thank you to everyone who took part, we certainly did not expect such a huge crowd at this Trash Bash - we can't wait to see you all again at the next one, which will be our final one for the year.

 
Thank you to all these amazing people from Cape Town for joining Trash Bash on International Coastal Cleanup Day. It's a wrap (not plastic!) Credit: Matthew Orolowitz
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