Beach cleanup of plastic fantastic

The 298 plastic bottle tops, 190 plastic bottles, 100 glass bottles, 87 shotgun casings and 68 shoes picked up off the coast north of the harbour entrance is just a drop in the ocean compared to what rubbish is floating in our seas, says the organiser of Sunday’s beach cleanup.

The amount of rubbish – particularly plastic – in our oceans “is pretty horrendous”, says Whaingaroa Environment Centre coordinator Stacey Hill, who arranged the beach cleanup as part of international Plastic Free July.

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The giant trailer-load of rubbish collected by volunteers “would only have been a fraction of the rubbish out there”, with scientists predicting that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea.

Stacey says all the rubbish found on the remote beach would have travelled there by ocean currents, not have been left by daytrippers.

She hopes to make the beach cleanup between the harbour entrance and Mussel Rock a regular event to keep taking more plastic out of the natural environment. “Every beach cleanup does make a difference.”

Twenty-seven people and three dogs spent a few hours collecting the rubbish, getting across the harbour on kayaks and standup boards supplied by Raglan BackPackers and Raglan Kayak & Paddleboard, and by boat with Raglan Boat Charters.

An audit of the rubbish then took another couple of hours, with all materials recycled by Xtreme Zero Waste.

Also among the spoils were about 40 litres of rope and 120 litres of broken-up plastic, such as plastic bags.

One volunteer even found some treasure – a watch in perfect working order.

Volunteer Bexie Towle says there was a lot more rubbish than she thought there would have been.

She says rather than a beach cleanup, the real solution to remove plastic from our oceans is in choosing what you buy, and “if you do take plastic to the beach make sure you take it home with you”.

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As part of Plastic Free July, the Whaingaroa Environment Centre is also holding a community information evening called Unwrapping Our Plastic Habit at Orca Restaurant and Bar tonight at 6.30pm, with guest speakers.

On July 28, there will be a demonstration workshop on how to make your own cleaning products and moisturisers/lip balms at the Town Hall Supper Room from 12pm-4pm.

Some Raglan cafes are supporting Plastic Free July with discounts on takeaway coffees for supplying your own cup.

Inger Vos