Thousands of South Africans expected to participate in 28th International Coastal Clean-up Day on Saturday, 21 September 2013.

This year, the world’s largest annual volunteer effort for ocean health, the International Coastal Clean-Up (ICC), will take place on Saturday, 21 September 2013.
According to Plastics|SA, the official coordinator of the annual beach and river clean ups that take place around South Africa, they are once again expecting thousands of South Africans to volunteer their time and energy in an effort to keep our country’s beaches beautiful and litter free.

“This day is undoubtedly one of the highlights on the September environmental diary, with various activities taking place around the country in celebration of Arbor Week (1-7 September) and Clean up and Recycle Week (16-21 September),” explains John Kieser, Sustainability Manager of Plastics|SA and National Coordinator for the ICC.

The first ever official beach clean-up took place along the Texas shoreline in 1986 and was arranged by the Ocean Conservancy. Since then, the effort has evolved into the International Coastal Clean-up we know today with South Africa being ranked on the list of top 10 participating countries.

“During last year’s International Coastal Clean-up, volunteers picked up more than 4,536 tons (4,536,000 kg) of almost every imaginable type of waste along the world’s shorelines”, Kieser says.

Volunteers living in and around the Western Cape are encouraged to join major beach clean-ups that will be taking place at the following venues on Saturday, 21 September 2013 starting at 09:00 and ending by 11:00:

  • Eerste Steen, Blouberg (supported by the City of Cape Town and  the Blaauwberg Conservatory
  • False Bay and Kalk Bay (supported by PETCO and ERM)
  • False Bay Yacht Club (underwater clean up supported by Kelpak and Pick n Pay)
  • Hout Bay, main beach (supported by the Environmental Conservation Cooperation)
  • Kogelbaai
  • Kommetjie, main beach
  • Riebeeckstrand,  Melkbosstrand
  • Strandfontein, False Bay  (clean-up supported by the Two Oceans Aquarium)
  • Sunrise Beach, Muizenberg
  • Sunset Beach, Table View (clean-up supported by Coca Cola)
  • Woodbridge Island (supported by Woolworths)
  • Yzerfontein (micro debris clean up)

However, the work doesn’t stop when the beach clean-ups end.  Once the volunteers go home, local coordinators are tasked with the job of collecting and compiling raw data obtained from the clean-ups in order to gain a better understanding of the types of litter found in the marine environment, such as cigarette butts, food wrappers, lost fishing nets and even major appliances.

“We analyse the data we receive after each year’s clean-up and send this off to Ocean Conservancy International who uses these stats to publish the world’s only item-by-item, location-by-location snapshot of marine debris in an annual report.  This comprehensive look at the human handprint of marine debris helps to educate government, scientists and the public around the world,” Kieser says.

“The International Coastal Clean Up is as much about preventing litter as it is about cleaning up our beaches and waterways”, Kieser explains.  “We believe that plastics don’t litter.  People do.  “With the support of our partners such as Ocean Conservancy, KZN Conservation Services, Kelpak, Pick n Pay, Coca Cola, Tuffy, and Addis, we try to educate people that plastics don’t litter, people do.  It is only by understanding what is out there and how it is all connected, that we can work together on finding solutions for the growing problem of litter that travels to the ocean by way of storm drains and waterways“.

For information about land-based beach and river clean-ups that will take place elsewhere in South Africa during the week leading up to the 21st of September and on the day itself, please visit the Clean-up Diary on http://www.cleanup-sa.co.za/cleanupdiary.htm