Making collecting rubbish fun (at the beach)!

Do you think we have a problem with polluted beaches and oceans?

Have you heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP)? If not here are a few facts – it is roughly 3 x as large as France and is created by plastic (and other rubbish) being collected together by the oceans currents. It is the largest of 5 ‘garbage patches’. Check out some more details here:

It can all seem quite daunting, especially when we realise how many billions of animals are being effected as well as ourselves. However, if we all play our part we can really turn things around by focusing on some key steps:

Get Educated!: Learn about what is really going on out there to gain some perspective on the situation. Even if you don’t live near the beach, understand that a significant amount of rubbish eventually flows out to the oceans. This includes rivers, storm water collection from road grates etc. Be mindful of the bigger picture. Through education we can make change. There are many causes and groups who dedicate their efforts in this area.

Attitude / Mindset: Treat the beaches and oceans, the way you would your loved ones. Respect and appreciate their beauty so they can stay magical for generations to come. If you go to the beach, make the effort to only leave your footprints behind…

Take Action: Lead by example! Even if some people poke fun at you to start with (because they don’t really understand), forge ahead and show and teach them how to improve by taking all your rubbish with you. Even better, collect other peoples rubbish off the beach and join a beach clean up group.

Spread the Word: Positively and gently let people know your thoughts about beach and ocean pollution, as well as solutions (so they are not mentally paralyzed and overwhelmed by fear). Here are some areas you could focus on:

Reduce – If we reduced our need for plastic and other pollutants that would be a tremendous start!

Refuse – Say no to things you don’t really need. Also look for things that are preferably not made from plastics and materials that cannot be broken down easily. Vote with your money. Business will then be encouraged to follow and be more proactive.

Reuse / Repurpose – Rather than throwing things out, have a think about how else they can be used

Repair – If something breaks, try to fix it. There are centres now dedicated to educating people the skills to repair things and will often repair items for you for free or minimal charge. In Sweden there are shopping malls focused on selling repaired items.

Regift – Sometimes it can be ok to re-gift and share things around if they do not serve you

Recycle – Use recycle bins, recycle centres and other initiatives to close the loop

Repeat – Keep up the good work!

Beach activities – When you go to the beach, have fun and play some collecting rubbish games. Here are some ideas (Please note to keep safe and avoid sharps and dangerous items such as glass, metal,  needles etc):

  1. Put on some music (possibly from your mobile and pump up some cool tunes), put a timer on for 10mins and have a race to see who can collect the most rubbish during that time. Create 1 pile each per person. The person with the most items at the end wins! Make sure you place items in recycling bins etc afterwards.
  2. Go on a scavenger hunt and collect items as you stroll along the beach, and at the end sit down and guess where all the pieces might have come from (such as far away countries), and what they might have originally part of (such as a lid off a water bottle)… get the minds thinking about the bigger picture!
  3. Purchase a Smartphone Microscope Converter (some are very inexpensive – starting at AU$5.00) and collect 5 small items from the beach and check them out to under the microscope. Wow what does their surface look like? Have they been broken down by the ocean? What are the materials?
  4. Find a piece of rubbish on the beach and write a story about the adventure it has been on!
  5. Collect rubbish from the beach and turn it into art! You could make a happy sea creature by gluing it all together or a home made card.
  6. Spread your words of encouragement by writing motivating messages in the wet sand for others to read and feel enlightened! Decorate with shells and seaweed!
Credit: Anko

There is a definite trend and an increase in awareness taking place to help our pollution crisis which is wonderful to see. With everything from beach signs, to sculptural pieces celebrating the ocean (and encouraging collection of rubbish) to education and animal conservation programs. The world is starting to move in the right direction. How will you help?

Check out more information here (click on images):

Credit: Greenpeace
Credit: Ocean Unite
Credit: Clean Up Australia
Credit: WWF
Credit: Planet Ark / War on Waste
Credit: Sea Shepherd
Credit: Clean Up the World
Credit: Take 3