We are surrounded by water. According to the National Ocean Service, the ocean covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface. 97% of the Earth’s water can be found in our oceans but it is undrinkable because of the salt. The last remaining 3% of water is made up of 2% frozen glaciers and ice caps while less than 1% of all water on Earth is fresh. Knowing this, why would we even consider polluting our oceans and rivers?

We are living in a time where Water Water everywhere is now becoming Plastic Plastic everywhere. Plastic pollution and ocean health has been a focus in many media stories and on social media. This, I believe has brought about a concern for marine pollution and has prompted people to start taking action to make their beaches healthier and safe for marine life.

According to EarthDay.Org about 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the ocean annually. Of those, 236,000 tons are tiny pieces of broken-down plastic called microplastics that is easily ingested by marine life that mistake the small pieces of plastic for food. What’s even more alarming is that further up the food chain are humans that have at one time or another consumed fish that may have ingested plastic microfibers. (EarthDay.Org).

In an effort to prevent plastic washing back into the ocean, Beach Clean-ups are becoming a regular occurrence along coastlines around the world. Individuals, environmental groups, school eco-clubs and corporates take to the beach to pick up litter (especially plastic) so it does not wash back into the ocean and endanger marine wildlife.

The items collected during clean-ups is always surprising to me. I have personally come across discarded beer bottles, plastic bottles, bottle tops, earbuds, plastic bread tags, sucker sticks and plastic straws! The reward though at the end of having collected so much trash always makes me feel like I have played a part in keeping our oceans clean. However, it can become a little discouraging when in just a short few days or months, you find the same beach you helped clean-up just as dirty as when you began. But, do not give up hope!

By taking part in these beach clean-ups you are leaving a great example to how others can help to make a difference too. Besides being a great way for the community to rally together to keep our oceans and beaches clean, the more people that participate regularly in beach clean-ups, the more I believe it will become the norm and change the way we look after our environment.

Corona Corporate Beach Clean-Up

Last year I attended a corporate Corona Beach Clean-up on Eastern Beach in East London in partnership with SAB Miller, Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCMM), Border-Kei Chamber of Business, Transnet and EOH. It was part of the Corona X Parley Clean-Wave Initiative where a group of surfers have committed to cleaning up the beaches and stop more trash going into the oceans. Corona x Parley are creating a platform to go around and clean up all the beaches and protect 100 islands by 2020. This initiative is aimed at inspiring individuals to protect the oceans for future generations and to encourage them to become ambassadors for change within their communities.

Every time I attend a beach clean-up I am always so amazed at what I find. During the Corona Beach Clean-Up I must have picked up over 50 plastic straws in just the short while we walked the beach collecting litter. After seeing what I picked up, I decided to take the pledge to stop using plastic straws. For the ocean.

My shock at how much plastic pollution was on the beach clearly came across as being quite passionate as I was quoted in two publications who covered the beach clean-up story. Check out the following link to Daily Dispatch https://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/2018-06-23-liquor-company-leads-eastern-beach-clean-up/ and the link to Border Kei Chamber’s Call2Action blog https://call2actionweb.wordpress.com/2018/06/20/corona-x-parley-pledges-to-end-marine-plastic-pollution-by-starting-with-eastern-beach/

Post New Year Beach Clean-Up

The first organised clean-up for 2019 that I attended took place in Kidds Beach on the 03 January 2019. Living in a pristine seaside village, Kidds Beach is a tourist magnet, especially over the holiday season where visitors from near and far come to enjoy the sun, surf and waves. Sadly, the amount of litter left behind during the holiday season is disparaging to the community. Although the municipality did a big clean up after the new years festivities, there was still plenty of litter around.

Enter Abby van der Hoven, a young school girl who took up the challenge to organise a post New Year Beach Clean-Up just a few days after the New Year festivities in Kidds Beach. She put together a little video telling us why she decided to organise a beach clean-up.

Left to Right: Abby van der Hoven & Angela Barter

The item most picked up this time was not plastic straws as I encountered during the Corona Beach Clean-up, but rather plastic tags that you find on bread. I know there are some positive uses to recycling these Bread Tags for Wheelchairs, but it doesn’t do any good on the beach – if you find them please drop them off at a Bread Tags for Wheelchair collection point so that they can be put to good use.

Some of the plastic tags I collected.

….oh and the other surprise was maybe the one golf ball we found too! The nearest golf course is 31.5 km from Kidds Beach so not sure about that. I also hope it is not maritime golfers hitting balls off a ship into the ocean because according to New York Times, that fun ended in 1990 when the International Maritime Organization prohibited the dumping of plastic waste into the sea, which included those little white balls. There are articles about a biodegradable golf balls but I will have to do a little more research to decide if this is a good thing or not…

Finding that one golf ball in a million….
After just an hour or so of collecting litter, we managed to fill a bakkie load of black bags from our clean-up efforts.

I am committed to participating in more organised beach clean-ups this year and have committed to helping Abby promote the next Beach Clean-Up for 2020 by using my PR and communication skills to promote the Beach Clean-Up, help educate and encourage visitors and the community to participate in the next event. The more people that are involved, the more motivated people are to get down to the beach and lend a hand.

What To Bring To A Beach Clean-Up:

I thought I would share a few tips on what to bring to your next beach clean-up.

Wear gloves

Take a few extra black bags with you

Wear comfortable (non-slippery shoes if you climbing the beach rocks)

Sunscreen and a hat or cap


Drinking Water– clean-ups can be dehydrating.

A Positive Attitude

Encourage friends and family to come along and join you!

Trash Free Seas with Clean Swell

To make the Beach Clean-up fun, try out the awesome app, CleanSwell.