Our experience of a beach clean-up
We met Clean C director, Gregory Player, at the Milnerton Lighthouse on a misty Friday morning. Gregory handed us some gloves and plastic bags. At first glance, it didn’t seem that there would be a lot for us to do – two other teams were already finishing their clean-ups as we arrived.
We moved slightly further down the beach to the mouth of the Milnerton lagoon, and it was only there that we started to realise the enormity of the problem. It looked like a rubbish dump.
Especially where kelp prevents garbage from being washed straight back into the sea, there’s a horrifying quantity of plastics of all descriptions, along with boots, shoes, clothes, electric cabling, rope, crates, pieces of tyre and more, littering the beach. Vast quantities of rubbish are swept into the sea via Cape Town’s rivers, and any litter on land is likely to end up in the ocean.
After two hours, our small group had filled ten refuse bags, some weighing as much as eight kilogrammes, with garbage. We did what we could, but this is obviously a problem that needs on-going attention, from as many Capetonians as possible.
Gregory believes that education is vitally important in helping to reduce plastic pollution. With many kids in Cape Town never having had a chance to experience our beautiful beaches, Clean C are planning to get as many as possible to the beach to have fun, play soccer and other sports, and learn about the environment.
How to do a beach clean-up responsibly
Picking up plastic on the beach feels right, is good exercise and fun to do. Any amount will help. Whether you choose to join an organisation like Clean C or organise a clean-up yourself, following a few simple rules will ensure your efforts don’t go to waste.
Check the weather and dress in layers
The Gnus arrived at the beach on a chilly, overcast day – but after about ten minutes of bending and picking up garbage, we all broke a sweat. Wear layers so you can adjust to your changing body temperature.
Ensure you use durable garbage bags
Be warned – garbage can be heavy, especially if you’re collecting wet trash covered in sand.
Standard black bags are generally too thin for the types of trash you’ll find on the beach, including clothes, shoes, and plastic crates. It’s also likely you’ll have to carry your bags to a collection point, so ensure the bags you use are durable and won’t tear.
Take the garbage with you
Remember to take what you pick up and drop it off at a designated area. It’s no good filling bags with garbage and then leaving it on the beach, hoping someone will collect it.
Municipal services won’t necessarily remove bags that aren’t placed in the correct collection areas, or bags that are placed in government-only collection sites.
Keeping it clean with Clean C
As well as organising beach clean-ups, Clean C coordinates initiatives such as planting vegetable gardens, community upliftment projects and sponsoring children’s school fees. There are plenty of ways to get involved with this organisation.