Volunteers to wage war on rubbish at city's beaches

Photo: Sustainable Coastlines
Photo: Sustainable Coastlines
Hundreds of people will be scouring three Christchurch beaches for waste and rubbish later this month in the Big Clean Up.

More than 330 eager volunteers have registered to take part in the clean up on February 29.

The initiative, now in its second year, will be run in collaboration with Hirepool and Sustainable Coastlines.

Last year more than 200 litres of waste, which is equivalent to 180 wheelbarrow loads, was collected by 226 volunteers during a similar three-hour event at the Onehunga foreshore in Auckland.

The organisers of the Christchurch clean up hope the situation here is not so dire, but are grateful for the support.

“This promises to be our largest beach clean-up in Christchurch and we’re excited to be able to work with amazing local community groups,” said Sustainable Coastlines co-founder Camden Howitt.

“I know how much we love our coastlines and we’re looking forward to seeing heaps of passionate people get involved.”

Community groups will be running clean-up registration stations on the day. The New Brighton beach, Sumner beach and Lyttelton Harbour clean ups will be run by Sustain South Brighton, Remix Plastic and Conservation Volunteers New Zealand respectively.

Photo: Sustainable Coastlines
Photo: Sustainable Coastlines
Groups of volunteers will be directed from the registration stations to rubbish hot-spots along the coast between Brooklands and Governors Bay during the clean-up from 1.30-4.30pm.

In the lead up to the event, Sustainable Coastlines has also launched a programme aimed at educating school children about the importance of working towards cleaner beaches to protect marine life.

Children taking part in the clean up will see first-hand the amount of plastic and food wrappers being collected, some of which may have come from school lunchboxes.

TVNZ Fishing & Adventure presenters Scott Parry and Mig Rumney will take part in the clean-up.

“With being on the water so often, we are even seeing microplastic appearing in the bellies of fish,” Parry said.

“It’s truly frightening, because it’s essentially entering our food system.”

Shaun Owen, who is the marketing manager of event sponsor Hirepool, said: “At last year’s Big Clean Up, we collected a massive amount of plastic straws, lollipop sticks, chip packets and pieces of balloon.

“We need to keep getting the message out there that people need to make changes, like avoiding buying items in small single-use plastic wrappers.

“Many Hirepool customers are into their fishing and recreational sports, so we wanted to get involved and play our part in rehabilitating our shores and educate the future generation on what needs to be done to save our sealife,” he said

Free Phoenix drinks and Mexicali Fresh will be provided to volunteers.

Sustainable Coastlines will provide volunteers with:

  • All relevant equipment - gloves, sacks, sunblock etc
  • Health and Safety documentation and briefing
  • First aid trained staff and first aid kits
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Refreshments post-clean-up
  • Water refills
  • Rubbish removal

Volunteers should bring:

  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Sun-smart gear
  • Raincoats and appropriate clothing for the day
  • Reusable drink bottles, filled and ready to go
  • A camera

Learn more about the Big Clean Up here