How you can help keep north coast beaches clean

We live in a beautiful part of our world with the Pacific at our doorstep but there are some eye-watering facts that we hope will motivate you to get involved with one of the many great organisations dedicated to protecting our beaches and waterways.

Did you know that eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year or that an estimated 100 million marine animals are killed by plastics each year? And just thirty years from now there is expected to be more plastic in the ocean than fish! You can help improve these devastating statistics….

Here are some local organisations doing great things on the north coast and beyond.

Take 3 for the Sea

Take 3 for the Sea is a global movement that encourages people to pick up at least three pieces of rubbish every time they visit a beach or waterway. They’re part of an ever-growing movement of organisations committed to removing plastic pollution from the environment and encouraging people to take action every day to create positive change.

How you can help keep north coast beaches clean
Take 3 for the Sea volunteers. Image by Faustine Antonangelo

Coastal Warriors Mid North Coast

Founded in 2017, Coastal Warriors Mid North Coast is a volunteer organisation based in Port Macquarie that aims to prevent litter entering local waterways. As well as hosting regular beach and parkland clean ups, Coastal Warriors try to educate the community on ways to dispose of waste responsibly and raise awareness around other waste/litter issues.

They’re always looking for more coastal warriors to join the ranks, so check out their active Facebook and Instagram pages for upcoming events and ways to get involved.

The Surfrider Foundation

Dedicated to protecting the ocean through conservation, activism, research and education, the Surfrider Foundation is currently running a campaign called Rise Above Plastics. The campaign aims to reduce the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics. The community is being encouraged to reduce its ‘plastic footprint’ in a range of ways including beach clean ups. Surfrider Foundation branches hold clean ups monthly and sometimes ever more frequently. You can get in touch with the crew in Byron Bay, Ballina and Coffs Harbour here.

How you can help keep north coast beaches clean
Cigarette butts are one of the most commonly found items in all beach clean ups. Image (l) courtesy of Coastal Warriors 

Seaside Scavenge

At a Seaside Scavenge, volunteers are given gloves and a bag and instructed to clean up a certain area. They pick up plastic bags, bottles, straws, coffee cups and take away containers from their local beach, lake, river or creek area. The rubbish is then sorted, and data is recorded for the Australian Marine Debris Database. For every ten pieces of litter they collect, volunteers are given one Trash Token. Tokens can then be exchanged for pre-loved clothing and goods from a pop-up market filled with items donated by the local community. The Scavenge is accompanied by cool tunes from local musicians playing live.

Find an upcoming Scavenge near you or check out a recent Scavenge in Woolgoolga.

How you can help keep north coast beaches clean
Seaside Scavenge encourages people to collect rubbish in exchange for tokens to spend on pre-loved clothing and other items

Sea Shepherd Australia – Marine Debris Campaign

While Sea Shepherd’s main mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans, it also works to conserve and protect species and safeguard the biodiversity of our delicately balanced oceanic ecosystems. You don’t have to board a massive ship and seek out illegal whaling activities in order to get involved with Sea Shepherd. Its Marine Debris Campaign is run by volunteers and facilitates coastal and river clean-up activities. The extensive network of volunteers have organised a rolling calendar of clean-up events at beaches all over the country including Coffs Harbour and Sawtell. Keep an eye on Facebook for events near you.   

How you can help keep north coast beaches clean
One young participant gets involved in the Marine Debris Campaign. Image courtesy of Sea Shepherd

Tangaroa Blue Foundation

Tangaroa Blue Foundation is a not-for-profit that operates nationally and focuses on both the removal and prevention of marine debris. In an effort to coordinate the work of beach clean up volunteers Australia-wide, Tangaroa Blue set up the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (ADMI). ADMI has a national database which enables organisations running beach clean-up events to collect data and record it using a consistent methodology. The data is then collated which provides a comprehensive overview of the amount and types of marine debris impacting our beaches.

As well as removing litter, Tangaroa Blue aims to stop the flow of waste entering waterways and reduce the amount of waste produced. They do this through collaboration with an extended network of stakeholders and partners, from local communities, organisations and Indigenous rangers to industry and government.

Check out the local and national events you can get involved in here.

How you can help keep north coast beaches clean
Stepping up to help at beach clean ups is a wonderful way to contribute to your community. Image courtesy of Seaside Scavenge

Read relevant articles here on Untrashing Djulpan, Sea Shepherd’s Marine Debris campaign, Surfrider’s Hold Onto Your Butts & Waste Warrior Louise Hardman