More than 83 kilos of litter and marine debris collected on Sunday

Launch: SO SHIRE had more than 50 volunteers turn out for their Wanda beach clean up launch on Sunday. Picture: John Veage
Launch: SO SHIRE had more than 50 volunteers turn out for their Wanda beach clean up launch on Sunday. Picture: John Veage

To promote Plastic Free July, a new local non-profit organisation SO SHIRE had its public launch on Sunday with a big turnout by the community.

In a few hours, 50 people collected over 83 kilograms of litter and marine debris, scouring the beach, esplanade and grass areas from Wanda to Elouera and the stretch to Greenhills. 

There were the usual single-use litter pieces such as plastic straws, cable ties, takeaway coffee cups, plastic cutlery, plastic bags and remnants, fishing paraphernalia, glass and PET bottles, bottle tops, balloons and takeaway containers found.

For a beach that looked clean, and had been raked by council staff before the sun was up,  the volunteers, which included the Sea Shepherd’s Marine Debris Team, were surprised to still find 1315 cigarette butts andmore than 5 kilos of microplastics.

Most of the litter was single use food packaging pieces littered by beach goers (or blown from bins) and not washed-up debris.

The Sustainable Organisations of the Sutherland Shire (SO SHIRE) is a community-driven network of local businesses, organisations and individuals working together to protect the ocean, local environment and shire lifestyle, said spokeswoman Sarah-Jo Lobwein

Plastic: Maximilian and Cooper scour the frontal dunes for rubbish. Picture: John Veage

Plastic: Maximilian and Cooper scour the frontal dunes for rubbish. Picture: John Veage

“SO SHIRE aims to protect and enhance the natural environment by educating the public, mobilising volunteers and advising and promoting environmentally sustainable businesses within our local area,” Ms Lobwein said. 

“Our first initiative is single use plastic reduction for a plastic-free Sutherland Shire.

“Sutherland Shire’s beaches, rivers, park, roads and drains are direct gateways to the ocean as the sea is always downstream – all drains lead to the sea.

“So it is imperative that the use and supply of single use plastics (coffee cups, straws, plastic bags, takeaway containers) in local businesses are reduced to stop them entering our waterways.”

Ms Lobwein said beach clean-ups provide data but are also a direct way you can stop the flow of litter reaching the ocean or washing back out to sea.

“The beach cleans also shows residents, businesses, local council and visitors, when they see the quantity and type of litter collected, why the community needs to reduce their use of single use plastic items when there are alternative sustainable options available to use and supply,” she said.

SO SHIRE will be working with and supporting residents, businesses, and visitors to kick the single use plastic habit, to choose and invest in sustainable alternatives so they can limit the local plastic pollution and landfill waste created.

They will also Educate locals and visitors about the damaging effects single use plastic items are having on the local environment, providing advice on the sustainable alternatives and solutions as well as recycling and waste management plans for businesses, and lobbying council for direct policy actions supported by local pollution data and resident support.

They hope to also establish a sustainable business certification program.

“We understand that businesses will always have waste streams but it would be great if the waste were compostable or reusable in some way,” Ms Lobwein said. 

To join the next event or for more information on SO SHIRE email info@soshire.org.

Or visit their Facebook page @SOSSHIRE or Instagram @SO_Shire and sign up to their website.