"Heartbreaking" photos of discarded plastic drink bottles among mangroves in the Towra Point Nature Reserve have been released following a recent clean-up.
The photos serve a dual purpose - firstly, to highlight the problem of plastic waste in Sutherland Shire and, secondly, help promote the free screening of two films at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, Gymea on Saturday June 12 to celebrate World Oceans Day.
The Towra Point clean-up was facilitated by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and SO SHIRE for National Volunteer Week.
Sarah-Jo Lobwein, co-founder of SO SHIRE and a member of the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre, said, "What we saw first-hand at Towra Point was heartbreaking".
"Plastic pollution is becoming a serious problem in the shire," she said.
"There's so much plastic litter washing up from drains and rivers onto our beautiful beaches and it impacts birds and marine life."
Ms Lobwein said more than 300 large bags of plastic waste, as well as other types of rubbish such as tyres, beds and packaging from as far back as the 1960s, was collected and removed over three days at Towra Point.
"The rubbish, all of which had been washed up, was collected from areas that are rarely visited," she said.
The two films, titled Sanctuary and The Story of Plastic, will be screened free on Saturday from 1.45pm to 4pm in the Hazelhurst theatrette.
They are being presented by SO Shire, and Sutherland Shire Environment Centre.
The groups said in a statement Sanctuary "features extraordinary footage of the exquisite marine sanctuaries around Batemans Bay, which are nurseries for a diverse range of marine life".
"Residents were shocked by a recent decision of the NSW government to remove protected sanctuary status from these areas, without consultation," the statement said.
"The film features Laura Wells, model, environmental activist and science communicator; Walbunja man and Native Title Claimant, Wally Stewart; David Booth, Professor of Marine Ecology; and ABC broadcaster and host of River Cottage Australia, Paul West."
The Story of Plastic is a "full-length feature documentary which unpacks the many stages of plastic production and the pollution it causes across the globe".
"Most plastic that's produced is only used once and then discarded," Ms Lobwein said
"In Australia, approximately 130,000 tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean each year, and here in Sutherland Shire we see evidence of this every day."
The film screenings "aim to raise awareness of the delicate nature of ocean ecosystems, the damage that plastics are causing to the environment, and also what people can do to be part of the solution".
There will be a Q&A discussion after the films, facilitated by guest speakers, Ms Lobwein and Sharnie Connell, senior campaigns officer for the National Parks Association of NSW.
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