Waterway and beach litter

Rubbish on the beach

With a stunning 31km of coastline, with its reefs, rock pools and fantastic sandy beaches we are truly lucky to live in a stunning part of the world.  However, we’re not always aware that what we do on land directly affects the health of our coast and marine environment.

Stormwater from our inland suburbs ends up in local creeks and wetlands and then flows out to sea, taking litter with it. 

In fact, 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the Earth’s oceans each year. 

Discarded plastics, cigarette butts and food and drink packaging all end up in our waterways and at the beach for us to step on, our marine life to ingest and toxic chemicals to leach into the water. Litter in our oceans and on our beaches is known as marine debris.  

Released balloons, either on purpose or accidentally are also litter. 

Balloons are pretty bad for the environment 2Balloon releases are usually planned as a celebration or memorial for a loved one. Whether released kilometres inland or at the beach they all eventually come back down to earth and end up washing down the storm drains, into our creek systems and oceans where they can then be eaten or entangle precious marine life.   

Balloon companies advocate that latex balloons are biodegradable, but tests have shown that even after being buried for 4 years they can still be identified, and in that time there is plenty of opportunities for wildlife to be harmed.

What does this mean for our bird and marine life?

More than 1 million birds and marine animals are killed each year by eating plastic

  • By 2020 all seabirds will have ingested some plastic
  • By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.

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What can you do to help?

  • Reduce the amount of single-use plastics that you use, or even stop using them altogether (these might include items such as coffee cups, straws, plastic bottles)
    • Why not buy a reusable coffee cup – try and encourage your local coffee shop to provide a discount to customers that bring their own cup
    • Collect soft plastics  - that would normally go in the red bin to landfill and instead take them into your local supermarket for recycling
       
  • Encourage others to use the correct bins and reuse or recycle wherever possible - at home, at the beach, in fact everywhere
     
  • Dob in a litterer - report litter being thrown from vehicles using the Dob In A Litterer website or app.
     
  • Never release balloons - and if having them for parties ensure that they are tied down and end up in the red (waste to landfill) rubbish bin.  Fun alternatives to balloons include pinwheels, ribbon dancers, bubble blowing, planting a tree or creating a butterfly garden and much more)
     
  • Join in by volunteering your time with local community groups or helping at a beach clean-up event and don’t forget to take part in Plastic Free July or Clean Up Australia Day.   Here are just a few of the many local groups that you may wish to volunteer with:

 

Top 10 items collected - Ocean Conservancy

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