NGT staff and volunteers kicked off the beginning of Autumn at Hutt Bay Wetland Reserve for our first Clean Up Australia Day event! We had a fantastic turnout of 21 people, who worked up and down the beach removing rubbish and lots of Coastal Cape Weed (Arctotheca populifolia), also known as Cape Beach Daisy. This South African weed alters the movement of sand and also affects shorebird nesting. You can read more about it from Jodie’s article here.
Although the beach was much cleaner than expected, we did find an abandoned campsite hidden in the scrub within the dunes. It was quite devastating to see the mess that had been left behind – bottles in the sand, ropes around trees, and a large number of degrading plastic tarps which had separated into many fine strands. Unfortunately, non-biodegradable plastics ‘break apart’ rather than ‘break down’, and these tiny plastic ‘micro particles’, fragments and fibers have entered global ecosystems and food chains. Here is a short article from a few years ago by the National Geographic, exploring studies of microplastics on marine life, and what it could mean for humans.
Thanks to everyone’s hard work, we estimate around 230 kg of rubbish was collected on the day; which has reduced the amount of rubbish in the dune system as well as prevented it from entering the ocean (and into the bellies of all our native creatures!). To date, over 365,000 ute loads of rubbish has been removed as part of Clean Up Australia activities around the country. An impressive effort, but it is also important to remember that we must be focused on preventing rubbish pollution to begin with to truly address the problem.
We finished off the day with a BBQ lunch and free time to enjoy Hutt Bay in the company of wonderful people. A huge thank you to everyone that joined us on the day!
A big thank you as well to Clean Up Australia for providing the bags and gloves, and most importantly continuing to inspire the community to look after our environment. We look forward to hosting more events like this in the future!