Covering nearly 1,500 kilometres of the South African coastline, with a number of nodal cleanups to be implemented from Melkbosstrand in the west, to Ballito on the east coast of South Africa, the inaugural ‘Big Cleanup’ – a network of participating organisations and volunteer groups – will deliver a wave of change to our shores this International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICC), September 16th, and all members of the public are invited to join in on the action.
The WESSA Tourism Blue Flag project – a three-year coastal tourism and youth development project implemented by WESSA in partnership with the National Department of Tourism – along with the Let’s Do It! Africa waste awareness campaign and other participating partners will run or support a total of 22 registered coastal cleanup events. This collaborative effort will enjoy the official support of Plastics|SA as an implementer and main sponsor of the annual ICC event.
The International Coastal Cleanup initiative has been an unwavering platform to raise awareness on marine pollution, inadequate waste management, the need for recycling and non-littering in South Africa for the past 20 years. This year’s ‘Big Cleanup’ network will enable citizens to actively do something to improve the health of their local marine resources.
Building on this model, the Let’s Do It! civic-led mass movement, currently being introduced to the African continent and neighbouring nations, works to unite the global community and encourages civic society members to stand up against the ever-growing trash problem by cleaning up waste both along the coast and inland. To date, 113 countries and over 16 million people have joined the campaign to clean up illegal waste.
Coinciding with ICC in 2018, an estimated 150 countries and 5% of the global population will participate in the long anticipated World Cleanup Day on 15 September 2018, making it the biggest positive civic action the world has ever seen.
Whilst global preparations are underway for the 2018 cleanup event, the Let’s Do It! campaign works to improve waste management in areas where waste is being lost to the environment, raise awareness about the issue, increase the frequency of citizen cleanups and raise future ‘waste warriors’ such as the youth employed as the Beach Stewards on the WESSA Tourism Blue Flag Programme, as proud coastal conservation ambassadors.
Other network partner organisations include: Two Oceans Aquarium; the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB); Junior Chamber International (JCI) South Africa; Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET); the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST); Boaz Ocean Awareness Yacht; the Coastal Cleanup Convention; Nature’s Valley Trust; and White Shark Ventures.
The network also enjoys the volunteer support of The City of Cape Town; Ray Nkonyeni Municipality; Knysna Municipality; and Overstrand Municipality.
Special environmental calendar days come and go, but the sustainability of the ICC and World Cleanup Day models serve as a strong indicator of what citizens desire – a clean and healthy, waste-free planet.