pixaby pollution plastic

International Coastal Clean Up Day: Why SA must care for its beaches…

Our seas are suffering: Saturday 16th September is the day where South Africans can make a difference…

pixaby pollution plastic

There is one thing that no corrupt politician or petty criminal can take away from South Africa: Its natural beauty. We’d very much like to keep it that way, so it’s a good job that tomorrow is International Coastal Clean Up Day.

The worldwide event looks to keep our beaches clean, both for our own enjoyment and the for the sake of the ocean’s eco-system.

Waste and plastic pollution have been earmarked as the biggest threat to sea-life. Floating plastic particles become toxic and pollute the waters. Not only that, but when they are inadvertently digested by birds and fish, they swell in the stomachs of the animals. They are unable to eat, and eventually starve to death.

The facts about sea pollution

  • Plastic has been found in 62% of all sea birds and in 100% of sea turtle species.
  • The organisation said that together they had managed to pick up more than 8.3 million kilograms of rubbish, which amounted to more than 700 African elephants
  • 1.5 million plastic bottles were recovered from the ocean in 2016’s International Coastal Clean Up.
  • Scientists estimate that more than 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year.
  • This means that soon there will be one kilogram of plastic for every three kilograms of fish in the ocean.

(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.)

If you thought plastic disposal was our only concern, you’ll need to give your head a wobble. Our oceans are stuffed full of ghastly waste products killing marine life. Last year alone, 1.8 million cigarette butts were dragged from the sea during the Coastal Clean Up day.

Read: Six bits of plastics that you need to (and can) stop using.

What are the oceans’ biggest pollutants?

Top 10 most common items found in the sea:

  1. Cigarette butts – 1.863 million
  2. Plastic bottles – 1.578 million
  3. Plastic bottle caps – 822,000
  4. Food wrappers – 762,000
  5. Plastic shopping bags – 520,000
  6. Plastic lids – 419,000
  7. Straws and stirrers – 409,000
  8. Glass bottles – 390,000
  9. Bin bags and other types – 368,000
  10. Foam takeaway containers – 365,000

(International Coastal Clean Up Day 2016)

How do these items get stuck in the sea?

Although our oceans are used as dumping grounds for the country’s most inconsiderate louts, that isn’t how our seas become so clogged with filth. Well, it isn’t the only factor any way…

Each time you drop a plastic item in the street, that item will end up in a storm-water drain. That then flows into a river and eventually ends up in the ocean or on a beach.

What needs to change to keep our oceans cleaner?

We spoke to Gregory Player, of Cape Town’s Clean C: A community outreach organisation that better environments through education and awareness programs. He was exceptionally honest about what needs to be done to address the issue of our suffering seas.

Selfie-addicts, look away now.

Gregory Player on what the day means…

Coastal Clean ups needs to be a lifestyle, rather than just one day. We honestly believe that with any community up-liftment project, there needs to be continuity and not just flash in the pan self-gratification. Where people pat themselves on the back, take a selfie, and say ‘oh, look at me’.

…On what’s been successful so far:

This year we are trialling separation at source at the cleanup and this has been massively successful. So as bags come off the beach – then we remove all items that can be recycled and then we send that away for recycling.

…On why Coastal Clean Up Day is so necessary:

Our oceans are been filled with rubbish. Fish are eating that rubbish and we are eating those fish. Animals are dying – seals, whales, dolphins, turtles with litter getting stuck in their digestive system.

How can South Africans get involved?

Tomorrow is International Coastal Clean Up Day, and there are plenty of events across Mzansi that you can get involved with. If you’ve ever enjoyed a day at the beach, then perhaps you owe it a favour?

Coastal Clean Up Day Events by Area

(All take place on Saturday 16th September)

Western Cape:

  • Blouberg Beachfront, 10:00
  • Melkbosstrand, 10:00
  • Sunset Beach, 10:00
  • Woodbridge Island, 10:00
  • Muizenberg, 09:00
  • Strand, 09:00
  • Gordons Bay, 09:00
  • Big Bay, 10:00
  • Sea Point 15:00 – (Facing the ocean) To the right of the pools
  • Glen Beach (Camps Bay) 10:00 – meet at the Glen Beach Parking lot
  • Fishhoek, 09:00
  • Glencairn Beach, 09:00

Eastern Cape:

King’s Beach: meet 09:30 on the beach next to the Surf Life Saving Club. Organised by WESSA and the Tourism Blue Flag Beach Stewards. Gloves and rubbish bags provided. Contact: Tim Douglas-Jones 082 775 8816.

Sardinia Bay: meet from 08:00 on the Sardinia Bay Beach parking lot.

Blue Water Bay: meet at 09:00 at the BWB swimming beach, at the bottom of Weinronk Way. Organised by the Zwartkops Conservancy. Bags provided but bring gloves. Contact: Jenny Rump 082 853 0700.

Blue Horizon Bay: meet at 09:00 at the car park. Organised by the local community. Bring bags/gloves.

Cape Recife: meet at 09:30 at Cape Recife lighthouse. Organised by Raggy Charters. Bring bags/gloves. Contact: Raggy Charters 073 152 2277.

Seaview: meet at 09:30 at the taxi terminus, as you come to Seaview from Kini Bay, in front of the first houses. Organised by Raggy Charters. Bring bags/gloves. Contact: Lloyd Edwards 084 552 2277.

Maitlands Beach: meet at 09:30 at the car park. Organised by the Algoa Bay Hope Spot Initiative. Bring bags/gloves. Contact: Lorien Pichegru 078 844 3863.


  • uMhlanga
  • Blue Lagoon
  • KwaMashu
  • Hammarsdale
  • The Mangroves
  • Ushaka Marine World
  • eManzimtoti
  • Hibberdene
  • Margate and Port Shepstone