Sunshine Coast. By the waves, along the warm east Australian Current. Between subtropical rainforest and never ending sandy beaches. That is where I am based. I am one of those many people that hope for a small eastern swell, with offshore wind, so I can get some waves on the surfboard this morning. It is a normal Thursday, and the natural alarm of twenty different birds singing out loud wake me up at 05.30. Time to go, the ocean awaits. In this post I will present the place I live, some of my not too good habits, and my first step towards tavaha-progress.
With a population over 350 000 and with millions of guests every year, the Sunshine Coast Beaches get a lot of visitors the whole year round (Population Australia, 2019). It seems like they are all up early. Before the sun gets too hot. Before work. Before breakfast. Before the day can start. Before the shops open. They are all following the same schedule – the sun is up, beach first.
Through my eyes, the coast and beaches look clean. The council have had a couple of years running a marine debris reduction program on the coast, and from late 2016 to July last year, 428 waterway and beach cleanups were organised and 107000 pieces and 3867 kg litter was collected (Sunshine Coast Daily, 2018). Data from beach cleanups, show that hard and soft pieces of plastic and cigarette stumps is the most common items found on the beaches in this area (Readfearn & Ball, 2018), and I am learning to have a closer look.
After a few days picking it up, it is suddenly hard for me not to see those colourful small pieces of plastic among all the natural sea plants, shells and rocks that have been washed up on the beach with the tide. I can also tell you that in this very minute, the man 50 meter down the beach from me is leaving his cigarette butt right where he is sitting.. The question is if he knows that it can take 18 months to 10 years for the cigarette to decompose (Martin, 2018).
I took the car down to the beach, “like everyone else here” with their surfboards, paddle boards, and SUPs. I often forget my reusable bags when I’m going to the supermarket and the same happens with my reusable coffee cup. I fly to the other side of the world to experience this. I still often buy cheap shampoo and conditioner because it is easier, and I am no vegan. Not even a vegetarian. I do aim for meat-free days during my week though. I look at myself as a work in progress, and I hope you want to progress with me.
Today I start a daily challenge for myself, and you (if you want to tavaha-progress with me). I will spend a minimum of 20 minutes every day on the beach for the main purpose of picking up what doesn’t belong there. Will you clean up in your local area with the same purpose? That be in the forest or on the beach, rubbish out in nature will eventually find its way out to the ocean it’s been said, so pick it up wherever you are. How much did you collect during your week? Let me know how you go (in pieces, kg or whatever)!
I hope you feel like you got to know my local environment and me a bit better as you read this post, and that you will clean up with me. Next week I will try out the Australian version of “Pant” (recycling bottles), for the first time in my life – I hope you will be back then. Until then, enjoy your weekend!
*Follow @tavahaaustralia on Instagram for more photos from my every day, and for following the clean up-challenge.
Population Australia (2019). Sunshine Coast Population 2019 http://www.population.net.au/sunshine-coast-population/
Readfearn & Ball (2018, april 18th). The great Australian garbage map: 75% of beach rubbish made of plastic https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2018/apr/18/the-great-australian-garbage-map-75-of-beach-rubbish-made-of-plastic
Sunshine Coast Daily (2018, jul 10th). Coast leads nation in beach, waterway clean-ups https://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/coast-leads-nation-in-beach-waterway-clean-ups/3463607/
Terry Martin (2018, nov 4th) Shocking global cigarette litter facts https://www.verywellmind.com/world-cigarette-litter-facts-that-will-shock-you-2824735