Keep our beaches clean

LETHAL LITTER: Nahoon Beach has one of the highest incidence of plastic pollution on SA’s beaches
Picture ALAN EASON

Even though we’ve all gone back to school or started work, it’s still summer time here in BCM which means the beaches are still jam-packed. I was actually amazed on Monday just how full it was when my family and I went down for a picnic – the entire carpark on Nahoon Corner was taken and even Nahoon Reef was busy.

We all love our beaches down here but there is such a thing as loving something a bit too much. Anyone who’s taken a walk along the beach the morning after a big weekend can tell you about the mountains of trash that is often left behind by party-goers.

Bottles, food wrappers, and even nappies and used condoms (yuck) lie strewn across the beach, sometimes just left there in the sand without any effort by the previous owner to hide their mess. Then there’s the ash of someone’s braai which is often just tipped into the rocks and forgotten about.

The tendency of people to litter on the beach is problematic for a number of reasons. First, there’s the environmental concerns.

Plastic rubbish is non-biodegradable and once it’s in the natural ecosystem, it’s next to impossible to remove. This plastic is then eaten by all manner of marine life, ultimately choking them to death as well as potentially choking anything that tries to eat their carcass.

We covered a story last year about a some sea birds that were discovered tangled in an abandoned fishing net. This is just one example of how the stuff we leave behind harms others. It’s not an exaggeration to say our litter kills animals and in a world where the environment is under pressure from all sides, there’s no need for us to add to its misery.

There’s also the health hazards to consider. Broken glass is dangerous. When it’s shattered among the rocks or bins it’s bad enough, but when it’s left in the sand where it’s hard to spot, then it’s just a matter of time before a walker, maybe even a child, steps on it and slices their feet open.

THIS IS FINE: Someone decided the bins were too far at the EL Beachfront
Picture: MATTHEW FIELD

This extends to people who let their dogs defecate on the beach and then don’t clean it up (you know who you are).
Not only is it gross to have the whole beach smell of dog mess, it also eventually gets washed into the river and sea where it contributes to the already bad e coli contamination.

Finally, a dirty beach is just unpleasant to look at or visit. Beaches are meant to be places where we go to relax and have fun with friends or family. That’s hard to do when all you can see is the remains of a dozen other people’s picnics or dog walks. It’s bad for tourists, who will likely overlook us next time they decide where to go, and it’s bad for locals, who have to live among all this mess.

So, if you’re going down to the beach anytime soon, please remember to be considerate. Pick up your rubbish when you’re done and place it in the many bins available. If you’re not near a bin at the moment, put all your rubbish into a bag and carry it to the bin on the way out. And if you’re walking a dog, please for the sake of our feet and nostrils, pick up after them.

Keeping the beach clean is all of our responsibility and if we all do our part, then Nahoon Beach will be a far more pleasant experience for everyone.

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