Sustainable Coastlines for a Sustainable Future
Oceanmax is proud to support this New Zealand-based charity that has been coordinating large-scale clean-ups of beaches and waterways for 10 years.
While Oceanmax is obviously all about marine conservation, Jacobsen Holdings, Oceanmax’s parent company, cares about our oceans as well. As part of its ongoing impact initiative focusing on community and global sustainability, Jacobsen is partnering with Sustainable Coastlines, a New Zealand-based organization that coordinates large-scale coastal clean-up events and educational programs. On 7 December, as part of their holiday event, Jacobsen employees will participate in a lunch-and-learn session at Sustainable Coastlines’ Flagship Education Centre in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter followed by a volunteer beach clean-up.
The registered charity has been hosting gatherings of this type since 2008, spreading a message of activism with the motto “Beautiful beaches, healthy waters, inspired people.” A small but dedicated staff of 10 works with a network of volunteers and collaborators to not only pick up refuse but also raise public awareness, raise funds and plant trees in riparian areas, or the interfaces between land and a river or stream. Here’s what the team, led by co-founders Sam Judd and Camden Howitt, have managed to achieve so far:
A big part of educating people about how plastics are polluting our environment is gathering data about the volume and types of plastics collected. Between December 2010 and April 2016, Sustainable Coastlines hosted 75 clean-up events, picking up 1,732,991 pieces of nonbiodegradable trash from beaches around New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, a staggering 77% of which were single-use plastics. The worst offenders, or the “Filthy Five,” were food wrappers and containers, caps and lids, plastic bags, polystyrene foams and plastics of unknown origin.
“Single-use plastic bags are a poster child for the issue of plastics in our environment,” says Howitt. “Plastic bags are one of the worst offenders found during beach clean-ups, making up over 7% of the litter we collect from coastlines.”
But this shameful statistic should soon drop drastically. In August 2018, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced that single-use plastic shopping bags would be phased out over the next year. The decision stems in no small part from pressure from groups like Sustainable Coastlines, with two out of three Kiwis noting their concern about plastics accumulating in the environment. It’s also the number-one thing that schoolchildren write to Jacinda about.
Howitt called it “a big victory for the people of Aotearoa and for the places we love. It shows us how strong our voices are, no matter how old or young. It shows that if we stand up for our values, our leaders will listen.”