When thousands of small polystyrene balls mysteriously washed up on Kāpiti beaches recently, the local community and two council staff members came to the rescue!
In response to lots of pleas from the public via Facebook for something to be done, our Sustainable Communities Co-ordinator Vanessa Crowe started promoting a beach clean-up while Waste Minimisation Officer Katharina Kennedy phoned the regional council to discuss the likely source of the balls and what could be done about them. They recommended the best course of action was to clear the balls away over a sustained period of time, as they would likely move in and out with the tides for some time.
Thanks to the communities enthusiasm and Vanessa’s organising skills, around 30 people (residents, council staff members and some overseas tourists) spent several hours on Raumati Beach filling two big bags of rubbish – about half of which was polystyrene balls.
The following week saw the Goldsborough Ave Greener Neighbourhood group organise a weekend clean up, inviting their neighbourhood and the wider community along. There was a terrific turn out of over fifty people, who continued to sift through the sand, seaweed and driftwood to collect the balls.
It seems there is no other way but to patiently persist with picking the balls up. Thankfully the Eco Action group will also be leading another weekend clean up on March 6 and Raumati resident Chris Webb has organised a weekly beach clean-up on Wednesday nights at 5:30pm for more information visit the Wednesday Night Beach Clean Up facebook page.
Coincidentally this week is Seaweek, a nationwide campaign to care for our beaches. There are many other events planned in other parts of Kāpiti. Find out more on the Seaweek What’s on page
“Beach clean-ups are a great way of getting people in the community together to do something about the rubbish problem in these spaces,” Katharina Kennedy says.
“They also raise awareness of the marine pollution issue. Rubbish, especially plastic, causes a lot of harm in the ocean. It breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces which ocean wildlife can mistake for fragments of food. If ingested, the fragments can make them sick or result in starvation as their stomachs become full of plastic. Pollutants can also attach to the surface of the plastic fragments which are then eaten by fish and the pollutants are absorbed into their bodies. If we eat the fish, we too absorb the pollutants and our health can suffer.”