Education is key


Education is the most important tool when it comes to fighting the ongoing battle with litter.

With more than 270,000 tonnes of rubbish polluting the oceans and more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic, it is no wonder rubbish is a lethal threat to marine animals.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) conservation staff along with dedicated volunteer groups continually remove litter from our coastal areas throughout the year with increased efforts over the busy holiday period.

A huge proportion of mis-handled waste ends up back in the ocean where it harms marine life.
A huge proportion of mis-handled waste ends up back in the ocean where it harms marine life.

GORCC conservation supervisor Georgie Beale is disappointed at the amount of litter in our oceans and believes that education is vital in reducing its presence in our coastal environments.

“Education is the key to overcoming the battle with litter. Getting kids to change their behaviour and bin their rubbish will make a huge difference to the environment.

“We have incorporated marine debris into our educational programs to inform people about how important it is to keep our beaches clean,” Ms Beale said.

“We teach groups about the Take 3 for the Sea campaign which is a simple idea that encourages everyone to take three extra pieces of rubbish with them as they leave the beach.

“Our biggest challenge is reaching those who don’t care and don’t understand their impact on our unique marine wildlife which is why educating young children is so important,” Ms Beale explains.

The amount of litter in the oceans is constantly increasing. Much of it degrades very slowly. Plastic bottles and nylon fishing line are particularly durable. Although many plastics break down into smaller fragments, it will take decades or even centuries (estimated timescales) for them to disappear completely. Source: Maribus (World Ocean Review)
The amount of litter in the oceans is constantly increasing. Much of it degrades very slowly. Plastic bottles and nylon fishing line are particularly durable. Although many plastics break down into smaller fragments, it will take decades or even centuries (estimated timescales) for them to disappear completely. Source: Maribus (World Ocean Review)

Top 10 marine debris items

  1. Cigarettes/ cigarette filters
  2. Bags (plastic)
  3. Food wrappers/ containers
  4. Caps/lids
  5. Beverage bottles (plastic)
  6. Cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons (plastic)
  7. Beverage bottles (glass)
  8. Beverage cans
  9. Straws, stirrers (plastic)
  10. Bags (paper)

Local Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast volunteer John Foss said the educational programs that are offered in schools and through GORCC are making a huge difference in teaching the next generation about the hazards of litter.

“What we need is for people to stop treating our coast as an ashtray.

“Unfortunately it is often the visitors that cause the most damage to the coast as they have not received the education locals have about caring for our environment.

“We need a national anti-litter campaign that targets young people and beachgoers in a multilingual format to get the message across,” said Mr Foss.

Although we cannot eliminate the world’s marine litter, we can make a difference along our precious beaches by encouraging others to keep the beaches clean.

Click here to find out more about volunteering along the surf coast.

How do you look after our coast? Comment below.

Related blogs:

Jan Juc kids listening as GORCC Conservation Worker Pete Crowcroft talks about beach litterBeach Kinder a hit with kids
A huge proportion of mis-handled waste ends up back in the ocean where it harms marine life.Australia’s dirtiest beaches exposed
Surfcoast Shire's Cr David Bell together with GORCC's Georgie Beale encouraging beachgoers to take 3 pieces of rubbish when they leave the coast this summer.Take 3 to keep coast healthy

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