Litter and rubbish pollution continue to cause major problems on coastal reserves, hampering group efforts to protect the natural environment on the Surf Coast.
Each week the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee invests significant resources into cleaning up rubbish on the foreshore and incorporating litter collection into their education programs.
Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Environment and Education Manager Katie Dolling said it was important to engage with the next generation on the issues of pollution through their litter collection activity.
“The hands-on nature of our programs allows students to physically see the amount of litter that ends up in our coastal environments from everyday items like coffee cups, plastic bags and food packaging.
“We work with local schools to help promote positive relationships with the natural environment and encourage environmental stewardship for future generations,” she said.
Year 9 students from Northern Bay College collected more than 15 kilograms of rubbish near Park Lane, Torquay in a 20-minute period last week.
“It’s disappointing to see a large number of items collected are from single-use plastics, which continue to contribute to the 25 million tonnes of waste that goes into landfill across Australia each year,” Ms Dolling said.
Large-scale events on the Surf Coast like the Rip Curl Pro and Surf Coast Trail Marathon are showing leadership and initiative by banning all single-use plastics, including packaging for merchandise sold and food stalls at their event.
Anglesea-based event and tour company Tour de Trails Director Chris Ord believes Surf Coast businesses are leading the way in Victoria for implementing methods to help lessen impacts on the environment.
“We’ve implemented a cup-free aid station policy on both our Surf Coast-based events, the Surf Coast Trail Marathon in June and the Afterglow Night Trail Run in November, and have been impressed with the positive reaction from our participants who have willingly embraced the change.
“For event operators, often the most environmentally sound method is not always the easiest, quickest or cheapest, but it’s always worthwhile. I think we all need to do our bit, especially when there are gatherings of hundreds at events, it is critical we all pull our weight in terms of environmental stewardship,” he said.
Community members are encouraged to get involved and help protect the natural environment through simple steps.
“Using reusable shopping bags and bringing your own drink bottles and take away coffee cups are simple steps that can make a significant difference for our coastal environment,” Ms Dolling said.
“There are a number of volunteer groups that operate in the Surf Coast to help care for the natural environment through a variety of activities including litter collection and weed eradication and are always looking for a helping hand.”
Whether you have a spare hour or would like to make a continual commitment to protecting the coast, volunteer groups would love to hear from you. To find out more about your local volunteer group, or tips on how to protect the coast, go to www.gorcc.com.au.