The number of dead marine mammals that wash up on our shores continues to climb rapidly. These animals serve as a strong indicator for humanity’s negligent behavior towards our beaches, oceans, and environment as a whole. Sustainable Coastlines, located in Auckland, New Zealand, was established in 2008 to combat the growing pollution of rivers and ocean shores, to prevent further casualties.
To fulfill their mission, Sustainable Coastlines focuses their work on two pillars: prevention and treatment of water pollution. They organize beach clean-ups, tree plantings, create educational materials, and host educational programs with the hope to inspire volunteer ambassadors that will carry the message further. In a single event, Sustainable Coastlines collaborated with over 160 volunteers and collected approximately 2,000 liters of trash in Piha Beach, Auckland; 70% of which is plastic often found in seabirds and marine mammals.
Animal species are not the only ones affected. Highly polluted waters have a long-lasting impact on humans and the environment in general. According to a study by New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment, 45% of the water around the world today is unsafe for swimming and bathing; the rate at which water becomes unsafe for human use continues to climb. Especially during the rainy season, the litter on the streets and sidewalks is washed into drains, flows into rivers, and ultimately into the ocean.
Raising awareness plays a crucial factor in limiting and, ideally, preventing further ocean pollution. Sustainable Coastlines excels in sharing its expertise and research. Over the years, Sustainable Coastlines has perfected a safe and fun set of guidelines for running beach clean-ups. Ranging from a checklist of operation logistics, instructions on data collection, to fundraising tips, the guidelines give a thorough walkthrough of the tasks necessary prior to the event, during the event, and after the event for a successful beach clean-up. The organization trains a high volume of volunteers, Sustainable Coastlines’ future ambassadors, to lead awareness efforts. The ambassadors learn to educate others about ocean pollution. They provide training sessions on the nuts and bolts of running an ocean clean-up to wider audiences such as schools and organizations.
Since 2008, Sustainable Coastlines has collected over 1.5 million liters of trash but their main challenge continues to be raising awareness about the issue and expanding their projects beyond the beaches of New Zealand.
Photo credit: Sustainable Coastlines