Comment: If we clean up our act, we won't have to keep cleaning up our beaches

 Just some of the rubbish collected at the recent Town Beach clean-up. Photo: Facebook/Coastal Waste Warriors.

Just some of the rubbish collected at the recent Town Beach clean-up. Photo: Facebook/Coastal Waste Warriors.

On Sunday morning, my dad and I rolled up our sleeves and joined the Coastal Waste Warriors for their monthly beach clean-up.

We have always talked about joining in an event like this but always had an excuse every time the opportunity came around.

I wish we started earlier.

Joined by a team of more than 70 volunteers and armed with gloves and a rubbish bag, we scattered along Town Beach to "take out the trash".

At first glance, there did not appear to be that much litter around.

But a quick scour through the shrubs on the shore proved us wrong.

There were tiny pieces of wrappers, hard plastics, bottle caps, cans everywhere.

And so much of it was within an arm's reach of a rubbish bin.

Some was even buried in the dunes. While some might consider it laziness, I actually think it takes more effort to dig up and hide it in the sand than to take it to the bin.

We tallied up every piece of rubbish we collected to collate for the Australian Marine Debris Initiative database, as reported in this week's Mandurah Mail.

In just one hour we collected 75kg of litter.

Almost 500 pieces of food wrappers.

More than 2000 cigarette butts.

Almost 100 plastic shopping bags.

The clean-up was not only a chance for us to do something positive on a local scale but also to reflect. It was shocking to see for myself our toxic impact on the environment, the damage we are doing to our marine life - some of it irreversible.

In an interview with the Mandurah Mail, Coastal Waste Warriors founder Kirstin Field said sometimes she feels like just "a drop in the ocean".

I can understand that now. I was filled with a sense of just being overwhelmed by how much we found in such a small amount of time and in a small area.

While it was great to see so many volunteers, and so many children, giving up their Sunday morning sleep-in to help out, wouldn't it be better if we prevented the problem in the first place?

If we all did the right thing every day, we wouldn't need monthly clean-ups or an annual event where the entire nation gets their hands dirty for Clean Up Australia Day.

We live in such a beautiful country that boasts some of the world's best beaches and natural environments.

Cleaning up after ourselves is the only way we are going to hold on to that.

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