Cleaning up the world

That’s a slight exaggeration. It wasn’t really the world we were cleaning up. It was just one beach. But it’s a start…

In 2001, an amazing New Zealander was killed by pirates whilst on some sort of Amazonian mission. Sir Peter Blake is best known as the guy that won us the America’s Cup. More importantly, he dedicated his life to cleaning up the world’s oceans. He sailed around the world 5 times (not in a row of course) and became aware of the deterioration of the cleanliness of the oceans. He made it his aim to teach us about the importance of water to our quality of life. As New Zealanders, the ocean is a part of our existance. In Auckland you can’t look out the window without seeing it.

When Sir Peter died, a trust was started up in his name. The goal of that trust is to encourage environmental awareness. The company that I work for is in partnership with the trust and they encourage us to take two days leave a year in order to help clean up the coastline.

New Zealand beaches are comparitively clean in a global sense. I’ve been to many countries where otherwise beautiful stretches of coastline are ruined by lines of rubbish at the high tide mark. Indonesia is especially bad. McDonalds and KFC packaging litters the golden sand for as far as the eye can see. It’s sickening.

So yesterday my team spent the morning collecting rubbish from a beach and documenting what we found. It was pretty disappointing. To be fair, we only collected a couple of cleansacks full of rubbish over about a km of coastline, but in a relatively unspoiled country where rubbish bins are plentiful, there is just no excuse for littering.

I learned that it takes 2 years for orange peel to biodegrade. That’s phenomenal. It’s nothing compared to glass however, which apparently takes a million years (how the hell they know that I have no idea).

The picking up of the rubbish itself is never going to make a difference without education. So next time you go to drop something on the ground, don’t.

We only get this one world.

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