25th Scavenge in Coffs!

25th Scavenge in Coffs!

We’re all about the trash, the tunes and the treasure at the Scavenge, and Saturdays Creekside Scavenge was all of that and more! We were stoked to be part of the local Council’s Sustainable Living Festival in Coffs Harbour where the likes of OKA performed a seriously funkilicious fusion of roots, Dreamtime and electro.

It was our first creek-side event and we were intrigued to see what would be scavenged. The Friends of Coffs Creek Landcare group host a regular clean-up of the area, so we teamed up with them to hit the litter hotspots they’d discovered. We were very glad to have their hands on board as our core Scavenge team was on the small side!

The creek wraps its way around the showground, with mangroves connecting the land and the water. At least 100 people helped us collect 444.5kg of rubbish from the banks of the creek, (which is our second biggest haul ever!). Sadly, we couldn’t even get the brunt of it as it was high tide, so the bases of the mangroves (where most of the litter collects) was underwater.

Not to mention that whilst many of the items collected were glass and plastic bottles, only 40kg could be recycled as most of it was too caked with mud! That meant only 2 of the 13 wheelie bins full of litter were yellow and the other 11 were red.

Just 100m up stream the creek runs directly under the A1 highway which became pretty apparent when every haul included food packaging and plastic bottles. Surprisingly though, our cigarette butt count was minute… less than 100 butts in 4 hours! This was a clear indication that the beaches – where we collect SO many butts – have a much higher concentration of foot traffic which leads to more butts being littered.

We had a 5 class yoga pass for One Conscious Breath Studio up for grabs for the most butts collected… We were very pleased to award it to Silvanna, who collected the most butts with only 15!!

There was some serious commitment shown by our Scavengers on Saturday… Most were more than happy to get muddy and messy for the cause of cleaning up our creek.

We had one family, The Barlcays, clean-up a 100m stretch on the of the opposite bank of the creek and collect 5 full bags of rubbish including 23 toy balls! This was definitely our biggest haul scoring themselves The Happy Frog plastic-wise hamper!

As usual we had an impressive spread of second-hand goods donated, including 119kg of pre-loved threads and countless boxes of books. For those that were after a thirst quenching beverage after all their hard work, they could head over to the Plantation Hotel with drink token in hand (worth: 20 pieces of litter) for a refreshing drink!

There was one item that kept us guessing. Initially we mistook it for wet nappies wrapped in a plastic film, but the more of them we pulled from almost every bag collected, the more apparent it became… Newspapers wrapped in a plastic sleeve that had turned into a soggy mess.

The local Advocate in fact! Clearly these papers get left on the nature strip and wash down the storm water drain, but because of the plastic sleeve they can’t simply break down so they sit in our waterways a heavy bundle of waste. It would be awesome to see the Advocate take responsibility and unslip these papers to reduce the number of them clogging our waterways!

As part of the event we also had a spectrum of cafés and restaurants who had taken the Plastic-Free Pledge for the day…

~ SuplyCoffee – No straws
~ GroundEarth – No straws or take-away food containers
~ SplitCafé – No straws & Topless on Coffees (no lids)
~ BaristaBarCafé – Strawless & Topless on Coffees (no lids)
~ Twenty46 – No straws
~ Club300Bowling&Bar – No straws, no coffee cups

Looking forward to hearing how it went for them!

The weirdest item of the day was a challenge to select…. We had everything from full wallets to 20m long piping to broken boomerangs and bike tyres to choose from. In the end it was the swivel/office chair collected by Amelia Campbell that scored the 3 class yoga pass to the Melting Pot Loft Yoga!

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And that was a wrap for our 25th Scavenge event! Thanks to the volunteers that made it along, the participants for collecting all the litter and the Council for hosting such a spread of DIY and waste awareness event.

 

Bigger and Better in Port Mac

Bigger and Better in Port Mac

It’s a wonderful thing when it turns out bigger and better second-time round, and that’s exactly what happened on Saturday! Almost a year ago to the day we hosted our first Port Macquarie Scavenge at Town Beach.

We had 160 people come lend a hand to clean-up all the way from Bonnie Hills to Settlement Point. That’s double the number of hands we had last year, but even better is we didn’t collect as much rubbish! 246.5kg compared to last years, 259kg! We had comments floating in that, ‘there’s nothing left on the beach!’.

Plus, it marked the first event for our Port Macquarie Seaside Scavenge Chapter supported by Port Macquarie Hastings Council and Taronga Zoo, and led by local legend Karen Fulton with the support of a handful of passionate and inspiring woman; Shan, Meegs, Amelia and Rhi… Without whom we wouldn’t of managed half of this epic day!

The day opened with Rhonda Radley who is a Birrbay woman from Port Macquarie. She welcomed us to connect and share the land we were standing on and to respect it alongside one another. The Boomerang Bags crew were set-up to share their DIY kits and the Climate Change Australia mob there to spread action against Adani.

Throughout the day we heard from Kate from Kate Caterers, who has successfully set up a completely plastic-free bakery… She even baked us a bunch of delicious loafs that were up for grabs for 3 trash tokens. Needless to say they were gone before the first hour was up!

Liam came down from Coastal Warriors to give us a hand and let people know how to get amongst the clean-up action on a regular basis. We had Maria Doherty from Council chat to our very own Plastic Pollution Solutions MC, Anthony Hill! Oh and a special ‘What’s recyclable?’ workshop by the Miss Rhi Rebellion.

Whilst all this was happening, the sorting station was a constant flurry of trash separating, counting and cataloging. Throughout the day, a total of 2,711 cigarette butts were collected. The most came in from Lee and Sherley with an epic haul of 430 and have scored themselves a surf lesson with Port Surf School!

There was also a constant stream of odd items being collected from fleece blankets with plants growing from it to number plates to street signs… but something we’ve never come across before was an entire camera lens. So well done to Emma’s dedicated crew of cleaners that scoured from Town to Flynns beach to collect 3 bags and a bucket of trash! We hope you enjoy your $100 voucher to Glasshouse.

The market was set-up with all kinds of colourful goods! Over 185kg of pre-loved threads, toys, books and more had been donated by the local Port community and snapped up throughout the day to the toe tapping tunes provided by local musos, Charleigh and Brock and later in the day by Todd Bourke…

Big appreciation goes out to Todd Bourke for his patience and understanding as our bike powered generator had to get an extra surge of power from some gung-hoe cyclists before we could kick off again!

There was a stack of support from all over town, with a whole heap of local businesses taking the plastic free pledge to avoid at least one single-use item on the day. Big shout out to:

·      Murray St Bakery
·      Salty Crew Kiosk
·      Drury Lane Eatery
·      Carlos & Co.
·      LVs On Clarence
·      Four Espresso
·      Social Grounds
·      Port City Bowling Club
·      Breakwall HQ

And the legendary crew over at The Duck for giving us 60 beers that could be purchased with just 2 trash tokens! Libby from Bunnings got in touch last minute to donate a whole heap of gloves in all sizes and tubs for the clean-up too.

There was something for everyone on Saturday, which is what we’re all about at the Scavenge… Bringing people together with a twist of fun, action and smiles to clean-up our coastline. Again, a massive thanks to Port Mac Council for funding the event and particularly Nicky Julian for ALL her extra-ordinary help.

The Scavenge is here to stay in Port, so for anyone in the area interested in getting involved there’s a crew of volunteers that you definitely want to get to know… We’re tingling with excitement to see where you guys take it.

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Scavenging, rain, hail or shine!

Scavenging, rain, hail or shine!

Whilst most people were tucked up inside with a warm cup of tea in hand, us Scavengers were braving the comparatively cooler temps and the pitter-patter of rain. The radar had said it would clear up for a couple of hours in the afternoon and that’s what we were holding out for.

Participants started rolling in at 1pm on the dot whilst it was still drizzling, but by 1:30pm the radar held true and we were underway.

Our new and improved bike generator, built by #1 scavenge volunteer Paul Phillips, was getting charged…  so the likes of Grace Brown on vocals and Matt Stacey on guitar could bring on the good vibes!

Of course there was no shortage of butts to be found, with our total tally reaching 3,281. The most butts was actually collected by Tanya with over 300! Scoring herself a 5-class pass to The Collaborative Maroubra.

Participants were bringing in bags packed to the brim; everything from thousands of Styrofoam balls, stacks of soft plastic packaging to straws and coffee cups, countless plastic lids and so much more.

In total 306.8kg of litter was collected including a 120kg of recycling from Maorubra. Very grateful for the support from Randwick City Council who promptly came down and collected all the litter… Somewhat disheartening to see all our tirelessly separated litter go into the same truck though!

Oh and how could we forget, the Underwater Research Group led by Rianti Bieler took a journey down to Bare Island and dived below the depths to pick-up 26.7kg of rubbish! This included 13.5kg of fishing sinkers, 3.5kg of dive weights and 9.7kg of mixed rubbish! Taking the total weight for the day to 333.5kg!!

There were a LOT of odd items being pulled in from the surrounding area; from car rims to Marvel characters to vibrators to street signs. But by far the strangest (and creepiest) item had to be the washed out framed portrait of a baby found by Emma… Scoring herself a surf lesson with the crew at Lets Go Surfing. NO idea how this ended up at the beach!

We had over 250kg of pre-loved clothes, toys and books set-up in the market, all of which had been donated by the Maroubra community in the weeks leading-up to the Scavenge. Shout-out to all the people who picked out some quality items from their wardrobe to go to the Scavenge!

Not only were there clothes and books to buy with the litter currency but also delicious beverages from The Bay Hotel & Diner. A massive thanks to Troy, Brendan, Olivia and Nathan and all the staff for their support on the day and rewarding our core Scavenge volunteers with a much needed beverage and burger!

We had a crew of about 15 volunteers down there on the day to make the Scavenge happen. They set-up in the rain, they smiled all the way through sorting litter, signing them in and even during the mad flurry of pack-up whilst the rain started to pelt. As usual, nothing would be possible without them, so hats off to them all!

To wrap up the day we had Billsbry aka Charlie Fisher, a veteran musician at the Scavenge, come down and perform some funkilicious beats. Before that we heard from Eva from Responsible Runners and Aleysha from the Helm Society talk about the fast fashion industry.

We also had 8 cafés doing their bit to clean-up the ocean by taking our Plastic-Free Pledge on Saturday. This committed them to avoiding at least one single-use item on the day of the event:

1.     The Grumpy Baker – no bags
2.     Pavilion Beachfront – no coffee lids, no straws, no bags
3.     Beverage Depot – no bags, 50c off coffee for takeaway customer
4.     Zeebra Café – no straws
5.     The North EndC afé – no straws, no lids
6.     Flamez Eatery – no takeaway containers
7.     Chalk Espresso – no plastic bags
8.     Marini Café– no plastic bags

As we proved again on Saturday thanks to the 108 participants that braved the unpleasant, rainy weather, cleaning up and looking after our beaches can be an epic amount of fun. But if all we do it clean-up, then that’s all we’ll ever do… So, if we can all stop using at least one single-use plastic item like coffee cups or straws then there’s one lot of rubbish that we won’t need to worry about!

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5 Brilliant Businesses Drumming-up Cash for the Scavenge!

5 Brilliant Businesses Drumming-up Cash for the Scavenge!

We’re just 7 days out from our first Corporate Fundraiser event and we can’t deny the butterflies are fluttering. There are 5 Sydney-based businesses that have taken on The Scavenger Hunt opportunity, to help us raise funds for a new set of wheels to Scavenge all over the country.

We don’t want to give too much away but let’s just say there’s going to be a fair amount of recycling know-how put to the test, some peddling power required and even a needle and thread involved.

We would like to introduce the 5 brilliant businesses participating on Friday 20th October at Coogee:

1.    Crestone - https://www.crestone.com.au

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Crestone Wealth Management provides wealth advice and portfolio management services to high-net-worth clients and family offices, not-for-profit organisations and financial institutions.

They pride themselves on having a collaborative and connected workplace. Between the Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane office there are 170 employees who have worked with one another for an average of 10 years!

Unfortunately we can’t cater for all 170 of them, but we’re excited to have 5 of the Crestone crew joining us for the Scavenger Hunt.

2.    Mackay Goodwin - http://www.mackaygoodwin.com.au/

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Mackay Goodwin is a leading advisory firm specialising in Corporate Recovery, Turnaround & Restructuring, and Real Estate Advisory.

They’re a dynamic team with innovative expertise and experience who deliver on complex problems faced by multiple stakeholders to small business issues.

There’s no disputing the dynamic presence of Mackay Goodwin, especially as they’ve submitted two teams to participate next week!

3.    CBS Interactive - http://www.cbsinteractive.com.au/

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CBS Interactive is leader in online content network for tech, gaming and entertainment. 

Based in the US with sister companies dotted all over the world, including one here in the heart of Sydney.

We’ve seen the creativity flow from this lot with some of the most original fundraiser ideas… Definitely looking forward to seeing what they bring to the table on the 20th. 

4.    Google - https://www.google.com/about/

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We all know who Google is and more or less what they get up to.

The Google Australia branch lives up to all the tales of creating a cutting-edge and green work environment for its employees.

4 Google-ites will be put to the test next Friday, to see just how enviro savvy they really are!

5.    The Developing Clean - http://www.thedevelopingclean.com/

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The Developing Clean is an Online Store that provides simple, sustainable and plastic-free lifestyle products for everyday use.

The Developing Clean is a Sydney founded social enterprise that donates 10% of their annual profits to clean initiatives.

These guys have a big space in their heart for plastic-free living, so we’re looking forward to having them down in Coogee to spread the re-use love.

As with all our Coogee events, we have the support of the legends at the Coogee Pavilion where we'll be hosting the awards ceremony upstairs in Wylie's Shed, and hearing from the one and only, Huw Kingston. Huw is the man behind the first plastic water-bottle free town, Bundanoon!

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We hope these teams are getting clued up on all the recycling facts, warming up their muscles and all round thinking in terms of re-use and upcycling…because there’s only one Trash Trophy to be won.

Let the countdown begin!

Microfibers Contaminating Oceans & The Food Chain

Microfibers Contaminating Oceans & The Food Chain

*** Re-published from The Sustainable Cat ***

If anyone grew up watching The Simpsons, they'll know the famous catch phrase of Bart Simpson "eat my shorts". I never thought that phrase would be so relevant to humanity, until the rising issue of 'microfibers' from clothing has been splashed all over the media from environmental reports. To break it down (no pun intended) - Microfibers are tiny synthetic fibers from synthetic apparel (Polyester, Nylon, Spandex, Rayon or Acrylic) that are less than 5mm in length. These tiny fibers shed from clothing when they are washed and manage to filter out into rivers and oceans.

Problem

There have been various scientific studies world wide into the environmental effects of plastic in the ocean on marine life, with microfibers falling into the category of microplastics (small pieces of plastics that filter into the oceans and aquatic life). The conclusions from these studies are pretty shocking, showing that a huge number of microfibers are in oceans and rivers. One study by Mark Browne published in 2011 by Environmental Science & Technology,  found that marine life and habitats in coastlines around the world were highly contaminated with microfibers. It's suggested that this may be derived from sewage as a consequence of washing clothes. 

The World Economic Forum estimates that in just 35 years, the amount of plastic trash in the ocean will outweigh all the fish.

These microfibers in the ocean are mistakenly consumed by marine life, which we then consume as part of the food chain...so yes we are in fact eating our own clothes. The worst part is, microfibers in water expand and attract different forms of harmful bacteria and pollutants. This all makes one toxic meal for us to consume. The health effects of plastic contamination are disgusting - just look at the recent story of the whale in Norway that washed up sick with 30 plastic bags in it's stomach. Further studies are here. 

Variables

The outdoor apparel brand Patagonia has been a key change maker in the apparel industry, investing large funding grants into studies to find out more about microfibers. A project called 'MICROFIBER POLLUTION & THE APPAREL INDUSTRY' by the University of California funded by Patagonia, researched the variables that could effect the release of microfibers and how that could be used to change the textile industry and social behaviour. This study revealed that the amount of microfibers released from clothing change significantly between a number of factors; apparel age, fabric quality, washing machine type, fabric type and fabric construction. Basically - the older and poorer quality clothing washed in a top loader machine will produce vastly more microfibers. Sad news for second hand and vintage shoppers (trust me, I'm devastated). 

The Inventions

Thankfully to every problem, someone out there gives a shit and is investigating ways to help. The solution to microfibers is stopping them be released during the washing process. The next process is perhaps going to the appliance industry and waste operators and encouraging new filters and systems to be put into place.

Guppy Friend is a great innovative solution to the microfiber issue and the first of it's kind. It's a bag that you can put your clothes in before placing it in the washing machine. The bag allows the clothes to be washed but microfibers can't be released. They are then left behind and can be disposed of in the bin. Some brands have picked up on this solution and may start selling in the near future! 

Microfibers under a microscope 

Cora Ball - this is an incredible design, inspired by coral and made from 100% recycled materials. It is currently on Kickstarter getting pre-orders, produced by an innovative team of people that have been working on ocean protection for 7 years. The ball sits in the washing machine and just like coral, allows water to flow, while picking up those little pieces of microfiber and catching them. I'm pretty looking forward to pre-ordering one of these!

Cora Ball in a washing machine

Moving Forward

The fashion industry is a big problem for the environment and brands are starting to be put under the spotlight by consumers so they need to get their shit together. In today's society, everyone is obsessed with fast fashion - Greenpeace recently wrote a report that 60% of clothes are made with the synthetic material polyester. This is why the solution is not to simply phase out synthetic materials as it won't happen, unless there is an incredible alternative.

Brands and industries (appliances / apparel) need to actually care for the impact they make on the world and make better quality clothing. They should always be investing in science and technology, looking for new ways to change the fashion industry for good with the evidence to back it up. The clothing brand G-Star Raw recently partnered with Plastic Soup Foundation to encourage other apparel brands and retailers, textile producers, and washing-machine manufacturers to support the Ocean Clean Wash. This is a great message for other brands to follow. 

Consumers can also do their part aside from buying / using the inventions above. Consumers should buy good quality clothing that will produce less microfibers but also clothes that will last and be produced with less chemicals. A big solution is to wash less, hang your clothes out in the air or hand wash stains. Also demand more from your clothing brands, invest in good companies that are invested in the future - consumers have the power to make change!

Record Breaking Lakeside Scavenge!

Record Breaking Lakeside Scavenge!

Saturday held a lot of firsts and surprises for the Scavenge:

The first lakeside Scavenge.

The first inland event with a population less than 10,000.

The first time we’ve EVER had to do a run to the tip mid-Scavenge (more on that later).

Jindabyne is a town nestled in the valley of the Snowy Mountains with a big man-made lake. In the warmer months it is home to around 3,000 people but when winter settles in, the town swells to hold around 25-30,000 seasonal folk.

As with any seasonal town there’s a tricky balance to be found between tourism, money-making and respect for the area. The response we saw at Saturday’s Scavenge was clearly a long awaited opportunity for the community to get together and clean up after yet another winter of trashing.

The balance appears to be out.

Over 750kg of litter was collected in just 3 hours from all over Jindabyne. Needless to say, we were completely unprepared for that amount of litter.

We have hosted 21 events from Townsville through to Mornington Peninsula and at all except 1 we have managed to fit all the litter into 7 wheelie bins.

It was just an hour and a half into the Lakeside Scavenge when Jim Crocker and Tyler generously offered their truck to take the first load of the tip. They weighed in with 60kg of waste and 40kg of recycling.

In the half an hour they were gone, the remaining 2 x 340L bins were overflowing, The cue at the sorting station was only growing and the quantity of litter being collected increasing. People were coming in with ute loads full!

Over the 3 hours we had 120 kids, adults and grand-parents roll through the event with at least a full bag each (if not 5 bags), packed to the brim with everything from food packaging to bongs and bottles.

The majority of items collected were beer bottles and cans which is no surprise as these line the streets of Jindabyne most Thursday and Sunday mornings. So a suggestion of bins near the pubs could be a good place to start. (And a non-judgemental eye from the security guys on the door to whomever places an empty vessel in there.)

Hannah Pembroke persevering after 2.5hour sorting litter!

The wind is definitely a factor to include in this tale. Since, a lot of this rubbish was attributed to wheelie bins knocked over by the gusts on garbage collection day, can we not across the Snowy Region start to use bin clips, to keep the bin lid down?

Even if it does take the garbage man an extra 30 seconds to remove, surely for the sake of a cleaner town we could make the change.

Regardless of all that the best part is that 750+kg of rubbish is no longer lying around Jindabyne. Whether it was influenced by the 100 beers donated by the Banjo or the 120+kg of pre-loved stuff in our pop-up market or even the spread of generous prizes from businesses around town or even more likely just the urge from locals to tidy-up their town, we are absolutely stoked to have helped!

All the volunteers who scoured through 560+kg of litter before we ran out of bins, a masssssive thank you! The talented musicians, Kahli Henley, Jade Locke, Scott Harris and Paul James whom kept the good vibes coming all day—It wouldn’t have been anything without you. And the talks from Belinda Ingram from Council, Huw Kingston from Plastic-Bottle Free Bundanoon, Susan Shelley from Boomerang Bags and Sheri Dust from The Market Jindabyne, we appreciated your insights into all aspects of reducing single-use plastics in our daily lives.

Talking of which, three local businesses including The Market Jindabyne, Jindy Juice Bar and CBD café also took our Plastic-Free Pledge on the day of the Scavenge. They took this opportunity to not serve straws, to go ‘topless’ on coffees (no lids) and to offer 50c discounts to takeaway customers with their own mug. Thank you for taking the plunge, over 450 single-use plastic items were avoided on the day. We hope to have even more venues registering for the pledge next year!

On that note, the Scavenge intends to return next year bigger and better. If you’ve got any ideas on just how to do that, then get in touch. Until then, thank you Jindabyne for being a record-breaking town not just in litter but in community spirit!

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Traveling Trash Troupe Debut in Coffs Harbour

Traveling Trash Troupe Debut in Coffs Harbour

There’s been so much happening on the Scavenge front that it’s been hard to find a moment to sit down and recap on our first Traveling Trash Troupe. Seaside Scavenge has recently teamed up with Boomerang Bags and Plastic Pollutions Solutions to create a package of good vibes, education and action on waste reduction.

It’s been a wild ride getting to this point and we couldn’t be more over the moon that Coffs Harbour City Council were the first to jump behind it. Special shout out to Leanne Cheal and Shelli van Santen for being our backbone through it all.

One of our key focuses is on single-use plastics education for younger generations. And who better to do that than Anthony Hill from Plastic Pollution Solutions. This guy has dedicated the last 5 years to telling as many people as possible about the pollution that ends up in our big blue. He travels around in his beloved van Bev, and hosts epic presentations and trivia comps all over Australia.

Of course, this was no different… Except we got to tag along too and spiel some Seaside Scavenge goodness! We hung out with years 4, 5 and 6 at Coffs Harbour Primary School and Mullaway Primary. It was such a treat to work with these youngsters, clean-up their playgrounds and (hopefully) inspire them to be plastic-free warriors of the future.

Anthony Hill doing what he does best!

Anthony Hill doing what he does best!

And that was just the beginning of the fun. The next day we jumped in on the Boomerang Bags Gathering which bought together established BB groups from the area. The discussion was led by founders Tania and Jordyn and we touched on everything from sewing techniques to strategies for collaboration and future ventures to create change and connection in the wider Coffs community… The passion and enthusiasm was radiating from the room!

Then it was time for some Scavenging action on the Sunday! Thanks to the legendary Kim Towner who is igniting plastic-free action all over Coffs, we set-up down at her Harbourside Markets along the Coffs Creek.

The early start didn’t deter any of our Scavengers! We had people of all ages signing up from 8am on the dot and heading out in all directions. The sweet sounds of Pat Tierney kicked the sorting station into gear and we were well underway.

Throughout the day there was everything from computer hard-drives to Viagra pills found around the place. We had a bundle of wicked prizes that were up for grabs:

·      $50 at Supply Specialty Coffee and Joco cup from Bluebottle Brasserie for MOST LITTER went to Heather with 521 pieces

·      $50 at Café Treeo and Joco cup from Bottle Brasserie for MOST BUTTS went to Leon and Lin with 900+ butts

·      $50 at Twenty 46 and Joco Cup from Bluebottle Brasserie for the WEIRDEST ITEM went to Isabel with the hard-drive

·      $50 at Split Café for MOST STRAWS went to Anna with 20 straws

·      $50 at Palate&Ply for FURTHEST SCAVENGED went to Sienna and Ruby who scavenged all the way down to Boambee!

Lin and Leon's butt haul!

Lin and Leon's butt haul!

We had Jetty Dive organise an underwater clean-up of the Jetty during the morning and provide free air tank refills for all the divers... so epic! These eco warriors pulled 100’s of metres of fishing wire, tyres and even a rusted out and barnacled bike from the water!

The Jetty Dive Crew

The Jetty Dive Crew

Then there were all the amazing cafés and restaurants that took our Plastic-Free Pledge. This committed them to avoiding at least ONE single-use item on the day. We had an overwhelming response from local businesses from Sawtell to Woolgoolga:

·      Taffy’s – Topless on coffees (no lids)

·      Twenty46 – No straws

·      Barista Bar – Strawless and lidless!

·      Supply Speacialty Coffee and Bar – No straws (replaced with stainless steel!)

·      Split Café and Espresso Bar – No Straws

·      Happy Frog – ‘Topless’ on coffees (no lids)

·      Ground Earth – No straws and 50c discount on coffees in reusable cups       

We received some smile worthy feedback from café owners about the reception of the pledge. Of course, there were still customers that needed those little conveniences but there were over 350 straws and coffee lids saved from landfill on the day. No small feat!  Thank you to these businesses for giving this campaign a platform.

Then of course a big shout-out to Darren at Element Bar for donating a 100 drink tokens that could be purchased for just 20 pieces of litter! A well earnt thirst quenching beverage was much appreciated by all.

We had over 184kg of second-hand goods donated by the wider Coffs community. The fast-fashion industry is the second-most polluting industry to coal and has devastating effects on our environment from landfill to water contaminated by dyes and the rest of it. Recycling between friends and repurposing our stuff is the best way to divert it from landfill.

Over the day we collected 195kg of litter including 53kg of recycling and 2,693 cigarette butts.  There were 150 people that helped bring it all in and over 80% of these people had never attended a clean-up, so a massive thanks to everyone for all their help.

The biggest pats on backs has to go to our awesome team of volunteers separating and sorting litter into recyclables and non-recycables all day long… The Scavenge wouldn’t even be possible without these special people.

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Best news of all, is we’re back for Coffs Sustainable Living Festival on 18th of November. So see you all again for some more change-making action!

 

 

Would you like some more plastic with that?

Would you like some more plastic with that?

I am reminded whilst spreading my jar of plastics from the month of July out over my coffee table just how much this petroleum-based product infiltrates every corner of our lives. It’s a massive challenge to do anything from downtime to kitchen time or even to care of our own health without plastics… which I’m starting to realise, is at odds with one another.

Health and hospitals carry a big plastic footprint, which I’ve managed to avoid most of my life. Except for last month when I had my first trip to an operating room to get my wisdom teeth out. The whole process from dentist to orthodontist to surgeon was a big eye opener in the number of packets opened, syringes used and plastic cups I was asked to drink from. (We clearly need to get Rachel Shields, a Mental Health Clinical Advisor at Bentley Health Service in WA, over here to implement changes to save 70,000 plastic cups from ending up in landfill annually.)

I know there’s a justified reason for using plastics in health, but it doesn’t make the wastage any more bearable. Especially when I look at the other end of the spectrum of chocolates and tea.

Of course there are a bundle of ways to enjoy these two delights sans plastic. But I dropped the ball completely on this just within the first few days of PFJ; accepting a seeming innocent offer of Lindt balls only to realise while savouring the melting chocolate in my mouth that in my hands was the crinkle of wrappers.

My Earl Grey tea bag was a similar story. I’m usually a loose leaf gal but forget that an offer of tea often follows a bag and most teabags, particularly the square standard bags, are lined with a thin film of polypropylene to seal the sides together. 

Polypropylene is a thermoplastic and is represented by the recycling identification symbol 5. The material generates an annual market of 45 million metric tonnes with demand expected to rise to 62 million metric tons by 2020[1]. One guess who the major end user is?

The packaging industry!

Polypropylene (PP) is praised like an ancient god in the packaging industry for its versatility, strength and affordability. It has a melting point of 130 degrees Celsius which appears to make it quite durable for everyday use.

Reading about the effects of heating polypropylene and melamine resin (common plastics used for yogurt containers, picnic sets and even in baby formula[2]), studies and doctors are continually sited as saying the risk of toxins leaching is “pretty low” and that PP “doesn’t seem to leach many of the chemicals other plastics do”[3].

Ok, so ‘the risk is low’… but when we’re in contact with plastics from the moment we open our eyes to the second we close them at night, 365 days a year, for our entire lives, is the risk still low? Sipping on takeaway coffee lids, eating takeaway noodle soups, plastic particles have even been found in beer and flour… is the risk still low? Surely the concentration of these toxins build up in our system.

Many of you will think I’m some crazed, skeptic, greeny looking to put a hole through anything that comes from a non-renewable industry but look at the rise of infertility, prostrate and breast cancer, the dropping age of puberty in young girls and increased hyperactivity in kids since the 50’s… coincidentally when plastics came into common place for households.

Tell me how no connection can be made?

I started out on this plastic-free journey in an attempt to reduce my impact on the marine environment, but the more I’m immersed the more I realise it might actually be doing me quite a bit of good. Not surprising really, the more I do this stuff the more I realise that personal sacrifices for the environment reward me in bigger and better ways than I could have thought.

So although my coffee table is pretty full I’m going to continue on this plastic-free living venture. I will endeavor to be more conscience because that’s all I can do, each and everyday. Whatever you do to reduce your impact is better than nothing, so give it a crack... don’t wait until next July!

 

Here’s a list of all the plastics I used in July (see picture above):

-       1 x syringe packet

-       1 x syringe

-       1 x early grey + tea bag

-       1 x celery bag

-       2 x lindt balls

-       1 x balsamic vinegar plastic lid wrapping

-       1 x balsamic lid

-       1 x eyedrops

-       1 x milk/juice lid

-       3 x unidentifiable generic plastic

-       3 x clothing tags

-       2 x floss

-       1 x tongs packet

-       1 x biscuit packet

 

[1] https://www.creativemechanisms.com/blog/all-about-polypropylene-pp-plastic

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/health/talkinghealth/factbuster/stories/2013/04/23/3737325.htm

[3] http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/toxic-traps-when-these-7-types-plastic-are-dangerous

Who are we banning the bag for?

Who are we banning the bag for?

Friday’s news from leading supermarket giant Woolworths to phase out plastic bags by mid-2018 has received a wave of support that’s still breaking. Praise is coming in from all directions - from nationwide lobby groups to public servants (who are still bent on keeping tight-lipped about the government’s direction in this domain).

It made such a crash that major competitor Coles jumped on the wagon just 2 hours after Woolworths made the announcement. Then, Harris Farm upped the ante and committed to removing single-use plastic bags from their stores by January 1, 2018.

Woolworths reasoned the bag ban as “the right thing to do as one of Australia’s largest retailers”. Woolworths predicts that they burn through 3.2 billion bags per year. The direct costs attached to the production, transport, storage and distribution of these bags carries a price tag of $170 million per annum.

For big business to implement change before policy is significant in any movement. This is not to be downplayed. Nor is the significant drop in consumption of bags and their proliferation in our environment that the ban bag will deliver.

Yet, as the finer details of the ban come to light, it is difficult not to question the genuine roots of this decision. The current grey plastic-bags will be replaced with a ‘slightly thicker’ plastic bag at a cost of 15cents or a reusable ‘green’ bag can be purchased for $3.

Not only will these businesses be saving $170 million but they will be bumping their revenue up by $70 million from the sale of goods that still damage the environment. Coles and Woolworths profiteering from so-called eco-friendly bags is far from new news.

Both Clean Up Australia Day and Planet Ark Directors have expressed concern at the logical gap in addressing the problem of single-use plastics with this method. Green bags are made from polypropylene, which does not biodegrade and is dependent on oil (non-renewable) resources.

So a slightly thicker plastic bag or a reusable bag made without any community consultation or engagement of local business is the best they can come up with? On top of that, the absence of any discussion around using this revenue to support environmental clean-up efforts or waste education in schools is another disappointment.

It’s equally unsurprising and deflating to realise decisions framed to benefit the environment hang completely in the hands of economic gain.

So, in a world that pits the economy against the environment who exactly is this bag ban ‘the right thing’ for?

Wall Up Bondi - #banthebag

Wall Up Bondi - #banthebag

If you missed it last Sunday (June 4th) the Surfrider Bondi crew rallied the troops to challenge ocean pollution with the best vibes and fun to be had by building sandcastles.

There are between 8-13 million tonnes of trash dumped into our oceans every year! Most of which consists of single-use plastics such as plastic bags that are used for an average of only 7 minutes!!

The plan on Sunday was to build a sandcastle wall that spanned Bondi beach to protect our oceans from plastic pollution and call out local government, such as Gabrielle Upton, on this issue.

Plastic-bags are ONE thing that we can do something about here in NSW. It’s up to the leaders of this country to look beyond their 3-year term and start making decisions based on the longevity of the planet’s health and the humans that inhabit it.

Banning the bag is one of these decisions that must be made!

We cannot ignorantly and idly bundle along in life without addressing the ways in which our everyday actions impact the world around us.

So it was with big smiles that more and more people joined the chain of sandcastles on Sunday from 8am. There were hands from fellow organisations such as Take3, Responsible Runners, Transition Bondi as well as Seaside Scavenge which is always a pleasure to see and be part of!

The best part was the Sunday morning strollers, not knowing what was happening who eagerly took up post next to a big pile of sand and got working once they cottoned on to the #banthebag message.

And that’s just it; people are behind it! Yes it can be an inconvenience, but only if you let it be.

Most of us have hands or pockets, so use them! Especially if you’ve only got a couple items to carry. Don’t wrap your veggies in plastic, just put them in the basket and wash them at home… God knows they definitely have more pesticides on them than any germ you could catch from your average shopping trolley.

An enoooormous thanks to the Bondi organisers. Finger's crossed the message was heard!

If this is something you care about, change your behavior but also change the mind of your local leader. Hit them up on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, any medium with a short message, it’s bigger than signing a petition because it comes from you.

Or, join Boomerang Alliances Thundercap today, which will automically share the same post on all our accounts at 12pm today to #BANTHEBAG!

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/57953-give-the-oceans-a-voice?locale=en

 

Debuting the Scavenge in Townsville

Debuting the Scavenge in Townsville

We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather during our first Townsville Seaside Scavenge as part of Ecofiesta! The sun was shining and everyone was feeling energetic and motivated to help clean up Townsville! No coffee needed…okay, maybe just a little ;)

Our first participants trickled in bright and early, and cleaned up around the park. We were surprised how many little pieces of rubbish could be found around these beautiful areas such as Queens Gardens! Everything from straws to waxed take-away cups, and plastic food wrappers were found. One young man, Daniel, cleaned up 51 cigarette buts just outside the park! Because of his good work, he has won himself a snorkel trip with Adrenalin Dive!

Some participants were keen enough to go far and wide! We had two people travel up Castel Hill, where they collected 184 items! Later in the day, another group came back from the north side of Pallaranda Beach… Epic effort guys! These two groups were rewarded for the furthest scavenged, and most litter! We hope they enjoy their dive trip with Pleasure dive and the unlimited yoga pass with Lighten up!

Straws are one of the most common items found in the ocean and on beaches! To help keep them from getting to our precious marine environment, another young man, Rayden, collected 13 straws from the surrounding parklands. Great job! For this, he won enough tickets for himself and his mates to check out the Cowboys match at the end of the month.

In total, 48 coffee and ice cream cups were cleared from Townsville parks, beaches, and Castle Hill! One woman, Shelly, contributed to most to this count! Thanks to her, Townsville is just a little more squeaky clean! Shelly has been rewarded $100 from Bulk Foods Sources!

 We also had many kids take plastic free pledges on the day! Many people were excited to limit their single use plastics which is awesome to see. Especially with Plastic-Free July around the corner, we hope everyone is gearing up with jars and tactics to cut back next month.

A big thanks goes to all our sponsors and volunteers! It was truly and epic effort! Also, a big thanks to Townsville City Council, the team at Reef Check Australia and Tangaroa Blue for being part of the action! Can’t wait to see you next year!

RCAvolunteers - 12.jpg

This event was hosted by Reef Check Australia and Seaside Scavenge and supported by NQ Dry Tropics through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme. Additional support through Townsville City Council.

Scavenging the remote bays on Magnetic Island!

Scavenging the remote bays on Magnetic Island!

Despite the gray skies and pitter-patter of rain we jumped on the Fantasea barge with the ute fully loaded and volunteers checked in with Sealink. As we crossed the stretch of water between Townsville and Magnetic Island the clouds began to part. There was no way Reef Check Australia’s first Island Scavenge was going to be anything less than a sun-filled day of good times!

Facing north, surrounded by a spectacular landscape we set up at Horseshoe Bay, not knowing how much litter was scattered around the place. Apart from the butts it seemed to be pretty pristine, and free from any litter on the large scale.

We were quickly shown the reality of this remote island with our first participant, Federico. He collected everything from metal spoons, cans and glass bottles, totaling with 89 pieces of litter. He also managed to scavenge the most coffee and ice-cream cups!

To the unsuspecting eye these items seem to be recyclable with their paper surrounds, but don’t be fooled! The paper is lined with a plastic film that coats the inside, and takes the form of a jellyfish in the water. So thanks to Lighten Up Yoga Studio here in Townsville, we have a 1-month unlimited pass to hand over to Federico for keeping them out of the bay.

From blow-up pillows to bags of carbon fiber, there were all kinds of weird and wacky items scavenged. One we couldn’t get our head around was a packaged Gillette Razor and a full can of foam. Fortunately, Guy McCutchan found these sitting neatly together in the estuary behind Horseshoe Bay before they could flow into the Bay. For this odd discovery he has landed himself a 6-month pass to Reef HQ Aquarium! 

There were a whole heap of trails scavenged, rocks scoured and remote locations reached with bags and gloves by our keenest scavengers. Savannah Martin made it over to Rocky Bay on her motorbike and collected 226 pieces of litter. For this she has scored both the Trail Blazer and Best Snap prizes for capturing her epic effort. We hope she has some mates to join her on a paddleboard experience with In The Loop and for an eco adventure of the Island with Tropicana Tours!

Cigarette butts are the number one item collected during cleanups and this Saturday on Magnetic Island it was no different. 1 butt contaminates the surrounding 50L of water with toxins, so we’re stoked that 1,296 butts collected during the Scavenge aren’t able to escape into the ocean. A massive effort by Freek who collected 529 of these from the beach, and who can now take a mate to enjoy the Cowboys match on the 3rd of June.

During the day we were treated to the tunes of some local musicians, Ben Vernon and Jeff Buckley. The Howling Swamp Dogs played a toe tapping blend of guitar and harmonica which made the afternoon all the more enjoyable. Mark Hillman then graced the stage with an inspiring acoustic set and vocals to match. Big thanks to these three for creating the funky vibes!

The music must have charmed a couple of our participants who went above and beyond. We had Jasmine collect 512 pieces of litter including a whole heap of glass from the Bay. For her awesome effort she has scored a 1-day snorkel trip with Adrenaline Dive. Another legend, Ashley came in second with 226 pieces of litter and for this has scored a sunset cruise for two on Big Mama Sail Yacht!

Fishing wire, fishing lures, fishing rods were amongst the pile of litter scavenged on Saturday. Thanks to Caroline there is now over 100m of wire that is no longer sitting in the rocks at Horseshoe Bay and capable of wrapping itself around coral. The crew at Pleasure Dive will be glad to see it gone with fishing line being the most common item found on the reefs of Magnetic Island. They have a Scuba Experience voucher with Caroline’s name on it… Well done!

It’s important to see all this junk being collected off our beaches but what’s even better is not using it in the first place. We can start to avoid single-use packaging by shopping at places like The Source Bulk Foods in North Ward. Here, you bring your jars and bags and fill them up with all kinds of grains, nuts, detergents and more. We have a $100 voucher to give away to the legend that collected the most straws… so thank you Sam Smith for the epic job on the straw front. We hope you fill many a jar with this wicked prize!

An incredible number of prizes were donated by local businesses to get everyone Scavenging up a storm. Dance North Academy wanted to see kids doing their bit. We had one of our incredible volunteers Stella (who runs local pottery classes) facilitate the Trashy Arts Corner, where kids could get creative with the litter collected on our marine creature stencils. We were super impressed with Nik and Lukas creative flair of the crab, so we’d like to pass on a double pass to the ‘Rainbow Vomit’ production showing this Friday and Saturday!

Clearly, the Scavenge was an epic success. Overall 60 pairs of hands collected 115kg of litter, including 32kg of recycling and 1,296 butts. We had over a 100kg of pre-loved clothes, books, toys and more that were donated by the local community.

A massive thanks to everyone involved! Without the dedication on the day from our incredible crew of volunteers sorting and recording data for Tangaroa Blue’s Australian Marine Debris Database and local support from Magnetic Island Nature Care Association, this event would not have been possible. In particular NQ Dry Tropics and the National Landcare Programme for the financial support.

If you missed the action on Saturday, well you’re in luck! Reef Check Australia will be hosting a second Scavenge as part of Ecofiesta on Sunday the 4th June, so we’ll see you there! 

This event was hosted by Reef Check Australia and Seaside Scavenge and supported by NQ Dry Tropics through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme. Additional support through Townsville City Council.