123: 1 Tonne, 2 States, 3 Weeks

We definitely hit the deck running this year. The first three weekends have been spent Scavenging up a storm of good vibes, trash trading action and plastic pollution awareness in Victoria and NSW.

Kicking off the first Sunday of the year, the Mornington Peninsula Chapter organised the third annual Rye Scavenge Festival with the support of Seaside Scavenge and the Taronga Zoo Green Grant. Local leader, Sacha Guggenheimer, together with the endless support of passionate Scavengers organised an event of epic proportions.

We were welcomed to country of the Kulin Nation with a Smoking Ceremony by Lionel Lauch, a Gunditjmara Kirrae Wurrung-Bundjalung man. This was followed by an array of talented musicians organised by Ryan Luckhurst.

Sea Shepherd’s Marine Debris Team joined us in the sorting station to manage the 770kg of trash collected by 270 Scavengers over 3.5 hours. This broke our previously record of 750kg of waste collected at our Lakeside Scavenge in Jinbdayne.. The Peninsula is hard hit with tourists over the Christmas period, and despite the Council’s best efforts employing a Clean Team and emptying the 500 bins along this stretch of coastline twice a day, they simply cannot keep up with our disposable lifestyle -  and nor should they.

Our trash is our responsibility.

That’s why the Scavenge is a zero-waste event! Even with Jetty Road Brewery and Tag For Life Coffee Van at the Scavenge, we didn’t contribute even one plastic-cup or one coffee cup to landfill. This was possible because of our awesome Wash-Up Station stocked with mugs, bowls and cutlery from local Vinnies and Rotary clubs, and the proactive energy of our participants who borrowed the items at $1 a pop and kindly washed them up.

There were big flippers to fill after such a successful Scavenge in Rye. Despite, Mother Nature not quite dealing us her kindest cards, our first Melbourne Scavenge the following Saturday was a banger!

In three hours of sunny skies 140 participants collected 220kg of waste and a total of 12,676 butts from St Kilda beach and parklands! Butts accounted for half the number of pieces of litter we collected and this wasn’t even including tobacco related products like cellophane wrapping, lighters or boxes.

Beach Patrol gave us a helping hand by hosting their monthly St Kilda clean-up the morning of the Scavenge. The Eco Centre joined us for the day and Captain Trash made an appearance hosting his Seashell Shoreline Safari.

Thanks to the power provided from our wondrous bike powered generator local Councilor Tim Baxter opened the event with an acknowledgement of country. Then, we heard from local Sea Shepherd ambassador Erin Lindwall discussing the importance of policy change in addressing plastic pollution such as Cash for Container Schemes and banning the bag.

Fortunately the Scavenge van, Oscar, made it all the way back to Sydney to team up with Mosman Council for the first Balmoral Seaside Scavenge. On Sunday 21st January, we nestled behind the island in the middle of the beach and set-up for a sunny afternoon of beach cleaning and change-making action.

Boomerang Bags Lower North Shore joined us with an array of beautifully sewn bags made from reusable materials, and local Balmoral clean-up crew, Responsible Runners, came down to give us a hand in the sorting station.

A majority of the litter collected from the beach was smaller pieces of hard micro-plastics and plastic packing. There was over 10,500 pieces of litter collected including 400 straws by 100 people. Thirty of whom used their trash tokens to check out the 5m Great White displayed at Shark In A Bus hosted by the Two Hands Project.

The bike powered generator was definitely running low after two big events, so our volunteers had to ride extra hard to keep the tunes of Grace Brown, Ari Levy and Portia Hackett flowing.

After three big weeks and the collective effort of 510 Scavengers, 84% of whom had never previously attended a cleanup, 1,054 tonnes of waste, 25,562 cigarette butts, 7,862 pieces of plastic packaging, 1,534 straws and a whole lot more was removed from our coastline.

Twelve businesses across these three communities took the plastic-free pledge for the Scavenge by going topless on coffees (no lids), not serving straws and going bag-free. This avoided over 600 single-use plastic items being used and thrown away.

With China banning imports of recyclable waste from Australia from the 1st January, we need to wake-up and consider the impact that our convenience culture is having on our environment, our health and even now, the economy.  All it takes is a little extra thought about our impact, a conversation in a café and the understanding that our individual actions make a difference,

We all have the power to shape the world we live in for the better.



Anna Jane Linke