Australia: Volunteer Beach Cleanup

Submitted by Harrison Crum on the 2020 spring semester study abroad program in Sydney, Australia…

Pollution is a global problem and Australia is no exception. While many of the beaches are clean here, when a storm rolls through, trash floods many of them. Thankfully, as awareness of this problem increases, many volunteer groups in the area have formed that seek to clean up the litter. One such place is the Dive Centre Manly. This past weekend, they held a volunteer beach cleanup with all of their gear up to half priced for the day. Volunteers had the option to pay for scuba or snorkeling gear, or walk along the shoreline and pick up debris. While most of the volunteers were veteran divers with their own gear, there were a handful of us that were not experienced and walked along the beach. The target of this cleanup was mainly plastic. While other materials, such as glass, can be used by aquatic life as homes without much, if any, negative effects, plastic causes numerous issues. Sea life can mistake plastic for food and ingest it, and this can cause the animal to die. So during this dive, glass was left behind for homes, but all plastic was collected because of its adverse effects. From this dive, I learned a great amount about how waste and debris ends up in the ocean.

In the past couple of decades, Australia has realized just how much of their waste ends up in their oceans and the impact it has on both their lives and the lives of the Australian wildlife. They’ve begun creating more policies against dumping in the oceans and placed much emphasis on recycling. Most Australians stray away from single use plastics, and plastics in general. There are many, many things I have come to love about Sydney, but the biggest takeaway so far is the environmental awareness and the willingness of Australians to take time out of their schedules to address a problem that is not going away. I believe this responsibility that the individual takes for ensuring there is a liveable environment for not only their generation, but generations to come, is something that I will incorporate into my attitudes even after my study abroad program.