World Cleanup Day, September 21, found Sara Kulins of Puhoi fossiking around the rocks and shoreline of Orewa Beach collecting rubbish.
The scientist and marine educator is part of the Brand Audit 2019 initiative – a citizen science project where plastic litter is analysed to see where it has come from.
The Brand Audit is part of the increasing push by groups such as Break Free From Plastic, for better waste management – including efforts to make corporations responsible for their contribution to plastic pollution.
In order to do this, it is important to identify not only the type of plastic, but the brands, that turn up as litter.
Around 10 volunteers, including several from the Orewa Paddleboard Club, helped with the cleanup, which took around an hour.
Sara says more than 300 items, plus many more that were too small to count, were collected. This included 47 cigarette butts. Soft plastic food wrappers ranging from large chip and biscuit packets to little lolly wrappers, were common. Twenty-five of these clearly showed the brand – Cadbury was the most common, Chupa Chups second, and ‘Nice & Natural’ third. In addition, there were 50 unidentifiable pieces of plastic bags, wrappings and packets. Stashed in the rocks were 20 bottle caps, four sauce pottles, three McDonald’s cups and two coffee cup lids as well as 14 glass beer bottles, four plastic scrumpy bottles and 11 cans.
The recyclable items were taken to the Whangaparaoa Recycling Centre.
Plastic free progress
In addition, two months ago, Sara increased her commitment to the Break Free From Plastic global movement by attempting to eliminate single use plastic from her life.
She says this has meant a lot more time in the kitchen, as she now makes everything – including bread, tortillas, crackers, muesli bars and mayonnaise – from scratch.
“The hardest thing is the time involved,” she says.
Bin Inn has been a good source of unpackaged ingredients, and she says buying a safety razor has eliminated a lot of single use waste.
A positive spin off has been a better diet, as Sara now eats little processed food, and she is also saving money – “Because I am buying less, using second hand stores and wasting nothing.”