Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day 151 - Sept. 10, 2010

lifeguard tower 26 - Ocean Park, Santa Monica CA
trash collected for 20 minutes
2.1 pounds
619.5 pounds total
Camden Howitt came to California recently from his home country of New Zealand. I got to meet him when he came out to the Community Count day with my friend Emily who had worked with Camden in the past at Sustainable Coastlines, an NGO in New Zealand dedicated to cleaning up the beautiful NZ coasts. Hey Camden, are you hiring? :D

Here's what he had to say to a few questions about ocean conservation and how he got involved.

What got you started doing beach cleanups?

As an organisation we started off in the Galapagos Islands: a unique marine ecosystem that despite its isolation and relatively small population, suffers from the human impacts just like many other locations around the world. After finding trash washed-up on these isolated shores from places thousands of kilometres away, the scale and extent of marine pollution became evident, and we decided to roll-up our sleeves and start doing something positive about it.

What are you up to now?

We are currently preparing for a series of large-scale coastal clean-up events around New Zealand, to be held in early December. In preparation for this we are traveling around the country, talking to schools and raising awareness about how to take care of our coastlines. We are also in the process of raising funds to help us run these events and to help support our ongoing work -- and have a charity ball coming up at the Hilton Auckland on Saturday 18 September.

Do you see a lot of plastics and single use convienence items littering the coasts in New Zealand?

Of course. Single-use 'disposable' plastics are the items we most commonly find on our coastlines -- even in New Zealand. Plastic bottles, cigarette lighters, food wrappers, toys and jandals are just some of the examples of what is floating around in our seas and ending up on our beaches. But, we're hoping, once this trash gets there, more and more tidy kiwis will start picking it up.
I am pretty sick of these adds by the American Chemistry Council. I should have taken a photo of the little girl in the bike helmet gulping water from a single use plastic water bottle that is on the front saying that plastics are too valuable to waste - so recycle! But all I have to do to get the shot is go straight down to my beach. The ACC has lined the coast in LA with this add campaign. I saw this crushed water bottle as soon as I walked into the Nautica Triathalon area in Malibu today. Disclaimer - I moved the crushed plastic bottle 14 inches so that it would be infront of the ACC symbol.

What are a few things you would like to tell people to help clean up our oceans?

Buy less single-use items, dispose of all litter thoughtfully, reuse items wherever possible, and recycle what's left. And, if you see litter in the street or on the beach, pick it up! That way you leave a place even better than when you arrived.

How has your point of view of the problem of trash in our oceans changed since you started?

The more we look into the problem of trash in our oceans, the more we realise how critical it is to create solutions. But also, more positively, we now see a lot more people getting involved in cleaning-up our coastlines. Once people realise that taking care of our beaches and coasts actually a lot of fun, they tend to start thinking about it differently. We protect what we love, and in New Zealand it's hard to find anyone who doesn't love our beaches!