As much as I am a red dirt, brown dust, thick mud, golden grasses, and craggy hills type of girl who's at home with the cold east wind that's coming straight in from the desert heart of this ancient land where I live, I am also a beach goer. A passionate beach goer.
Washing that red-brown dust off my feet with the salty surf of the Indian Ocean just does something for my soul.
Quite often I take my dogs to the beach - they know when we're going and sit by the car and wriggle with doggy ecstasy - and we enjoy that time of absolute quiet from phones, computers, groceries, people. It's just me and them and the gliding gulls and the pounding waves. It helps a lot that 98% of Australian coastlines are BEAUTIFUL!!!
Very occasionally I invite another person to come along. Not that long ago, I invited my sister.
It was great - I packed a thermos and tea, she brought some lunch (best left-over pizza EVER!!!) - and we spent a good three hours there just soaking it all in.
On the walk up the beach, though, we had noticed quite a lot of rubbish. Several floats, one very cute and lonely thong (flip-flop to some) that would have fit maybe a 3 year old, a bit of rope. A car aerial. (wtf?!) And plastic. A LOT of plastic. Lids, bottles, bags.
On the walk back, she proceeded to fill a plastic shopping bag with all the rubbish we found. Those 3km of beach are now (for a very short time) clean.
It didn't take us any more time to walk back by doing it, and I have been wondering ever since why I haven't been doing it every time I go.
Okay, the nay-sayers will tell you that there is so much rubbish and plastic at sea that it is useless and a waste of time to clean beaches, because more and more just washes up. And yes, it is true that more will wash up with every tide and yes the ocean is heartbreakingly full of it.
But it's not a waste of time. Imagine if every person who went to the beach took a small shopping bag of rubbish off the beach and put it in the bin?
I have in my kitchen a very curious and interesting thing - a tea towel. The tea towel itself is not interesting at all. Just a bog-standard blue and white checked tea towel. But wrapped up inside it is exactly one thousand pieces of plastic picked up off a beach on the south coast of Australia. 1000 pieces.
Imagine how many billions of pieces of plastic are on our beaches, and how much more is floating around out in the water.
The next time I go to the beach, I think I'm going to take a shopping bag so that if I see any plastic on the beach, I can pick it up and put it in the bin.
Imagine how much plastic would be taken off our beaches if everyone took just one extra piece of rubbish off the beach when they went home? Imagine if everyone did as my sister did the other day, and took a bag-full?
Food for thought, that's for sure.