Four young men are cleaning up coastlines and restoring some truth to New Zealand’s clean green image – one ad campaign at a time.
Registered New Zealand charity Sustainable Coastlines has been working to protect the country’s shores since 2008.
The team of four and a handful of volunteers have removed 839,420lt and 118,557kg of rubbish from New Zealand beaches.
The charity has just launched its third ad campaign, What Goes Around Comes Around, in an attempt to teach New Zealanders that poisoning the ocean poisons them too.
Chris Cochrane, avid diver and Sustainable Coastlines’ creative projects manager, says he has collected seafood from the ocean his entire life.
“I want my children’s children to be able to do the same.
“We eat from the ocean and the things we’re starting to see are pretty gnarly. They’re affecting our health,” he says.
Cochrane says litter is a worldwide problem.
“We live in a sphere where we think we’re clean and green. We think we can’t do anything wrong here in New Zealand,” he says.
Alan Moore, Auckland Council coastal consents and compliance team leader, says litter is a significant issue in the Waitemata Harbour and Auckland region.
“The best way to control litter entering the ocean or the sea is to control it at source.
“People should do the right thing and put it in the rubbish bin. If you don’t drop it in the first place no one has to pick it up,” says Moore.
The Watercare Harbour Clean-Up Trust has worked with Sustainable Coastlines on clean-up missions.
Trust manager Mark Bourne says the trust wants to encourage community involvement.
“If everyone picks up a single piece of litter off the street, that would see a significant reduction in water-borne litter,” he says.
Bourne says the trust works as the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.
“What we’d like to see is a fence put at the top of the cliff which is the litter not being discarded in the first place or people picking up a single piece of litter and popping it in the bin,” he says.
A large proportion of rubbish found on the beaches comes from the street.
Cochrane uses turtles as one example of wildlife suffering because of litter.
“We have around 500 turtles that come to reside in NZ waters and several have been found dead in the Hauraki Gulf with plastic in their stomachs.
“A turtle found in the Hauraki recently contained lots of bits of plastic bags in its stomach, one piece of plastic packaging had ‘Lower Hutt New Zealand’ clearly printed on it,” he says.
Cochrane says plastic does not biodegrade and affects humans, not just wildlife.
“Plastic gets smaller and smaller but doesn’t go away. The chemicals from plastic get into the food chain and go up and up.
“How do you even begin to stop this problem?” he says.
Sustainable Coastlines also educates school children about the dangerous combination of litter and the ocean.
“It’s more important to teach the good habits in the younger generation. It’s easier to teach and instill things when they’re young,” says Cochrane.
In preparation for their latest ad campaign Sustainable Coastlines surveyed students to understand what messages they respond to.
“Boys respond to the idea that litter is starting to poison the food chain while girls respond to animals being hurt,” says Cochrane.