Holiday Beach Litter an opportunity!

Glass litter on the beachSt Francis Today received a few of calls over the holidays complaining about the litter, glass bottles in particular, left on the beaches on New Year’s day. One of the callers suggested that access to the beaches should be restricted only to those living or holidaying in St Francis. Now we all know that is against our constitution and after all there is only one man who is allowed to ignore the constitution for his own benefit.

Our beaches are for all the people of South Africa to enjoy no matter where they live or how much money they have, and so it should be. That some care little for the environment and leave litter strewn on the beaches is a reality of life in South Africa and only education will change this. Right or wrongly we must accept realities and accept our differences.

More serious and certainly contributing to the litter though are those who find a need to bring copious amounts of liquor to the beach. Not only do they make life unpleasant for families enjoying the sun and the surf but also add to the stress of both the lifeguards and NSRI. One can only but wonder how many incidences NSRI attended to on New Year’s Day was alcohol related.

Certainly there are ways to reduce the alcohol being brought to the beach by holiday revellers and some cities and towns with similar problems address the situation by not allowing direct vehicle access to beach parking areas. As this really is not feasible at any of the St Francis beaches it must be left to law enforcement to be more proactive in identifying culprits and where necessary confiscating alcohol. Predictably it would create some cries of racism but as it is a law, it should be enforced across the board without fear or favour. But then again we South Africans really are rather bad at obeying laws and don’t always take kindly to having them enforced when they don’t suit us although cry foul when they are not applied on others. .

It is inevitable that after beach goers evacuate the beach after a day in the sun there is going to be litter left behind and there is no magic wand solution that will simply clean it all up. A possible answer and a great opportunity would be to employ small squads of youngsters looking to make a little pocket money, appropriately kitted out in bright “DO NOT LITTER” t-shirts with the sponsors logo. These youngsters could patrol the beaches during the day picking up litter as they go and then, a little before sunset, do a final sweep of the beaches before the tide comes in and washes all the debris into the sea to later deposit it elsewhere along the shoreline or worse still, add to the pollution of the ocean.

It is all too easy to lay blame on those who make a once a year pilgrimage to the beach on New Year’s day but they are not alone for littering is not the preserve of any one race. It is just as likely that you will see a spring water bottle or chip packet being thrown from a high end 4x4 as from a township ‘gedonk’ for some simply do not care if or where they litter. Litter in all its forms and no matter by whom is simply unacceptable whether it be New Year’s Day revellers, the chokka fishermen, a can tossed off a boat on the canals or river, or even dog walkers who don’t pick up after their dogs, all are equally guilty.

In the interim all we can do is do our bit by making sure we are not guilty of littering and by encouraging and educating others where and whenever possible, to follow suit.

Maybe, just maybe, someday we will live in a litter free environment but don’t hold your breath.