Our Ocean – Our Life – 70/30!
Ocean and waterway waste ranks one of the most serious pollutions problems chocking our planet. This threatens human health, wildlife and economic growth around the world. Yet it is preventable with collaborative management, clean up campaigns, good policies, individual efforts to reduce using/buying single plastics and world wide understanding of its impact.
Here in Kenya efforts have been made to reduce this threat. Since 2013 over 12,000 volunteers have cleaned up to 5% (32 kms) of Kenya’s beaches and coastline each year as part of the International Coastal Clean up annual event normally carried out 2nd weekend of September.
This year, Saturday 17th September, over 2000 volunteers collected more than 25,000 kgs of mainly plastic waste, from Kiunga, North Kenya to Wasini, South Kenya.
Plastic bottle tops, plastic bottles and containers, and flipflops/rubber waste came up as three of the largest categories of waste. Other items included plastic toothbrushes, lighters, plastic food/sweet wrappers, plastic bags, polystyrene/foam pieces, plastic pens, syringes, diapers and straws.
This effort compliments the ban on plastic bags in Kenya.
Findings from Msambweni, Mkwiro, Shimoni and Wasini
Under the leadership and coordination of Base Titanium, teams of volunteers (558 adults and 45 primary school children) collected a total of 6009 Kgs of mainly plastic waste, along 5.8kms of beaches and coastlines of Msambweni, Mkwiro, Shimoni and Wasini in a two and a half man hours. This equates to 1040 kgs of plastic waste per kilometer. This is an alarming but real fact.
The waste has since been sorted and the findings have been shared with the national coordinators. What was collected
- 13,654 plastic bottle tops
- 23,553 plastic water bottles
- 8,763 flipflops
- 4,338 food and sweet wrappers
- 9029 plastic bags
- 4,522 plastic shampoo, oil containers
- 7,857 other plastics
- 122 cigarette lighters
- 237 diapers
- 60 straws
- 9 syringes
Interestingly plastic waste travels on our ocean currents. For this reason over 25% of plastic water bottles collected are from Zanzibar and Tanzania, and 10% of the waste collected from Mkwiro beach originates from the Comores.
A way forward
Where possible find ways to reduce your plastic footprint. Every little bit helps!
Things to consider include:
- Participate in the next annual clean up
- Find non-plastic solutions where possible
- Find innovative ways to reduce single use plastics
- Share with us ideas you may have to reduce plastic
- Do your small bit in reducing, reusing, rejecting single plastics and recycling.
The event would not happen without the help of a number of people and organisations. The list is endless including Air Kenya donating flights, the US Embassy and all the local and coastal marine conservation groups along the Coast of Kenya. And special thanks to the Kenya Wildlife Service, WWF and Base Titanium, LamuCot coordinating the event in their core areas.
Data is still to be fully analysed by the two national data collectors – Ezra Onyango and David Olendo. Once done the National Organisers, Watamu Marine Association and Ocean Sole Foundation, will compile a national report on the event.
Julie Church, Founder Ocean Sole the Flipflop Recycling Company and Trustee Ocean Sole Foundation