I remember being a little girl walking on the beach with my family. Walking into forever. Frolicking in pools of water. Running away from the huge scary-looking waves chasing me back onto the sand. Picking up sea stars and putting it back in the water (not always though - I never said I was a saint.) Being delighted at the sight of multi-coloured shells of all shapes and sizes. Delighted. Smelling of salt and sun when I got home. Hair tangled. Face slightly burned. Filling the kitch jars my mom insisted on having with shells and placing it on top of the toilet. On top of a coffee table. In the guest bedroom. Taking a big shell and placing it against my ear to listen to the sea. Falling asleep with the shell still stuck on the side of my head. Bliss.
Those were the days my friend!
I didn’t ever think that one day the shells and the sea stars would be gone. GONE.
Don't you think that is incredibly sad? I do.
Let me explain.
Last weekend I volunteered to be part of a clean-up crew on Milnerton Beach. I met about 10 other people who also didn't have anything better to do on their Sunday morning. And hey - who doesn't want brownie points with karma? So we broke up into groups of two, armed with clipboards, data sheets from Ocean Conservancy and plastic bags.
I couldn’t take one step without spotting something. A lone straw. Sweet wrappers. Chip packets. Cigarette butts.
Another step. Another straw. Another sweet wrapper. Another chip packet. Another cigarette butt.
One more step. FUUUCK.
I realised that it was going to take forever to get the beach back to its natural pristine state. The way it used to be. The way it’s meant to be. I didn’t have forever and I don’t owe karma all that much. But we were there and pretty determined to do a good job. And so on and on it went. “Look a tyre!” “Eeeew a dirty nappy!” “Holy fuck. A condom.” “Shit. Is this a syringe??”
The thing that really got me (other than the dirty nappy I had to pick up using a pencil, arm outstretched and trying not to vomit while little bits of brown dripped back onto the sand) were the little kids. They were playing in sand littered with cigarette butts, sweet wrappers, used condoms, broken glass…building sandcastles using discarded plastic bottles.
Teenagers lying on beach towels catching a tan in their latest Mr Price bikinis. Surrounded by trash. Lying on top of trash.
And the parents? They seemed blissfully unaware that their kids were playing on a garbage dump. Can’t they remember the big sea shells? Smelling of salt and sun? Falling asleep listening to the sea?
Couldn’t they see it? The garbage scattered all around them? Or was it by choice that they just didn’t want to... cause then they’d actually have to pick it up.
Humans are lazy, dirty, disgusting creatures of dirty, disgusting habits. There. I said it.
I wish there's a good conclusion to make from my day on Garbage Dump Beach. But there just isn’t and unfortunately 10 volunteers are not going to make a difference, cause apparently no one else gives a shit.
Shame on you.