Coastal village gets drastic in its war on plastic

12 April 2018 - 13:22 By Jacqueline Flynn
Pet sheep Montana joins residents of Pringle Bay during a coastal clean-up.
Pet sheep Montana joins residents of Pringle Bay during a coastal clean-up.
Image: Alison Scott

After collecting up to 80 black bags of trash every time it has a coastal clean-up‚ a Western Cape tourist village has declared war on plastic.

Pringle Bay‚ with a permanent population of 1‚600‚ will crown 12 months of activism at its annual festival this month‚ which will be free of single-use plastic.

“Plastics everywhere will eventually make their way into the sea‚” said festival marketing head Harriet Joao.

As well as its regular coastal clean-ups‚ the village has tackled plastic pollution at source by lobbying businesses to eliminate the use of straws‚ plastic bags and takeaway containers.

Joao said many shops had stopped using plastic bags and two restaurants had scrapped straws‚ plastic bags and plastic takeaway containers and cups.

Villagers’ concern was not just about plastics being dumped on beaches‚ said Joao. “The litter we pick up varies from area to area – the majority is plastic bags‚ bottles‚ lollipop sticks‚ straws‚ hard plastics‚ polystyrene and fishing tackle as well as boxes of condoms which the poachers apparently use to keep their phones dry while diving.”

Some of the trash had broken down into micro-plastics‚ which were most dangerous to marine life as they were often mistaken for fish or crab eggs.

Antonio de Silva-Swart who runs Coastal Clean Up Conservation Trust‚ will lead an educational coastal walk for festival-goers and present a slideshow to children highlighting how debris gets into the sea.

He has led some of the town’s efforts to make children more aware of the impact of plastic debris on the ocean. His campaign to raise awareness has included a schools campaign with the slogan “Oy! Pick it up!”

His message to everyone is recycle‚ avoid single-use items and take a reusable bag when you go shopping.

The festival‚ which normally draws around 7‚000 people‚ is from April 27 to 29‚ with the theme #ThinkingBlue.

  • Jacqueline Flynn is on a SIT Study Abroad programme with Round Earth Media