On Sunday 29th March local volunteers joined forces with members of Tangaroa Blue Foundation, Friends of Westgate Park, Beach Patrol and Port Phillip EcoCentre to clean-up the banks of the Yarra River in Westgate Park. Sponsored by Phoenix Drinks through their ‘Love Your Beach Clean-Up Series’, and supported by the Rotary Club of Albert Park who treated volunteers to a free BBQ lunch, the day gave an opportunity for people to explore the beauty of Westgate Park as well as volunteer to help address the issue of marine debris.
This stretch of the Yarra River is just a couple of kilometres from where it flows into Port Phillip Bay, so it is important for clean-up events like this to not only remove as much litter from the environment as possible, but to also look at the main sources of where it’s all coming from.
Using the Australian Marine Debris Initiative data sheets, volunteers were able to weigh and count the different types of litter collected over the three hour clean-up period. In total 39 clean-up bags were filled, weighing a massive 321kg from just 500m of foreshore – and just a note that the Friends of Westgate Park had
cleaned this area on Clean Up Australia Day just 3 weeks ago! Top items found today included 309 plastic drink bottles, 124 plastic shopping bags, 631 plastic food packages, 327 plastic lids and bottletops, 75 bait bags, 1237m of fishing line, 791 plastic film remnants, 16 syringes, 5236 polystyrene pieces, 217 tissues & toilet paper, 202 aluminium cans and 355 cardboard food packages.
Both the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay are unique environments, as they aren’t impacted by marine debris flowing across the oceans from international sources. Instead, every piece of litter removed today came from a local source – from litter on roads washing down stormwater drains all over Melbourne, to fishers leaving their gear along the foreshore, to visitors flicking their cigarette butts into the river, and even plastic resin pellets flowing out from industrial areas. And while this isn’t a good look for Melbournites, it at least gives us a chance to address the problem as we are dealing with all local sources – all we need is a pretty easy behaviour change – your rubbish is your responsibility – dispose of it in a bin – not into the environment – problem solved!