Single-Use Plastics Will Be a Thing Of the Past if This South African Conservationist Has Her Way
Aaniyah Omardien is working with communities to clean beaches and campaign for healthier oceans.
Created by Beautiful News
Talking about marine conservation isn’t enough. The shocking state of our beaches demands immediate action.
At coastal rock pools across the world, octopus, starfish, and anemone compete for space with drink bottles, sweet wrappers, and fishing gut.
These plastic items absorb harmful chemicals and pollutants. Over time, they break down and are ingested by sea creatures, bringing toxins into the food chain. A crisis of this magnitude warrants a collective movement, and Aaniyah Omardien is gathering the masses to clean up this mess.
In 2015, Omardien founded The Beach Co-op, a non-profit organisation committed to keeping South Africa’s seas healthy and plastic-free. The all-female team meets with volunteers every new moon to remove pollution from Surfer’s Corner on Muizenberg Beach.
“By getting citizens involved, we’re actually trying to change behaviour,” Omardien says. “Seeing the devastation gives them a deeper understanding.”
Every bit makes a difference!✨ We spent our Saturday morning cleaning Strandfontein Pavilion Beach with our friends from @wavescapesa, @9milesproject and @captain_fanplastic who did a special program with the kids☀️ 60 people braved the weather and collected 11 bags of litter, weighing a total of 47,05 kgs 🙌🏾 The top Dirty Dozen Items were: Lollipop Sticks: 100 Straws: 97 Individual Sweet Wrappers: 93 After collecting litter all participants had the opportunity to trade their trash for treasure at our #SeasideScavenge Preloved goods shop #DirtyDozenCleanup #NoExcuseForSingleUse #NotTrashButTreasure #BeachCleanup #CoastalCleanup #TeamOcean #SlowFashion #TheBeachCoop
As an environmental scientist, Omardien also hosts events to track the "Dirty Dozen", a selection of marine refuse that repeatedly washes up.
This includes items such as earbuds, lighters, and lollipop sticks. Collecting and recording the debris allows Omardien’s team to observe the levels of trash in the water. With data, they can substantiate the urgency for a response.
TRASH BASH ⚡️ What an incredible turn out this morning with 51 bags and 522,34 kg of waste collected! We will be tallying up the #dirtydozen shortly; our initial guess is that most people found fishing line and chip packets. We love working with the @2oceansaquarium and look out for the next Trash Bash on #worldoceansday and try be there and make a difference! #thebeachcoop #togetherwearestronger #trashbash #DirtyDozenCleanup
The Beach Co-op partners with the Two Oceans aquarium in Cape Town and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to advocate against single-use plastics from production to disposal. Their goal is to eliminate them entirely. In the interim, Omardien has facilitated more than 100 beach cleanups with over 10,000 volunteers.
Through consistent efforts, her team are keeping coastlines pollution-free.
“There is still time to make a difference,” Omardien says.