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Aaniyah Omardien is concerned about the health of South Africa's oceans, and working with communities in the Western Cape to fight against plastic pollution.
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Single-Use Plastics Will Be a Thing Of the Past if This South African Conservationist Has Her Way

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.”

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. 

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.