Last week we joined in on a beach clean-up on Manly Beach near Sydney, Australia. It was co-sponsored by the Manly Beach division of The Surfrider Foundation and Barefoot Wines. We have been to many beach clean ups before but, not counting Bonnie’s spontaneous and constant solo clean-ups around the world, this was our first organized and publicized beach clean-up outside the US.
What impressed us was the number of young people who pitched in. As bag after bag of trash showed up to be sorted it became clear that the beach trash here in Australia was the same as we‘ve seen on the west coast and east coast of the US and Canada, it’s the same we’ve seen in Chile and Greece, Honduras and Costa Rica. The brand names change but the materials are much the same. In order of quantities, they are: cigarette butts, Styrofoam, single-use plastic containers, and broken glass. There are several other categories, but these continue to be the majority of the pollution. We’re sure the polluters thought they were throwing their trash “away,” but there is no “away.” It’s all still here on the planet.
The Manly Beach cleanup was high profile. The trash was dumped into a large tarp which was sifted through by volunteers who sorted the debris into 5 gallon buckets, each filled with a particular type of trash. Thousands of people walk by keen on enjoying this sunny first day of spring on this otherwise pristine beach not far from downtown Sydney. One by one, they stopped and marveled at the interpretive signs supplied by The Surfrider Foundation, volunteers of all ages collecting and sorting garbage, and the sheer mass of the debris. Was this all picked up from their beach? It was. The sobering reality was hitting home. Many of the passersby grabbed a bag and joined in the cleanup.
For us as Americans, it was heartening to know that people the world over are starting to take notice of this increasingly dangerous international problem – and doing something about it. The volunteers were enthusiastic, felt like they were making a difference, and had a great time! It was their beach and they took ownership. And isn’t that the real message here: “Take ownership.” You wouldn’t want to trash your own home, so why trash your own planet. What we throw away doesn’t go away it. It comes right back.
One cigarette butt pollutes tens of liters of water, kills birds, and take centuries to decompose. And they are making millions more every day. Never mind the health consequences of smoking – what about using our beaches for ash trays. As Bonnie and others feel compelled to say,” Keep your butts off the beach!”
Foam and single-use plastics decompose in the presence of sunlight and then are eaten by fish. Those fish are eaten by larger fish that wind up being eaten by us! The plastics we discard wind up in our own bodies! So there is no real “away.”
The kids who witnessed and participated in the Manly Beach cleanup are learning these important lessons at an early age. Their experience will change their own behavior and encourage them to create and support a credible, monetarily-driven recycling program. The planet deserves to be treated with respect rather than as a receptacle for our discards.
We salute the Manly Beach Chapter of the International Surfrider Foundation and all the other Chapters who are taking action and making a difference in this man made blight of our time. They are living up to their euphemistic motto: “To Protect and Surf!”
Who We Are
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.
Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.
To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.