Bondi residents and environmental activists built a giant sandcastle wall on Sunday morning to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the ocean.
The event, “Wall Up Bondi”, was organised in cooperation with a number of local activism groups including the Surfrider Foundation Bondi, Eko Buddy, Take 3 and Transition Sydney. The wall stretched from the south end of the beach to the north end and took about three hours to build.
According to National Geographic, an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year. Plastic in the ocean poses a threat to native wildlife, including endangered sea turtles in Sydney’s Harbour.
Mark Phippen, founder of Eko Buddy, and one of the event’s organisers says he hopes the wall will draw attention to the issue of plastic pollution, especially from single use plastic bags.
“We’re here today as a community to say that we’re not going to stand for our politicians not to take some environment action,” he says.
Another of the activists at the event was Lance Leiber, president of Transition Sydney, a group of Sydney residents concerned about the impact of climate change and fossil fuels.
“We need to stop producing plastics as much as possible and learn to recycle it better. We’d also like to see a ban on single use disposable plastic bags”, he says, “it’s choking up the oceans and a lot of those plastic bags are going to be around a lot longer than any of us will. So it’s a matter of respect and courtesy.”
Statistics from Cleanup Australia estimate Australians use around 4 billion plastic bags annually, with 30 to 50 million of these ending up as litter on beaches and other public outdoor spaces.
Anne Macarthur, a member of Take 3, thinks the event today sends an important message to the public, “don’t use plastic bags, remember to bring your own bags when you go shopping.”
The group which advocates for all beach goers to pick up three pieces of plastic rubbish from the beach during their visit.
Environmental activists weren’t the only ones at the event. Members of the public also got down in the sand to help build the wall.
Bondi local, Jemima Manton, goes surfing or swimming at Bondi every morning. She wasn’t participating in the event but says she finds plastic rubbish “all the time”. She makes a habit of picking it up when she sees it in the water or on the sand.
“Often when I’m out in the surf I’m grabbing big plastic bags and stuffing them down my swimmers. So, it’s a problem.” Say Ms. Manton.
Single use plastic bags have already been banned in many nations around the world including in Asia, Europe, and Africa. They have also been banned in South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT, and Northern Territory.
A ban on plastic bags in Perth is also probable, according to recent reports.
Activists hope that today’s event and other events like it will draw the attention of NSW Environment minister, Gabrielle Upton.
“Banning the bags is going to happen regardless, and if it’s happening she might as well be part of it,” says Mr. Phippen.
“We’re asking Gabrielle Upton, the environment minister, to set a target date to ban the use of plastic bags, and for her to put that on her agenda for the next environment meeting happening in the latter end of June. So, this is a very critical event.”
“It’s time for Australia to be ahead of these kinds of things and not lag behind anymore.”
Ms. Macarthur agrees, “NSW is falling behind. We’re hoping that they will ban them very shortly.”
An edited version of this was also published on Central News.