TelferYoung cleaning up Tauranga coastline

The TelferYoung staff taking part in a beach clean-up last year. Images: Supplied.

A major coastline clean-up between Kulim Park and Fergusson Park is taking place on Wednesday.

All Tauranga-based staff of TelferYoung will don gloves and gumboots to pick up as much rubbish as they can find along the 2km stretch of coastline between Matua and Otumoetai.

TelferYoung Director Paul Thomas says they began sponsoring the Sustainable Coastlines charity about 12 months ago.

“We wanted to make a difference in our community and New Zealanders love spending time by the water.

“This particular stretch of coastline means a lot to us – many of our staff live in the area or play sport down at Fergusson Park. We want to look after our own backyard as well as we can.”

TelferYoung’s more than 150 nationwide staff organised a beach clean-up around Mauao, Pilot Bay and the Mount Main Beach during their annual conference last year.

“Even though the area looked clean, once we looked closely, we were staggered by how much rubbish we found. Cigarette butts were one of the biggest problems. They’re everywhere.”

Sustainable Coastlines’ Strategic Partnership Director Stephanie Vercoe says data collected by the charity shows unidentified hard plastic fragments are the most common pieces of rubbish found on New Zealand beaches, followed by glass/ceramic pieces, plastic food wrappers, cigarette butts and plastic bottle caps.

“Plastic is getting into our oceans and never goes away. It simply breaks down into smaller pieces, is eaten by fish and other marine life, and becomes part of our food chain.”

She says beach clean-up days are a great opportunity for people to change their mindset and behaviour.

“Picking rubbish up really connects you with the issue. You suddenly think ‘I might not use that single-use plastic bottle or those straws again. I’m not going to buy lollypops anymore or have one of those little mints wrapped in plastic at the end of my restaurant meal’.

“It’s those small steps towards sustainability that really make a difference. We always challenge people to come away from a coastline clean-up and pledge to no longer use a couple of the items they found that day. When you see the big pile of rubbish you’ve collected, it really drives the message home.”

Stephanie says the more people talk about and notice rubbish pollution, the more urgency people feel to do something about it.

“It’s great when we have a corporate like TelferYoung who are starting those conversations and taking action on our behalf. They’ve given us a financial contribution which helps towards the running of our charity but they’ve really come on board with support as far as education, running events and community engagement which is hugely important to us.”

Wednesday afternoon’s clean-up will start at Kulim Park at 3pm, and members of the public are welcome to join the TelferYoung team.

Rubbish sacks will be provided, and people should bring their own gloves and suitable footwear. If raining, the clean-up will be postponed to Thursday July 4.

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