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TOXIC Legacy

Published:
17/09/2016
Author:
Think Local

The Northern Beaches are thought to be some of the cleanest in NSW but the deadly debris Boating around in the ocean and being washed up - or left - on the shores is killing our wildlife.

   One local woman waging a crusade against it is Malin Brick co-founder of the Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew, who dedicates her time outside of her work as an environmental teacher eliminating waste along northern beaches. Shockingly, she often finds up to 25 kilos of rubbish on just one beach in an hour.

The cleanup started last year when Swedish born Ms Frick, who now lives in Manly, and friend Florian Obst would go to beaches including Collins, Manly Cove, Freshwater, Dee Why, Cud Cud and Narrabeen Lagoons and pick up waste.

   "People would watch and then approach and ask what we were doing 'she explains, “and they’d Join in." They launched the Northern Beaches Clean Up Crew Facebook group in August and it’s now a community affair, happening on the last Sunday of every month at lOam, usually with more than 20 volunteers attending.

HOW TO HELP

• Have a beach clean up

• Halve the amount of household waste

• Recycle everything possible

• Refine plastic, including bags, straws, bring your own coffee cup to the cafe

• Educate and inspire others to follow your lead

"Beaches like Freshwater appear clean," says Ms Frick, "but once you open your eyes and really look, you find one cigarette or one straw leading to a Coke bottle. It's like going on a disgusting treasure hunt trail.

   "In our last cleanup at Manly Cove, we found 20 kilos of rubbish in just one hour, including thousands of plastic straws and 2,500 cigarette butts."

    Recent clean-ups have unveiled mattresses, mirrors, porcelain bowls, glass, plastic bags, a piano, coffee cups and lots of plastic which, when it begins to degrade, releases harmful toxins that can pollute aquatic ecosystems and ultimately destroys the environment, as well as poisoning or choking birds and marine life.

    "Our mission is to not just pick up rubbish to make this area temporarily beautiful, but for it to be a lifestyle choice," she explains. "Before each cleanup I do a talk about plastic in the oceans and shorelines and how it affects animals to try to get people to change habits. Most people don't mean to destroy nature."

A recent study by The Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences showed alarming levels of microscopic pieces of plastic on Sydney's northern beaches, causing widespread impact on the marine ecosystem.

    In the last two years a dolphin on the Northern Beaches was found dead after swallowing plastic, and a whale calf in Avalon perished after becoming entangled in a stray fishing net.

   "People's ignorance is killing a lot of wildlife," she adds. "The ocean is not where this rubbish should be."

   Manly is home to an endangered population of Little Penguins, which is the only mainland breeding colony of penguins left anywhere in NSW. There are only about 60 breeding pairs and the waste - which can tangle, suffocate, pollute and injure them - puts them at further risk.

“We crawled underneath the wharf during one cleanup,” reveals Ms Frick, "and found their area filled with sharp, serrated aluminum cans, and they were building their nests with plastic straws instead of Sticks,”

   In 2013, Ms Frick founded WildAware, an organisation dedicated to environmental protection and of wildlife conservation. She was awarded 2015 Best Environmental Educator in NSW by the Australian Association for Environmental Education and classes herself as a “green consultant”.

    “I'm always called in to community organisations, local schools and businesses,' she adds. "giving advice to businesses and Individuals that want to improve and embrace greener companies and lifestyles."

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