The organization and event I attended was run by BeachCare, who work to clean up the Gold Coast’s many beaches. The idea behind the program was to teach the locals about the ocean actively clean pollution from the beach. They clean rubbish, remove weeds, and help establish safe paths for boardwalks along the sand dunes.
The beaches are so important to the Gold Coast because of the cultural and economic value they carry. Citizens of the Gold Coast live such healthy lifestyles, where they typically go from work or school straight to the beach. People of all lifestyles flock to the beach, doing anything that varies from tanning to parasailing. Watersports, such as surfing, are a religion here in the Gold Coast. For these people to “pray”, they need to keep their beach clean so that they can enjoy it. They also need the beach because it brings in tourism. There are thousands of tourists flying into the Gold Coast everyday just to visit the beaches. If there is trash washing up on the shores, the locals will not be able to surf and tourists will find somewhere else to go on a vacation.
Due to my proximity to the beach, I walked down there one morning and watched a group gather to clean Broadbeach. They gathered on the beach among a group of people tanning, separating themselves and spreading out to different parts of the beaches. Men and women were wading through the water, picking out small pieces of bags. There were others climbing through the smaller dunes, picking up beer cans and cases and throwing them in trash bags. There was a small group of people working, but they cleaned the entire beach in a short span of time. It reminds me of the quote by Margaret Mead. She said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” It shows that as long as people are determined, numbers will not matter. Thought and effort can break down any barrier.
While it seemed like it was such a little event, it showed how much the people cared about their local community. We often think that as individuals, our work will do nothing. It reminded me of Slimbach’s writing; when he talked about foreign students volunteer. He writes, “At the same time, as foreign students and project volunteers there are ways that we can support a process of positive change, especially at the grassroots level.” (Slimbach LOC 699). As a group, people can accomplish large goals. It was surreal to see the work of 10 plus people keep a place beautiful.
One of the biggest things I have acknowledged from the Australians, is that they are very environmentally friendly, and are always working to help save energy and reduce pollution. They take their recycling very seriously and have reduced the amount of electric outlets to prevent energy usage. I have also spoken to Australians, who have suggested that people eat Kangaroo meat because it is more environmentally sustainable. They believe that importing beef uses more fuel than just eating kangaroo, who overpopulate and hurt local crops.
It is vastly different from what we see back in the United States. Back home, we barely take recycling seriously, often throwing trash anywhere we can. It is also crazy to see the beaches here, and compare them to what we have back home. In Boston, the beaches can have plastics washing up. Here, the beaches are spotless. We take pride in our “dirty water” back in Boston, when we would really have much more pride clean beaches like the Gold Coast.
The picture below was taken as I was walking over to the meeting point. It may be hard to see all of the people, but some of them are grouping up to move to various parts of the beach. This is in the Broadbeach neighborhood.
Slimbach, R. (2010). Becoming world wise: a guide to global learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC. LOC699