In my time running Ocean Crusaders, we have achieved so many things that would hit the highlight reel, but the 2018 Green Island Clean Up just hit the top. Last year we were only really just getting going in Brisbane and had an amazing turn out with 73 people taking 668 kg of the island in a morning. 12 months on and we have now stepped to the next level.
After a two week postponement for weather, we were greeted with a perfect day. The sun was shining and the winds were light. Whilst I set up the registration in the park, Annika and a team of amazing volunteers headed out to the island to set up the marquees, sorting station etc. Registration went so smoothly and we were joined by Chris (representing Energex our major sponsors), our local MP Joan Pease and local Councillor Peter Cumming. 165 volunteers had signed in an everyone was excited and after a few quick words, we headed to the William Gunn Jetty to board the boats. Waiting for us with smiling faces were the crews of the Moreton Bay Environmental Education Center boat aptly named ‘Inspiration’ and Cat’o’Nine Tails. So smooth was the process to board people that before we knew it we were on our way across Moreton Bay to Green Island.
Arriving on the island and with two amazing volunteer skippers who provided their boats to get people ashore, thanks John (Dragon Boat Club) and Steve (Cat’o’nine Tails) along with the OC barge Salter, we got people ashore pretty quickly. That’s when everything went to a new level even for OC. Annika, Chris, Tony & Angela had everyone sorted and heading off in all directions dragging bag after bag back to Nick’s Point. One family managed to slide a hug broken piece of pontoon from the mangroves around to the main beach. I tried to lift one end and it didn’t budge so no idea of the weight behind it. But in the middle was polystyrene. If it had been left to disintegrate it would end up being millions of microplastics.
Meanwhile I took a crew around to a spot that we had played with a couple of weeks earlier. From the middle of the island we had done a bit of cleaning and the bags were waiting. Using the high tide we loaded the boat and it filled the boat pretty quickly. We left the team on the beach to clean the high tide line and headed back to Nick’s point with our load. As we pulled up, the sight of people lining up to help grab bags and rubbish off the boat brought a huge smile to my face. We were unloaded in no time.
Meanwhile Annika had the sorting tent in full swing and with ample volunteers, the bags were being sorted at a great rate. She told me that there was one older gentleman who seemed to take a lot of joy in pouring out the bags onto the table and yelling ‘What have we got in this bag!!!’ Young children were helping grab cans and bottles and counting them. It’s incredibly important that we know what it is we are picking up and try to find out where it is coming from so we can try and stop it. On major clean ups of this size we usually only get a percentage of the bags sorted and extrapolate data, however on this occasion, with so many volunteers and so much enthusiasm, we managed to put it all over the table. Everything was weighed by the clipboard wielding Christine and the system just seemed to work better than we’ve ever seen it happen before. The data which we will see later will now be uploaded into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative Database. That database gives us power to create change.
So whilst we’ve got this going on, Darcy Richardson, winner of the 2018 Under 12 Cicada Awards for his film on our 2017 Green Island Clean Up, rounded up a heap of the kids and created this monster Turtle out of the debris. The event had gone next level and so had Darcy. Last year he created our Keep Green Clean Sign and this years turtle was outstanding. I wonder what next year will bring?
Rounding everyone up for a group photo and it was stunning to see just how many people we had and how much we had achieved. The smiles and enthusiasm had not waned one bit. The kids sitting around the turtle was one of the greatest highlights I’ve ever had whilst running OC. I started this crusade to create change and seeing so many kids involved in cleaning our environment and wanting to protect our turtles, dugongs and other wildlife, it makes me so happy.
We then had the joy of giving away some prizes to the volunteers. Goodtime Surf, BioMe and Anaconda Tingalpa had all given us a heap of prizes to give away as a little reward for everyone’s efforts. Then it was time to board the boats back to the mainland. I very rarely get to drive the boats, however on this day got to drive a heap of people back to the boats on our barge Salter. Hearing the stories from everyone was so heartwarming. People had not only contributed to cleaning this great little island, they had learnt so much. One young girl ran up to the back of the boat where I was standing and was eager to tell me about her day. She had picked up lots of rubbish and even helped sort. She must’ve been 3 or 4 at most.
At the end of the day Green Island was a staggering 1.718 Tonne lighter and that’s not including the huge pontoon that we couldn’t lift to weigh. So we know it was over 2 tonne in total.
- 306 lids
- 184 plastic bags
- 893 plastic bottles
- 1358 pieces of hard plastic
- 738 pieces of polystyrene/foam
- 489 glass stubbies
- 996 aluminium cans
- 717 fishing items
- 143 thongs/shoes
- 11 tyres
- 1 fridge
- 1 pontoon
Without the amazing 165 volunteers this would never have been possible. Without all our supporters and sponsors we are nothing. And I also have to thank the OC team. You know who you are and you know we will always be forever thankful for your passion in making these events what they are.
I write this on the Monday evening after the event. Today we actually went back to the island and picked everything up on the high tide. A special thanks to Nev, Geoff and Sean for giving me a hand. Tonight all that debris is in the right place. Hopefully next year we go back and find a lot less debris. In the meantime, play your part every time you go shopping and say no to single use plastics and reduce all plastic consumption where possible.