Sydney, NSW: #SeaToSource National Day of Action

Sydneysiders were out in force to clean up their local beach, tackle ocean litter and make new connections

This post was written by Teresa Gustowski, CVA Revive Project Officer in the Sydney Region.


After a wonderful Welcome to Country delivered by Uncle Allan Murray – a decedent of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi nations – our NDOA event on Sunday 11th April in Sydney commenced! Although we battled winds of up to 40km/h (meaning making lots of sandbags), the sun was shining, the ocean air was fresh and nothing could put a dampener on a day.

92 volunteers, members of community groups and passionate environmental heroes came together to clean up Plane Spotting Beach – a hotspot notorious for litter. After only 4 hours, the volunteers had removed 235 kg of litter.

Our clean up not only made the beach a nicer place for people and the community, but also undoubtedly helped our incredible marine life and shorebirds – who roost not too far away at Towra Point Nature Reserve, an internationally significant wetland.  

The day had something for everyone, with a range of activities and workshops available. For those wanting to know more about our waterways and the impact of litter, the team from Georges Riverkeeper were on board to chat to volunteers. Defy Design provided live demonstrations of how single use plastics (such as shampoo bottles from local salons) could be upcycled into new, reusable objects like bowls or coasters. Reverse Garbage challenged us to focus on the impact of waste on marine life, by featuring 2 Little Terns (endangered in NSW, and can be found at Towra Point), constructed from upcycled waste materials. Participants were encouraged to decorate a giant model of a Little Tern egg with felt patches, to provide an immersive component to the artwork. Local sustainability champions, the Inner West Boomerang Bags chapter and Julz from Pluck Fastic shared their knowledge about sustainable alternatives to single use plastics, and encouraged volunteers to pledge to start – or continue! – their waste free journeys. To complete the Litterpalooza feel, Peter from Sunny Bins provided a solar powered sound system created from a repurposed wheelie bin, providing groovy tunes throughout the day. A big shout out to Sydney Airport and Bayside Council for supporting the event too!

For one of our Team Leaders, a highlight of the day was seeing a father with his two twins, no older than 6 years old, picking up litter together.

When the Team Leader asked one of the twins how they were feeling, he responded: “I like helping Daddy to take away the poison from our beaches!”

The story certainly warmed the hearts of all CVA staff and reminded us of the importance of getting volunteers of all ages involved in conservation.  

Sarah-Jo from SO SHIRE was leading the charge with collecting and recording litter data, helping us to determine the source of the litter. The strangest item found according to Sarah-Jo? A melted down clump of plastic lids and nozzles, identifiable by only an array of metal springs and nozzle tips. Some volunteers were also introduced to the concept of a ‘fatberg’. As unappealing as it sounds, a fatberg is a collection of fat, oil and grease that when poured down the drain, can congeal and clump together with various other items that should not be flushed down drains but often are, such as wet wipes and cotton tips. 

A HUGE thank you to everyone who came along on the day and helped us collect our 28 bags of litter, which weighed in at more than 230 kgs!

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This project received grant funding from the Australian Government.