Most of us understand discarded waste can be a big issue, but how many people are prepared to take this theoretical “understanding” and turn it into action? Here in Port Macquarie, we’re privileged to enjoy stunning beaches and coastline, but locals Liam McAlary and Addam Lockley are coastal warriors – they’re not frightened to get their hands dirty keeping our environment pristine for others, and they encourage you to do the same! Liam takes some time out from his volunteering to tell us more …
When and how did the Coastal Warriors Mid North Coast group form?
Addam Lockley and I completed Clean Up Australia Day earlier this year, and we focused on Town Beach. We noticed that we collected a lot of rubbish in the short time we were there. Addam suggested that we form a group that meets on a regular basis to clean up areas of concern.
Who are the “movers and shakers” behind the group’s formation?
Addam developed the idea and asked me if I wanted to get involved. We started brainstorming ideas and ways to address the rubbish issue that currently exists. We had a great time developing ideas and ways to raise awareness about environmental issues.
Addam and I are very passionate about Coastal Warriors, and it is great to see the community supporting it. Although Addam and I did, and continue, to do the “hard tasks”, the success of the project is based on people turning up and helping us out. Addam and I can’t do it by ourselves. I know it’s a cliché, but every little bit helps.
What are the aims (both short term and long term) behind the group’s formation?
In the first few weeks, the short term aim was to organise a monthly clean-up of areas within the Mid North Coast which are of particular concern.
Since starting this two months ago, I believe the long term aim has developed naturally. In the last month we have had local cafés and organisations supporting us financially, community members engaging with us on social media and interest from local media outlets.
Addam and I hope to create a community based movement that not only aims to help the environment, but to also educate people on the importance of recycling, the damaging impacts of pollution, ensure people feel connected to their community and have an enduring presence within the Mid North Coast area.
You recently held a clean-up (in early July) at Town Beach. What was the result … how much (and what types) of rubbish did you collect?
We collected a wide variety of rubbish, some of which was surprising. We collected 149 glass bottles, even though there are numerous recycling bins through Town Beach.
We expected to get a lot of cigarette butts, but we collected roughly 335, which is staggering for the small area we covered. We collected 95 pieces of plastic food packaging and 140 pieces of plastic film remnants.
After the clean-up, Addam took all the rubbish home to weigh it. Addam called me that afternoon and explained that it totalled 167 kg. I couldn’t believe that we collected that much in a short period of time. I thought it was disgusting, but I was also delighted that all that rubbish wasn’t going to end up in water streams, the ocean, or affect the local wildlife.
How many volunteers did you attract at your first organised event … and what would you like to say to them post-event?
We had 60 volunteers for our first event, and we were very impressed with the turnout. We would like to thank everyone for coming, and we encourage everyone to come to our monthly events. We understand the importance of social media, but we feel that word of mouth is just as effective.
We would ask everyone who came to share our Facebook page, our contact details, and details of our upcoming events.
We would also encourage everyone to have a discussion at work, at home, with friends about the impact of rubbish on our local area and what can be done.
Addam and I developed the group after one conversation, and it has taken off; we couldn’t be happier. We would welcome any ideas that people have about how to expand/develop the group.
What upcoming events are on the agenda?
We are holding an AGM on Wednesday 2nd August at the Town Library at 5:30pm. We are hoping to get more individuals involved in the running of the group. We need help with organising events, administration and to develop ideas for future events.
We then have our second clean up on Saturday 5th August at Flynn’s Beach.
A group such as yours needs ongoing support – whether it’s donation of goods (like rubbish bags), labour, or funds. Which local organisations/individuals would you like to acknowledge so far?
We have had a great response from some of the local businesses in the community. We have received some financial donations from Laing & Simmons, LVs on Clarence, Carlos & Co, Salty Crew Kiosk, and InnerVision. We are very grateful for the donations we have received so far. We plan to use the donations to set up the group, develop some merchandise and purchase supplies for ongoing events.
We would welcome any businesses or organisations to contact us to discuss donations or support. We would also invite any volunteers to come to one of our events, to sign up and spend a few hours once a month to clean up our local environment.
Where can we find out more info?
We have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CoastalWarriorsMidNorthCoast/
We also have an email address: firstname.lastname@example.org