Around 60 people collected 5,871 items of litter from 500 metres of St Kilda West Beach on Clean Up Australia Day. It was great to be part of such a successful united effort. Participating groups included Earthcare St Kilda, Transition Towns Port Phillip, Sacred Heart, Cool Melbourne, Kite Republic and Port Phillip EcoCentre. Several City of Port Phillip staff luminaries earned extra street cred for their contribution. The display of ‘butt castles’ created by Sacred Heart rooming house artists was a powerful feature of the event.
Assorted plastic fragments (from packaging and confectionery wrappers) topped the list at 32% of items collected, with cigarette butts a close second on 31%. Polystyrene pieces made up 11%. Unfortunately, the flow of plastics into the bay is unrelenting. A group of St Catherine’s School students collected 337 items of litter from a 150m stretch of St Kilda West Beach just 24 hours after the comprehensive Clean Australia Day action. Major education, infrastructure and enforcement programs are needed to stem the tide of this daily influx of plastics entering the marine environment.