Campaign helps cut Surfers litter

Fewer Surfers Challenge competitors tossed plastic sachets on the beach on Saturday than last year, but environmentalists said many runners still need to change their mindset about littering during races.

Organisers of the iconic coastal race linked up with the national RunClean campaign which advocates that runners hold on to water sachets until they can dispose of them in a bin.

Organiser Neville Wilkins said the #RunClean campaign had had “a major impact” on the cleanliness of the race.

“The clean-up was 100% better and I employed 20 extra people to clean up at water points. I walked on Nahoon Beach on Sunday and picked up only two sachets.

“Some competitors told me they told others not to throw. One person got aggressive when he was tapped on the shoulder and asked to pick up his sachet. It almost ended in a fist fight.”

Participant Div de Villiers, who also happens to be the director of environmental enforcement at the department of economic and environmental affairs, said he had noticed a “definite improvement” in the amount of plastic litter when he walked the race this weekend. “There were a lot of clean spots and I must congratulate the volunteers who were picking up along the route.

“Maybe in some places the bins were too close to the watering points but perhaps that can be rectified next time.

“The plastic was mainly on the roads of Gonubie and not really on the shoreline and Nahoon Beach itself was spotless.”

De Villiers said he saw many people holding onto their sachets, putting them in their pockets or backpacks before disposing of them in bins.

Runner Debbie Gee, who came in the top 10 women racers, also said she noticed less plastic, although she also spotted runners dropping sachets.

Eco-activist Karen Harvey said there had been “a hell of an improvement” from last year.

“I want to congratulate the Surfers organising committee for engaging with the #RunClean campaign. The clean-up was definitely better this year. But the mindset of many runners must still change.

“It’s unacceptable that people think they have a right to make a mess and others will clean up. They don’t think that the wind could come or that other runners tramp the plastic into the sand.” — barbarah@dispatch.co.za

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