Hunter Hero: Merewether Beach Clean changing attitudes on the sand

Alessandra Adam and Kobe Benton, Merewether Beach Clean

KEEPING IT CLEAN: Merewether Beach Clean founders Alessandra Adam (left) and Kobe Benton, with daughter Florence.

KEEPING IT CLEAN: Merewether Beach Clean founders Alessandra Adam (left) and Kobe Benton, with daughter Florence.

A YEAR ago, Merewether’s Alessandra Adam began to take photographs of rubbish she collected from the suburb’s beach, posting the results on Instagram.

What Ms Adam didn’t realise was that fellow clubbie Kobe Benton was doing the same thing.

“We had a friend in common who noticed we were both posting pictures to Instagram,” she said.

“They suggested we do something together and it all began from there.”

Fast forward a year and the duo head up Merewether Beach Clean – a movement to keep the beach clean that organisers say has been successful in changing attitudes on the sand.

A wooden sign erected on the beach reminding beach-goers to “take 3 for the sea” keeps the message top of mind.

“Take 3 for the sea is something everyone can remember,” Ms Adam explained. “It’s quite simple: take your rubbish and three other pieces – it’s all part of changing attitudes. Everyone has a role to play in keeping the beach clean.”

Merewether Beach Clean is loosely based on the work of Take 3, the Sydney-based charity that aims to keep the waterways clean. It was founded by Newcastle environmentalist Tim Silverwood.

Take 3’s vision is to be “a leader in significantly reducing plastic pollution in Australia and around the globe. Our mission is to significantly reduce global plastic pollution through education and participation.”

Ms Adam said the Merewether project had drawn inspiration from the success of Take 3 on Bondi.

“And we’re definitely noticing a difference at Merewether,” she said.

“From a year ago, we’ve noticed waste in regards to takeaway cups, plastic straws and cutlery has dropped – we’ve slowly reached out to the owners of the cafes with a positive response, which is brilliant.”

Merewether Beach Clean hosts a regular beach clean-up, with recent events attracting broad community support.

Ms Adam said the clean-ups showed that microplastics – plastics defined as less than 5mm in size – made up the most litter on the beach.

“Microplastics can be extremely dangerous to sea life,” she said. “If there’s a storm or the tide changes, they can all end up in the ocean. It goes to the protection of the environment, as the ocean is one of the most important things. It’s a source of food, and the sealife needs to be in balance, otherwise we definitely suffer the consequences.”

Merewether Beach Clean’s next event is on October 21 at 3.30pm.