Sustainable Coastlines have launched their new campaign this week, highlighting the impact of city littering on marine ecosystems. The campaign posters, showing the journey of a piece of litter from the urban streets, via a fish's stomach and back onto our plates, will be displayed in hundreds of bus shelters around the country.
"Careless litterers are wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems" says Camden Howitt, Communications Manager of Sustainable Coastlines. "The message is clear: we do not live in isolation from our environment. What goes around comes around."
A study undertaken last year by the charity showed that an average of 59 pieces of rubbish can be found in inner-city Auckland drains. Bottle caps, food packaging scraps and tiny bits of plastic are washed down drains every time it rains, ending up in our ocean. The New Zealand Herald estimated that about 35,000 cigarette butts end up Auckland's Hauraki Gulf each day.
Waves and sun degrade plastic into smaller and smaller pieces, which absorb some of the toxic cocktails floating in our water.
These small bits of plastic can look a lot like fish food, and so the journey of plastic continues.
"Essentially we end up eating our own rubbish" says Howitt. "You wouldn't bury rubbish in your vegetable garden," he says, "yet every day we pump vast amounts of litter into the feeding grounds of our seafood."
The charity is urging kiwis to take personal responsibility for their litter. "The simple solution is up to all of us as individuals: reduce the amount of waste we create and what we must use, dispose of it properly," says Howitt.