It was just about 1km from the Ngongotahā Lakefront Reserve off Reeme St, but an entire black bag was filled with small pieces of rubbish.

Envirohub Bay of Plenty held the annual Spring Clean today and project manager Liesel Carnie said while a bag might not seem like much, the sheer number of bits of rubbish was alarming.

It seemed clean before the group of about 20 people of all ages from all walks of life started, but it was not long before buckets began to fill.

Cigarette butts and microplastics made up the largest amount of the trash which Carnie said was not uncommon but was the most essential to get out of the environment.

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"It's one of the key things we need to get out of our environment because they're some of the most harmful. Even though they're small, they look like food to fish and birds," she said.

She said beer and plastic bottles were also found, as well as broken up food wrappers.

Although a full bag after two hours was satisfying, Carnie said she always felt a sense of anger, frustration and disappointment.

"The point of these beach cleanups is also to raise awareness because it's bigger than we think ... we're not as clean and green as we look."

She said a clean-up was "the last step" in keeping the environment clean, and a greater focus needed to be put into reducing waste in the first place.

Fiona Wilson, 5, doing her bit at the Envirohubs annual spring clean at Ngongotahā's Reemes St Reserve. Photo / Stephen Parker
Fiona Wilson, 5, doing her bit at the Envirohubs annual spring clean at Ngongotahā's Reemes St Reserve. Photo / Stephen Parker

Carnie said this was the smallest amount of rubbish which had been picked up in the Ngongotahā reserve, which was something which should be celebrated.

Fiona Wilson, 5, joined her mother and twin sister in the clean-up as part of earning her Pippins Girl Guides community badge.

Her mother Carey Young said the family lived in Ngongotahā and the reserve "is like our little playground, it's important to keep it clean".

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Young said the family was surprised at how much rubbish there was considering it had been cleaned recently.

She said it taught her children the importance of not growing up to be litter bugs.

As well as small events throughout the year, Envirohub had already locked in the 15th annual Sustainable Backyards which would run for the month of March with more than 170 events.