I love Morocco. This isn’t a secret given how much I write about the country on this blog.
And because I love the country and want more of you to visit, it pained me to see just how much rubbish collected along it’s shores. When the beach wasn’t littered with rubbish from local villages, it was collecting the waste brought in from the high tides and whilst the wide stretch of sand can look clean you only have to walk back to the rocky headland to see piles of plastic waste.
I’m not writing this to put you off. I’m writing this, in the wake of Earth Day 2016, to remind you that…
And also because it’s one side of Morocco that really p*sses me off and I want to help motivate a change. If you want to read about all the sides of Morocco I love instead, click here!
Our First Morocco Beach Clean
It was Irena’s idea originally. As co-owner of The Lunar Surf House, along with her partner Adil, it drove her just as crazy as it did me that there seemed to be such a disregard for the fatal consequences beach littering can cause to the local wildlife and natural landscape.
Because we’re not talking littering here. We’re talking bags full of rubbish.
And so, fuelled by the annoyance that filled us after every daily swim in the North Atlantic Ocean, we set up a Facebook group called Morocco Beach Cleans and organised our very first beach clean!
On the 27th October 2015 more than 30 of us came together on Tamraght Plage armed with bags and gloves to sweep up as much of the litter as we could in the few hours we had given ourselves off from working and surfing. Four days before that it had been my 25th birthday and whilst the team at The Lunar Surf House had thrown me an amazing bash complete with kaftans, henna and cake – our first successful beach clean was the ultimate birthday present!
I still can’t believe the number of bags we filled with endless plastic bottles, rope and string, broken glass, tins, etc.
I also still can’t believe how many awesome people came along to join in once we started spreading the word! Shout out to Charlotte and Barack who have since run their own cleans in Tamraght (especially Barack who got caught by a scorpion at the end of our first beach clean!), and Tommi and Max who had only met us the day before and agreed to being dragged down!
How To Run Your Own Beach Clean
After leaving Morocco it’s been heart-warming to see so many locals and small business owners in the Tamraght/Taghazout area continue to organise beach cleans amongst themselves.
I wish I could still be there to help (plus I also miss Morocco so much!) but in case some of you out there are interested in organising your own wherever in the world you may be, I thought I’d list my top tips on how to organise your own beach clean!
1. Gather interest from locals and small business owners
I think one of the best ways we found to get the word out about our first clean was to set up the Morocco Beach Cleans Facebook group and invite as many of our local friends as we could to join. We also posted a message in the group inviting members to invite their friends and so the group began to grow!
Telling small business owners in the area also really worked for us because there are a lot of independent surf camps, hostels and shop between the two villages of Tamraght and Taghazout who were free to invite along their guests!
2. Contact local charities and governments
Obviously a big issue of running a beach clean is what to do with all the rubbish you collect if you don’t have the means to transport it straight to a dump or rubbish facility. For this we got in touch with Surfrider Maroc, who also provided bags and came along to hand out information about marine litter to those who attended.
3. Set a clear meeting point
Beaches can run for miles and often there are few markers in place to suggest an easy meeting place. If you don’t know the area well then make sure to scout out the beach with a local who will know spots that are well known (even if it’s just a very big rock!).
4. Gather supplies
Whilst none of us wants to add to plastic waste, volunteers are unlikely to have their own supply of gloves and so disposable polythene/vinyl gloves will be hugely appreciated. Trust me, some of the rubbish we picked up was disgusting!
To avoid using plastic bags, large hess sacks like those used for potatoes or seeds are great and can often be picked up at local markets if you have a translator and a big smile.
5. On the day
You’ll want to arrive about 15 minutes earlier than the agreed starting point so volunteers will know they’ve found the right spot!
I’d also suggest warning people of a few potential dangers such as dangerous animals/insects that might be in the area and the threat of broken glass. If possible, hand out an emergency mobile number that will be available to one member of the organising team incase anything should go wrong.
I’d also make sure to take lots of photos as you can then use these to advertise for future beach cleans or even get in touch with local papers with a press release about the event (if you didn’t already invite them).
Finally, have fun and enjoy the feel of a community coming together in the name of environmental change! One of the most enjoyable parts about our first beach clean was getting to know people we hadn’t met before and making new friends in the local area!
Comment below of any other events you’ve taken part in while travelling to benefit the local and/or global environment to inspire others who read this blog! 🙂