In a novel approach to fitness, a group of like minded locals are hot-footing it for health and the environment.
As the day draws to a close, these beaches attract the usual suspects: surfers hoping to catch the last wave, romantics meandering along the foreshore, and a special group of runners and walkers who keep stopping – not to enjoy the view – but to pick up rubbish.
Meet the Responsible Runners, everyday folk who meet on the beach in running shorts and rubber gloves, who strive to keep pulses up and environmental waste down.
Founded in 2012 by Bondi Beach local, Justin Bonsey, Responsible Runners is an environmental initiative operating in 17 locations around Australia that encourages people to improve their country’s health as well as their own.
Each week, runners and walkers from the community meet at their local beach for a 30-minute, fast-paced clean up, to lift their heart rates, build new friendships and embrace the outdoors.
In just four years, Responsible Runners have collected over 21 tonnes of rubbish, including over 200,000 cigarette butts and tens of thousands of recyclable drink containers, plastic straws and other disposable items
DID YOU KNOW?
Australians buy 600 million litres of bottled water a year.
90% of rubbish on Sydney’s beaches is plastic: mostly bottles, caps and straws.
Each week Responsible Runners pick up an average of 50 plastic bottles on each of the beaches they tend to.
By collecting and recycling these items, they hope to raise awareness about the environmental dangers of single-use disposable waste like shopping bags and water bottles, which comprise a large part of the six billion tonnes of debris that enter our oceans each year.
After filling their bags with cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic lids and broken glass, the haul is sorted and recorded, then delivered as data to the Tangaroa Blue Foundation – an organisation formed to protect and preserve Australia’s marine and coastal environment.
By collating information from beach clean-ups, Tangaroa Blue is creating an overview of the quantity and types of rubbish on our coastline, with a goal to prevent the scourge of marine debris occurring in the first place.
Plastic is not biodegradable, meaning it does not disappear over time – it simply breaks into tinier and tinier pieces, known as microplastics.
Whether on the sand or online (each Responsible Runners group has their own Facebook page), the Responsible Runners also raise awareness about harm caused by products not usually associated with pollution – such as plastic microbeads in facial scrubs – and provide tips on how to reduce waste at home.
By uniting locals in their common love of the ocean and their community, people of all ages and fitness levels are getting outdoors, improving their health and doing their bit.
Responsible Runners provides a great opportunity for friends, families, neighbours and colleagues to catch up and enjoy some of Australia’s most beautiful natural assets: the sand and sea.
As Tangaroa, the great ocean god of Maori and Polynesian mythology, said “If you look after me, I will look after you.”
One rubbish bag at a time, that’s exactly what Responsible Runners are out to do.
Visit www.responsiblerunners.org to find or begin a Responsible Runners club near you.