We all understand the scourge that is plastic in our waterways. No-one more so than Garth Wilson. Garth runs a small beach hire business at Paradise Point on the weekends and every day he’s there, he’s confronted with the sheer volume of plastic waste floating by. He realised that must be just the tip of the iceberg.
He thought “how bad it must be in the waterways if we see this much in a small beach area.”
So, he thought with his spare time during the week, he’d buy a little boat and chug around picking up floating plastic debris.
“I searched for a small stable work type boat that was relatively cheap to run. Ironically it is a plastic (polyethlene) catamaran, built in NZ,” Garth said.
And so, the Trash-Cat was born. But with a large vision, comes large bills: fuels, insurance, servicing and rego to name a few. And that’s where Southport Yacht Club comes in.
“We heard Queensland was about to start the Cash for Containers scheme and thought it might be a great way to raise a little extra money,” Garth said. “With that in mind I approached quite a few business hoping they might allow us to supply wheelie bins free of charge, collect containers and we will service the bins for free so long as we can keep the containers.”
“Thankfully the Southport Yacht Club saw that what we offered went hand in hand with the cause we were raising funds for and a mutual desire to helping the environment and the marine life.”
“The money raised should be on going but well worth the effort to keep Trash-Cat out on the water more often,” Garth said.
And that’s just one of the ways the Yacht Club is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to sustainability. In 2014 the Club’s Marina was awarded with a fish friendly certificate and clean marina and more recently the kitchen has focused on a food recycling centre. The bar also removed easy access to straws with the intention to completely remove soon.
As well as designing the Trash-Cat, Garth is also its operator and chief picker upperer. He also supplies, exchanges and empties the recycling bins used at Southport Yacht Club and other venues that have come on board to help with fundraising. Garth’s partner helps behind the scenes.
Their method is simple and straight-forward. The operator (Garth) plods around our beautiful waterways, rivers and marinas picking up floating plastic debris with a hand-held net. It’s amazing what they find: thongs, clothing, lures and fishing gear amongst them – but there’s no doubt plastic is a major polluter.
“The most common items are plastic bags, polystyrene foam of all sorts, cans, plastic drink bottles, straws, chip bags,” Garth said.
But Garth still needs help. While he’s stoked with the support Southport Yacht Club and other partners have offered, he’s hoping other local taverns, bowls clubs and waterside outlets will also jump on board.
As well as reducing or removing the cost of crushing glass if used, Garth says businesses see other benefits as well.
“They help reduce the demand on landfills,” he said. “We offer a completely free service and by helping us they gain the kudos of helping a great cause.”
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If you’ve got a venue that can help Garth keep our waterways clean, please contact him at email@example.com.