Last year, my twins received their ‘Ocean Rescuer’ diploma after volunteers from Project Rescue Ocean came to their school. So when I found out on their Facebook page that a beach clean-up was being held locally, the three of us joined them. Along with hundreds of other enthusiastic people, we helped to clear up the Orpellières beach, between Sérignan and Valras-Plage.
Beach clean up
The environmental charity Project Rescue Ocean saw the light in 2014. It all started when Hérault-born fireman Benoit Schumann created a Facebook page to share pictures he had taken while diving in the Mediterranean Sea. Initially, he just wanted to highlight how plastic and other waste had turned the sea and the beach into a bin. Soon enough, hundreds of people started to follow him, and, with this new following, he felt it was time for some real action. Instead of debating what to do for hours and hours, Benoit organised his first beach clean up with the help of friends, colleagues and volunteers.
And now, four years later, the organisation has been a great success! Today more than a hundred volunteers make the various Project Rescue Ocean clean-ups possible, while the Facebook page now has several thousand followers. In 2019 alone, 20 clean-up mornings collected 20,000 kilos of waste! Project Rescue Ocean has four objectives, from informing the general public and educating children, to creating clean-up locations and raising awareness about waste. Every clean-up event is easily accessible and follows the same procedure. The morning starts with a welcome cup of coffee and croissant, followed by two hours of beach (or another location) clean-up, while enjoying some tunes. After all of the waste is collected, the morning ends with an apéro. Instead of being a moralist, Benoit wants to make people aware of the problem and to change their behaviour naturally, whilst also creating a fun, friendly atmosphere.
Project Rescue Ocean bag
And this approach works. After the twins and I gathered our Project Rescue Ocean bag, we started to roam the beach. We mostly found little bits of plastic and undefined pieces of manmade materials. Too small to put on the buggy that drove around to collect larger objects. However, we had to dig a hole of a meter deep to free a long piece of iron wire. The two hours went by so quickly. When we returned to dispose of all of our collected waste, we were impressed by all the rubbish that the group brought together! Walking back to the car, I had already noticed a change in my twins’ consciousness. To my surprise, they continued looking for waste along the road, which sadly was plentiful. We concluded that there is still a lot of work to do.