March 28th was our last day of work.
The cleaning up had to finish at 10am due to the tides. We had been working tirelessly for weeks and the past few days were especially physically demanding as we were moving tonnes of rubbish to pick-up points and then carrying them onto the boats.
That day wasn’t any different. We still had one beach full of slings and gunnies to be loaded onto the boats. We arrived early to Beach 30, one of the many remote beaches of Aldabra’s south coast, when we encountered our first problem. The engine on one of the boats had broken and it needed to be repaired before we started. After half an hour or so of waiting, and counting precious minutes, the engine was usable again.
With the boat engine repaired, all 12 volunteers, 10 SIF staff and the 15 crew from the Seychelles People’s Defence Force jumped into action; we pulled slings through the sand, picked them up over the water and pushed them onto the boats.
To keep up with the three boats going between the beach and the supply vessel, we formed chains of people. This allowed us to quickly and efficiently throw the gunny bags onboard and heave the larger slings over the waves. Once we finished loading one boat, we would take a few minutes of rest, drinking water and eating snacks. Then the boats came back, and we again strained our muscles to get rid of rubbish from Aldabra.
It would sometimes happen that a sling would pick up water and get so heavy that we wouldn’t be able to lift it up. Then we would push it back on the land, cut the bottom of the bag and allow the water to drain out. There was this particularly heavy sling that we tried twice to put onto a boat. It was pulled to the side, and there was a possibility that we would have to leave it there; we got rid of all the other bags, but that sling still lay on the side.
We tried once again to put it on the boat. Everybody was involved, either by carrying it or cheering others. When this last, heavy sling had finally gotten off the beach and onto a boat, everybody sighed with relief. We had done it! We had emptied all the beaches from the rubbish in time. It was 10am on the dot!
Looking back, it was a rather big surprise how much such a short expedition could change me and my life on so many levels. I am more self-confident and less stressed about things that will happen in the future. Now, I also have a different attitude towards plastic.
I believe that only through combined efforts of government and companies can we actually achieve something. But that’s not to say that each of us shouldn’t make our own contributions towards a cleaner world. By raising awareness and through our everyday actions, we can push others to play a more active role and limit the amount of rubbish going into our environment and ending up on places like Aldabra.
– Martyna Syposz