Trash, tunes and treasure — that’s what you’ll find if you turn up to a Seaside Scavenge. That, and many Aussies who love our beaches and want to keep them clean.

With Clean Up Australia Day just around the corner, we had a chat to Anna Jane Linke, creator and organiser of Seaside Scavenge, an event that sees beach goers pick up rubbish in exchange for “currency” which they can use to purchase items from the second-hand market. She talks challenges, future plans, and the larger issue behind litter.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m an 8 hours sleep kinda gal and believe that there’s no better way to start the day than a stroll in the rising sun. A large amount of my daily liquid intake consists of French Earl Grey tea. I live in a house with 5 fantastic folks and we all get pretty excited when one of our plants bear a piece of fruit. I think city living can be pretty hectic but is fairly manageable with regular weekend escapes.

Seaside Scavenge

What is the Seaside Scavenge, and how did you come up with the idea? Was there a moment that sparked it or did it grow over time?

Seaside Scavenge is a beach clean-up and clothes swap event where the litter collected becomes the currency to purchase pre-loved clothes and goods that have been donated by the local community.

I was living over in Chile for a year when I first started to notice plastic pollution and started working in communities to draw attention to it. When I got back I wanted to organise a beach clean-up and clothes swap event. I started to chat about it with friends and over a couple of months, the idea developed that the litter collected could become the currency to buy the clothes.

I could never have even dreamt that the Seaside Scavenge would be where it is today. The plan was just a one-off event, first held in March 2015. But over the past few years there have been so many people willing to contribute their talents and ideas that it just keeps blossoming!

Anna Jane Linke

Did it take you long to set it up from idea to execution?

I started working on the idea around August of 2014 and made a date for The Seaside Scavenge on the first weekend of December 2014. Thinking about it now, I was amazingly unprepared but somehow it all came together. Unfortunately, the weather was out to test me and on the Sunday afternoon it was predicted to rain so at the last minute I called it off. It then turned into a beautiful summer afternoon. I was incredibly gutted. It wasn’t until the following March that I was able to get everything together again. So you could say it took some time!

How can someone get involved?

There are loads of ways to get on the Scavenge train depending on one’s time and talents. Obviously we need quality second-hand clothes, books, bric-a-brac, shoes etc. So an easy way to get involved is to do a spring-clean and donate any quality unwanted goods. Otherwise, come to a Seaside Scavenge and participate; clean the beach, enjoy the live music and checkout the vibe. Check our Website or Facebook for upcoming events and also to contact us to donate goods.

We’re always after volunteers to help run the event on the day and in the lead-up. That means setting up, assisting throughout the day and packing down. Also if you’re a musician or artist or plastic-free advocate we’re always after people to entertain, be creative with the litter collected and inspire participants to dodge plastics.

When and where is the next event held?

Coogee Beach, Dunningham Reserve on the 25th March 2-6pm.

Seaside Scavenge
Token currency

What expectations did you have when you started?

I just wanted to engage members of the public whom have never thought about marine plastic pollution or over consumption and introduce them to it in a chilled and fun environment. In all honesty there were minimal expectations, I thought it would just be a one-off.

What responses are you receiving from people?

At most Seaside Scavenges we are asked, ‘Is there even 10 pieces of litter on the beach?’ to which we hand the person a bag and gloves. The look on their face when they get back says it all.

Participants often ask when the next one is on so they can donate their goods beforehand. People are impressed with the quality of goods that we manage to collect. After all Seaside Scavenge is as much about cleaning the beach as sending a message about clothes consumption and fast fashion. 80 billion new garments are produced globally every year and fashion is the second-most polluting industry after oil.

Tell us something you’ve learned through the experience?

Organising community events wasn’t as straightforward as I’d anticipated. Public spaces, especially around beaches are patrolled by rangers asking for event permits. This process can get tricky without Public Liability Insurance and Charity Status. So there’s a far few hoops to jump through to get things happening in the community, even though it’s a community-benefitting event.

Seaside Scavenge Frame with volunteers

What can you buy at the markets?

It depends on what’s donated by the community but there are always quality men’s, women’s and kids pre-loved clothes and shoes. We often have a collection of books and knick-knacks, lots of toys, hats and scarves. These are all priced in pieces of litter.

The quality of the goods donated is often of a high-standard. There are a lot of stained shirts, odd socks and holey pants that have to be taken out beforehand. People need to realise that no-one wants their old, dirty stuff, they either need to upcycle it into rags or unfortunately throw it out.

How can someone donate their goods?

Get in touch with us via the Facebook page or website and we’ll organise a pick-up or drop-off.

How do musicians get involved?

If there’s any musos out there keen to play at a Scavenge please get in touch via our Facebook page or website . The music is core to our events. It creates the vibe, the laid-back energy that makes people open their minds and learn. So please shoot us a message if you’re interested.

Are you getting help from volunteers? How can someone volunteer?

Seaside Scavenge wouldn’t happen without volunteers. There’s a core team of about 15 amazing people on the day that run the whole event from set-up to pack-down. Again, if someone is interested in joining the behind the scenes get in touch over our socials or send us an email from our website.

How did the word spread about Seaside Scavenge?

It’s been primarily through word-of-mouth, connecting with organisations, clean-up groups and community groups in different areas. Last year I organised an East-Coast Tour up to Queensland where we held 7 events over 2 months in various coastal and inland towns and cities. This was a great way to spread the Scavenge love.

Our Victorian Chapter came across it on Instagram, so social media platforms seem to be helping as well.

Sorting Litter

Do you have any future plans? What would you love to see happen?

Oh yes! I am working to organise larger Seaside Scavenge Festivals that incorporate more aspects of marine debris awareness and fast-fashion industry aspects. In addition to trying to support local communities who would like to organise their own Scavenges. As well as having Seaside Scavenge Chapters pop up around the country.

You obviously care a lot about keeping our beautiful coastlines clean. How do you see the future of our beaches if people continue to litter them? How do you feel about educating through such a positive medium, about the importance of keeping our beaches clean?

The issue is bigger than litter. The fact is that almost every purchase we make comes with some type of packaging attached. This is what has to change. People need to start opting for items with no ‘waste’ attached, e.g. avoiding take-away (coffees especially), buying fruit and veg without the plastic bags, shopping at bulk-food stores and even better buying local because the closer it is hopefully the less packaging it has.

There’s no ‘away’ when it comes to rubbish. It might go to landfill but it is still rubbish unfortunately. People need to realise that plastic is a product made to last hundreds of years but mostly used for single-use. It won’t be until people start to realise that every piece of plastic ever created still exists in the same form, that we will begin to see some change on our beaches and environment in general.

A positive approach to all of it is key! There are too many ‘problems’ in the world at the moment that adding another one to the list isn’t the answer. Waste is an issue we can really tackle together!

How much litter do you expect to clean up over the course of one event?

It depends on the location, the weather and how many people attend. We collect amounts of litter from 35kg to 628kg in our four-hour clean-up session. At Seaside Scavenge we want every pieces of the litter, big or small. That’s why for every 10 pieces the participant collects they receive a token which takes the form of a painted bottle cap. This is the only ‘currency’ accepted in our seaside markets!seasidescavenge

What suggestions do you have for beachgoers who want to be more environmentally conscious, (such as avoiding plastic)?

If you want to cut back on plastic, choose a day to record every piece of plastic you consume. Go through the list in the evening and separate which pieces are for ‘convenience’ or are ‘unavoidable’ (be honest!). Then start by changing your routine to avoid the convenience items e.g. rather than take-away coffee everyday either bring a cup or sit-in and drink it. Keep in mind that almost none are entirely unavoidable except for maybe condoms. So start looking for alternatives.

Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

Rubbish is something we all create. So your choice and actions actually do matter. We can all be the change when it comes to waste!