Every morning Hout Bay resident David Beckett heads to the beach and hardly ever puts a foot in the water.
That is because he is too distracted by the litter on the beach.
The beach-litter problem prompted Mr Beckett to start his own clean-up project in 2017 to keep plastics and other pollution out of the ocean. He says he was inspired by similar projects around the world.
“I just love everything about cleaning the beach and encouraging others to do the same,” he says, adding that he also enjoys recycling, art, sports and using a metal detector to find valuables on the beach.
After getting his project off the ground, he was joined twice a week by other beach-cleaning volunteers who work in the Milnerton Lagoon area.
Mr Beckett says his biggest challenges are the plastics and rubbish that enter the ocean from the Hout Bay Harbour and a tide of plastic that sits about 500km offshore but swamps the beaches when there is a storm. “The plastics then come in by the bucket loads,” he says.
The beach closures during the Covid-19 lockdown put a stop to his efforts, which he found frustrating, but now he is back.
Since starting his project, he has collected thousands of bottle tops and he supports projects that use them. He is also busy with an art project using other small plastics that could have harmed marine life had they not been picked up from the beach.
“There are tiny fragments of plastic which are dangerous to sea creatures,” he says.
Cleaning the beach has become his daily job, a job which he says has turned into his passion. Armed with his trusty collection bucket, his day usually kicks of at 6am.
“I feel I have a purpose when I wake up each morning. My days vary according to the weather, and I do not have a set routine besides the usual mealtimes and, of course, taking my vitamins,” he says.
“I would like to continue to be an example to the public and inform those around me about preserving our environment.”
His efforts have not gone unnoticed and he has scooped a community service award from the City of Cape Town, in November last year.
Ward councillor Roberto Quintas calls Mr Beckett an “absolute living, walking Hout Bay legend”, but says he wouldn’t have such a mammoth task if people were more careful about how they dispose of their waste.
“There is no reason or excuse, ever to leave waste on beaches and in public spaces,” he says.
“My heartfelt thanks go out to David, who contributes to inspire so many of us with his acts or service to our community and environment.”
Mr Beckett says he would welcome any support the public can offer.
“The loads of rubbish vary from a little on some days to bucket loads on others. I have received some monetary donations, which help towards the buying of beach cleaning necessities.
“I am inspired when people arrange to join me or just casually join on the beach. The support I receive keeps me motivated. I love my work.”
Call Mr Beckett at 082 584 4914 if you want to offer your help.