For the past three months, an affable Hout Bay resident has been getting up each morning to ensure the beach is cleared of litter and debris.
While weekly and monthly beach clean-ups feature prominently in Hout Bay, no one is more determined to see the coastline returned to a pristine state than 35-year-old Dave Beckett.
Seven days a week, from 9am to 12.30pm, Mr Beckett can be seen patrolling the beach with bin in hand, eyes searching for even the smallest piece of garbage.
“On Saturday March 6, I did a clean-up with a group of people. I was struck by how much litter is on the beach, and the following Monday I decided to go solo,” he told the Sentinel this week.
“There is a huge amount of fishing line on the beach, and it is having a terrible effect on marine life. I’ve come across dead birds and seals, which are caught up in the fishing line, so hopefully I can do my part to remove it.
“Most of this debris is coming off the trawlers, so I want to appeal to the fishing industry to be a little more attentive to what is going into the water.”
For many, the idea of cleaning up other people’s mess day in and day out might seem tiresome, but Mr Beckett, who is currently unemployed, said he had a real love for what he did.
“After you’ve done a beach clean-up, you feel really good knowing you’ve done something to help the beach.”
And his efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Locals and visitors regularly come up to him to thank him or give him a pat on the back for the daily clean-ups, and an increasing number of people are pledging their time to assist when they can.
“In April, a German girl came up to me and asked me what I was doing. When I told her, she thanked me and I was very proud of that. And when I go to the Hout Bay Market on a Friday night, people see me and make a toast to me.
“My family has been really supportive, my mom Kim and dad Dave. I also want to thank my friends Debbie Spowart and Jacquie Jorgensen, who really believe in what I’m do-
“I think the biggest compliment I’ve been paid is from my sister Dani Martin, who told me I was an inspiration to her.”
During the interview with Mr Beckett, a man came up to him to ask whether he could deposit his rubbish in his bin. “That’s happening more now,” he quipped.
However, it is not only friends and family who have noticed the impact Mr Beckett is having on the beach. Recently he was contacted by the Hout Bay Montessori School who approached him to donate any recycling material he picked up.
“The children will be using these items in a school art project, which is very exciting,” he said.
Mr Beckett’s Facebook page, David’s Hout Bay Beach Clean Up HBAY, is also attracting many followers, with more than 200 people having liked the page to date.
Though Mr Beckett is undertaking the clean-ups voluntarily, he would like to make a career out of his “passion”, and has been in talks with local civic associations to this end. “Ultimately I would love to tackle all Cape Town’s beaches so we can protect our marine life,” he said.