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International Coastal Cleanup and World Cleanup Day – 17 September

Join A Rocha for the annual International Coastal Cleanup and World Cleanup Day this September. Founded by the Ocean Conservancy, International Coastal Cleanup Day inspires over 200,000 people every year to restore beaches and waterways. Plastic pollution is one of many threats to our marine ecosystems, with over 8 million tonnes of plastic waste polluting our oceans, rivers and lakes each year.

Dr Robert Sluka, Lead Scientist of A Rocha’s Marine Conservation Programme explains in the video why Christians should care about plastics:

‘God commanded us to take care of the world he’s made… If we are going to love God and obey him by taking care of what he’s made, we need to do something about the plastic problem. We also need to love our neighbour. In order to love your neighbour better we have to think about how we use plastic, where it’s going and what’s happening to it.’

On 17 September, whether you live by an ocean or not, you can join A Rocha’s Marine Conservation Programme in this cleanup effort to help reduce plastic waste and create waters of hope! All waterways are important, and you can do a cleanup wherever you are – at the ocean, river, lake, park or even your neighbourhood!

Here are three ways you can get involved:

1. Join a local cleanup on 17 September and record the litter you collect using the Clean Swell app. Check with local environmental organizations to find cleanup events in your area.

2. If there isn’t a cleanup event near you, organize your own on 17 September with A Rocha’s litter cleanup guide and record your collection in the Clean Swell app, listing A Rocha as your group.

3. If you can’t get to a cleanup on 17 September, take any day this month and clean up a beach, waterway or neighbourhood near you.

Be sure to share your efforts on social media to inspire others to care for our oceans and waterways by using the hashtags: #ARochaMarine #WatersofHope and #WorldCleanupDay

A Rocha also provides additional resources to engage your church and community around plastic waste reduction. See our Plastics Toolbox for free resources to help you contribute to global efforts to fight plastic pollution. Resources include videos, a cleanup guide, devotionals and Bible studies in multiple languages.


Water woes

Tourist brochures of the Algarve in Portugal are full of the dazzling blue of the sea and multitudes of swimming pools for those who prefer to stay free of sand and salt. But any impression of abundant water is false. Water is an acute issue here and the impacts are starkly apparent at Cruzinha, A Rocha Portugal’s field study centre on the Alvor Estuary.

The ponds and reed bed are dry, the citrus orchard planted decades ago may not survive the summer, and there is barely any rainwater in the cistern. Humans at Cruzinha may not miss the usually abundant mosquitoes, but the creatures that depend on mosquitoes for food suffer from the scarcity. Tinder-dry, the risk of wildfires is ever present.

A Rocha has been in this little corner of southwest Portugal since 1983. Our long-term presence means changes to climate, biodiversity, air, soil and water have been carefully observed and deeply felt. For the team at Cruzinha, the situation can be hard to bear, particularly as it continues to be exacerbated by seemingly mindless agricultural policies – for example, approval of a rash of new avocado plantations which will drain the already dangerously low water table.

However, the atmosphere around Cruzinha’s big old oak table at mealtimes is cheerful as people share stories of their doings: the Waxbill team are excited to report catching an impressive 15 the previous night, there were otter tracks in the transect surveyed that morning and many beautiful moths in the trap below the house. Volunteers tackled invasive species in the garden and a board game is planned for after dinner.

There is no doubt the water situation is dire, but A Rocha has always chosen to live hopefully, in worship and obedience to God, creator of all. In a parched and dusty landscape, roots must go deep. Have no doubt, the A Rocha Portugal team have deep roots of faith. When the rain finally comes, they will still be holding on.