The return of sunny weather has seen visitor numbers to Franklin beaches boom.
Popular east coach spots have been crammed with people as temperatures climb, families making the most of their chance to get out and about again now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased.
But that’s also led to the return of an annual summer problem, littering.
Franklin Local Board deputy chair Angela Fulljames says it’s easy to blame the council and say there are not enough bins, or that they aren’t been emptied often enough, but that ignores personal responsibility.
“It’s often said that the only thing you should ever leave at a beach is your footprints, though we all know that isn’t the reality of it. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all take a little more responsibility for keeping our beaches clean so that they remain the wonderful assets we all love.”
She and her fellow board members want people to adopt a “take it the beach, take it home with you” approach.
“Packing a picnic, hitting the sands for a game of beach cricket and joining the family for a swim and a bit of a relax, are about as Kiwi as it gets, but it’s not that hard to pack a rubbish bag and take your litter home with you again.”
Litter is also a problem on the west coach and along the more isolated Awhitu peninsula beaches, where board member Alan Cole says visitors need to live the “Be A Tidy Kiwi” message.
“As a board, Franklin has got behind a number of Be A Tidy Kiwi events, especially in schools, and the kids just get it. They understand that you can’t just throw things anywhere, and that the environment is precious.
“Sadly, it tends to be adults that let the side down. We can be guilty of having a just leave it there, someone else can pick it up, but we should be the ones doing better and setting an example.”
Fellow board member Matthew Murphy says rubbish is a major problem for Franklin, which because of its size has more coastline to deal with than other areas of the city.
“We are lucky to have the calm east coast beaches and the wilder west coast to enjoy. We have so many beaches to choose from that we are spoiled for choice, so keeping them pristine is something we all need to take responsibility for.”
He says Tokyo, with a population of more than 37 million people, maintains beautiful inner-city parks that have no rubbish bins at all, users accepting that what they take in has to be taken out.
“it’s not all bad news because we also have people who do beach clean-ups, and people who carry bags with them to collect litter when they exercise on the beach every day, but it wouldn’t be hard for any of us to do better.”
Auckland Council increases the number of bins and rubbish collections over summer at popular hotspots.