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Keeping Our Oceans Clean – Become a Volunteer at SST

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Do you care about keeping our oceans clean, and sustaining marine life? Become a volunteer at SST – the Sustainable Sea Trust – and get involved with projects like the African Marine Waste Network that is launching on 25 June 2016.

There are few things as heartbreaking as watching another living being suffer at the hands of our own ignorance. Pollution has caused more damage to the Earth than most of us can conceive, because we’ve been able to turn a blind eye to the extent to which we have polluted, and still pollute. The thing is, much of the Earth’s pollution resides underneath the ocean surface – an estimated 150 million tons of it.

According to the Sustainable Sea Trust’s recent press release, an estimated 270kgs of plastic enter the world’s ocean – not per day – but per second. This translates to 15 tons of plastic per minute, and 900 tons per hour. The guess is that if things continue this way, we’ll be looking at 2160 tons of plastic entering the ocean by the year 2045.

The SST refers to the shocking fact that,

“If present trends continue, there will be more than 700 million tons in the ocean by 2050, outstripping the total weight of fish in the sea.”

You may wonder where all this plastic comes from. A portion of it comes from ships, and other marine vessels, but the vast majority of it gets washed into the sea by

  • rivers
  • estuaries
  • beaches
  • rocky shores
Keeping Our Oceans Clean – Become a Volunteer at SST s

Photo Source: Pixabay

Are You Guilty Too?

We are all guilty – whether we intentionally pollute or not. It starts with the smallest of things, like not making an effort to recycle, or using non-biodegradable cleaning products that get washed down the drain and into the sea.

Maybe you’re thinking,

“I don’t think I pollute.”

And perhaps you don’t – at least not on purpose. But it’s very likely that at least once in your life, you might have forgotten to throw away a can, or plastic fork, or spat your chewing gum on the ground. These examples might not sound like a big deal, but they are.

Have you ever accidentally dropped something near the sea, but didn’t chase it and throw it away? What if that thing was a straw? What if I told you that even a single straw could result in terrible suffering?


You should feel uncomfortable. Our marine life is suffering greatly from our wasteful and polluting behaviour, and unless we take action to clean up our oceans and bring about abundant awareness, there will be more and more of these gut-wrenching images.

The good news is, there are organisations out there that dedicate their entire existence to marine conservation and ocean sustainability – and they await your help and dedication with open arms.

Volunteer at the Sustainable Sea Trust (SST)

 What is SST?

The Sustainable Sea Trust (SST) is a registered South African NGO dedicated to the sustainability of our ocean and marine life. The organisation strives to have seas that are sustainable, healthy, vibrant & productive.

In their mission statement, the SST team declares,

“We strive to help people achieve sustainable lifestyles through education, public participation, films, research and environmental rehabilitation.”

Become a Volunteer

SST has been offering volunteering opportunities for almost 10 years. Here’s what you need to know to get involved.

What volunteering opportunities and roles can someone find at SST?

  • filming & film production
  • graphics & photography
  • communications (writing, radio, speaking, Internet & various forms of marketing)
  • education & skills training of coastal communities (children & adult education)
  • research on marine coasts & estuaries
  • Coastal and estuarine conservation and rehabilitation
  • environmental mapping and GIS
  • fighting the growth of plastic, paper, metal & glass waste in SA

Who can become a volunteer or intern?

Up until now, it has been mainly Canadian and European university graduates that work as interns and volunteers, normally university graduates. However, SST wants to get more local students involved who can apply their skills and services.

Any South African can apply for a position (including retired folks), but SST prefers graduates first and foremost, as well as school leavers.

What’s very important is that the applicant is passionate about caring for people and improving the environment, in particular the coastal and estuarine ones.

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

It depends on the qualifications and interests of the volunteer. The opportunities are very flexible.

If they are interested and qualified to lead their own research, then that is what they would do; if they are interested in education through theatre, then that would be the focus; if they love teaching in classrooms or on the sea shore, then they’d do that… and so it goes on.

How long will someone volunteer or intern?

SST likes volunteers and interns to work long enough to be able to make a positive difference and leave with a tangible product that resulted from their own endeavours.

This means that 3 months is the minimum, 6 months is better and 1 year is ideal.

Occasionally, SST has short-term volunteers to help with tours and events. In those cases, the volunteer comes in for 2-5 weeks.

Where would they volunteer or intern?

The SST headquarters are in Kenton on Sea, the coastal town in the Eastern Cape, so most volunteers come to Kenton.

However, SST also has partners and activities around the coast, so depending on the applicant and projects, they could be in almost any coastal town – that is after spending some time with SST in Kenton on Sea to learn how best to represent the organisation.

Which expenses does SST covered?

SST covers all project and office operational costs. 

You can pop an email to Stephane Meintjies steph@sst.org.za for more information about becoming an intern or volunteer.

The African Marine Waste Network

Forming part of SST’s various initiatives, the African Marine Waste Network is SST’s latest project. The network aims to tackle the issue of marine waste on a Pan-African level, meaning across the entire African continent.

The SST team points out,

“No one knows how much debris enters the sea from South Africa or any other African country.”

International organisations now fear that

“Africa may soon become as badly polluted as South East Asia, which has the foulest record on the planet. The network needs to find out how serious the African problems are, where they are, and to then address them.”

This is where the African Marine Waste Network come in. It is the first step to understanding Africa’s contribution to the devastating ocean waste.

Its goal is to “develop an active network of people and organisations working together within countries and across borders in Africa. This is an African contribution to solving a global crisis.”

Calling on Volunteers for the Big Launch – SST invites you to come on board for the big launch of the African Marine Waste Network on 25th of July 2016.

You can get involved in the preparation of the launch, or help out on and after the day of the event.

For more info, contact SST Communications Manager Stephane Meintjies: steph@sst.org.za

If you’re looking to make a positive difference and improve the crisis situation of our current coastal life, then get involved with SST.

Not only do you get tons of practical experience, but you get to choose which area you want to focus on and work in. The opportunity will allow you to build on your skills and talents, and that is something you can use no matter which direction you choose to follow.

EduConnect 2cents

SST is partnered with the Ocean Recovery Alliance – and these guys just launched a very cool app called Global Alert. It lets you upload floating trash sites so that the company can trace and get to polluted locations that need to be cleaned up. Read more about how you can use the free Global Alert app to make a difference.

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