Aaniyah Omardien is the superpower behind The Beach Co-Op - an NGO which organizes
beach clean-ups around the Cape peninsula. In 2015, a group of volunteers got together under
a new moon to collect marine debris at their local surf break! Four years later, Aaniyah and her
team have removed a huge amount of single-use plastic from our beaches, encouraged
manufacturers to design with recycling in mind and continue to strive to empower
coastal communities as guardians of our oceans. Doesn’t this just warm the cockles
of your heart? We hope you are as inspired by this awesome lady as we are!
What is your driving force? What makes you so fun and bubbly all the time? Spill your secrets!

I get my energy from nature. I love and simply have to be surfing, diving or walking in wild spaces
as often as possible. It is these open and free spaces that keep me going and that motivate me
to protect what I love. 

We really think that people are starting to care more about this place they call home and it is
about time. What changes have you noticed, big or small, in the past 5 years?

I am noticing that people are increasingly keen to take individual responsibility for the environment
and to act on that sense of responsibility. As consumers, we have finally found our voice and are
putting more pressure on retailers, brand owners and manufacturers to design and source
products that align with circular economy thinking.

What is your favourite beach and why?

This is a tough question because I am obsessed with beaches! But my favourite beach in Cape Town is Buffels Beach at Cape Point. I have surfed, dived with gulley sharks, harvested mussels and cooked them
on an open fire, snorkelled and explored the tidal and rock pools with my family, and cleaned the beach
at Buffels. I have two art pieces of this special place hanging in my home. One is a piece of my best
friend and I doing handstands in the tidal pool, which was painted from a photograph. Another is a
charcoal drawing by friend and fellow surfer Lisa Ringwood, a well-known South African ceramist.

What is the easiest way to support the elimination of single-use plastic?

The easiest way to support the elimination of single-use plastic is to refuse to use it. It is hard
sometimes, given the proliferation of this type of plastic. A good way to start is to take your
own shopping bags on your next visit to the supermarket, including net bags to
buy fresh fruit and vegetables.

How can someone get involved in beach clean ups?
Are there any beaches that need special love and attention?

There are some beaches that need extra attention, especially those that do not get cleaned
regularly by the city. The easiest way to get involved is to follow us on Facebook and Instagram
to find out where we are cleaning next or check out the calendar on our website. Everyone is
welcome to join.

 Is there anything interesting you can tell our readers that they probably don’t know about
single-use plastic and its ties to the ocean?

There is increasing focus on the damage that plastic waste does to ocean life, but plastic is not
the primary environmental threat. Climate change is a far more significant threat to our survival.
The two are linked though because the production of plastic produces greenhouse gas emissions,
plastic waste damages ecosystems, and our plastic production and consumption patterns
clearly illustrate the need for a shift in our thinking.

We dream of changing the world one tee at a time! 
If you had the opportunity, what would you put on a tee?  

Skrik wakker!
We need to wake up and act on the issues threatening our survival on planet Earth.