Bundaberg's St John's Lutheran Primary School students are all smiling after they participated in one of the beeswax wrap workshops.
Bundaberg's St John's Lutheran Primary School students are all smiling after they participated in one of the beeswax wrap workshops.

Grants enable reef-saving project

LOVERS of the reef will be granted the opportunity to participate in a Bundaberg project that aims to reduce the impact on and save the Great Barrier Reef and its marine life, including the region's treasured sea turtles.

After the success of their #LessIsMore for the Great Barrier Reef campaign last year, the Burnett Local Marine Advisory Committee (LMAC) has received funding to assist in running the project again.

Students from Bundaberg State High School hold up their beeswax wraps with pride.
Students from Bundaberg State High School hold up their beeswax wraps with pride.

Hosted by Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers managing director Bree Grima said it was great to be part of the campaign with LMAC again.

"With the ban on single-use plastics fast approaching in 2021, now is the perfect time for businesses to investigate and consider sustainable alternatives," said Ms Grima.

"Everyone has a role to play in protecting the reef, and the horticulture industry is working hard towards ensuring its activities are sustainable (and) this project is an opportunity for all businesses to contribute towards a healthier reef".

Almost 500 teachers and students in Bundaberg participated in beeswax wrap workshops last year, to eliminate the 38km of single-use plastic clingwrap that poses a threat to our oceans each year.

Eleven local sports clubs, restaurants and bars also got behind the campaign, by removing almost 18,000 plastic straws.

Identifying the hot spots for cigarette butts in and around Bundaberg, students from St Joseph's Catholic Primary School also joined the crusade, creating signage to discourage littering and increase awareness.

Bundaberg's St John's Lutheran Primary School students are all smiling after they participated in one of the beeswax wrap workshops.
Bundaberg's St John's Lutheran Primary School students are all smiling after they participated in one of the beeswax wrap workshops.

"When we grab a plastic straw, wrap sandwiches in clingwrap or even grab a plastic water bottle, we don't think about the long-term impacts that decision has, with those plastics persisting for hundreds of years in our environment," Burnett LMAC chair Sue Sargent said.

"It's time to break some of those habits and think about how we want the world to look in the future."

Reef conservation, marine debris, climate change and other environmental threats will be the focus of activities in the upcoming #LessIsMore campaign, with many activities for the community to participate in and ultimately make a difference for the reef.

Initiatives will include another beeswax wrap session, as well as monitoring cigarette hot spots and encouraging businesses to adopt a butt bin and locals to 'ditch the flick'.

In the lead up to the single-use plastic ban which will be implemented from July next year, project volunteers will also be distributing paper straws and collecting plastic straws, which will be repurposed to construct a park bench.

Designed to encourage the public to bring a reusable and environmentally-friendly water bottle, a portable refill station will also be purchased, with the ability to hire it out through the local council.

Great Barrier Reef Foundation managing director Anna Marsden said the grants bring the community together to establish strategies that will save the reef and its marine life.

"These grants deliver practical, on-ground actions, including everything from promoting sustainable fishing to improving creek habitats and reducing litter and marine debris entering the reef catchments," Ms Marsden said.

"These projects will add to the more than 60 reef-saving projects the Foundation is delivering right now with more than 65 partners."

The #LessIsMore project will be funded by a partnership formed between the Australian Government's Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.