Polystyrene, building material, flip-flops, single-use plastic bags, plastic bottles, soda cans, syringe, building materials, every kind of human waste you can imagine, litters the beauty of the Elegushi beach, says Doyinsola Ogunye.
Meet Doyinsola, an environmental activist, who along with 20 other children have set up a program to clean the sandy shore of Lagos from plastic and embedded litter.
Battling marine pollution
Doyinsola goes for a ‘Beach bath’ with her crew every week collecting about 50 large sacks of litter. Apart from collecting plastic and driving out deeply embedded litter, she, along with her crew of 20 volunteer children, rescues endangered sea turtles and plants trees along the beach.
“I always have to look at it from a positive light. Every morning when I wake up, I have my bath. Every morning when I wake up, I try to clean the beach. It’s basically a bath for the beach.” says Doyinsola.
Change starts with the young
This is exactly the belief Doyinsola holds. The nature lover that she is, Doyinsola spent most of her times outdoors. She founded the kid’s beach garden, where children come to play and learn about the environment. The kid’s beach garden grew out of a charity she had set up for the environment.
“This was an initial venture. The charity we got couldn’t have been put to a better use. The children learn about marine life and recycling in a fun way with games, chants, sports, and songs. Preparing our children for a clean planet is going to go a long way”, says Doyinsola.
Marine reptiles eat more plastic than food.
In her previous life, she was a lawyer but her love for nature led her to this noble initiative. Her previous charity projects helped her sign up volunteers for recycling and beach cleaning. While cleaning the beaches, a lot of sea turtles would wash up on the shore.
“It is disappointing to see the turtles caught in the garbage, struggling with plastics. Now cleaning up beaches and rescuing turtles go hand in hand. We keep them in a dark place and release them after they recover” says Doyinsola.
The Lago’s coastal area is home to a lot of endangered turtle species including the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, the Green Sea Turtle, and the Leatherback sea turtle. One of the major problems apart from littering on beaches is poaching. They especially target Turtles between October and April every year, when they come to the shore to bury their eggs. Doyinsola says it is essential to educate the coastal communities about the need to conserve creatures. They need to be warned about the potential threats of wiping out sea turtles.
The sea turtles consume jellyfish, sea grass and seaweed. “Jellyfish are toxic. If [we] have [too] much jellyfish in the ocean, we’re going to have a reduced amount of fish and that will cause food shortages,” explains Doyinsola.
When I wake up in the morning, when I’m having my bath, I’m wondering how we can take care of the environment. It’s so precious and so important to me.
“I want in my lifetime to see Nigerians and Africans taking care of the environment.”
Doyinsola is a real inspiration. If it is not for us, who will?
Save our planet. It needs us!