Aaniyah Omardien

Aaniyah Omardien is the founder and director of The Beach Co-op, a non-profit organisation in Cape Town. This organisation is made up of three directors (including Aaniyah), four board members and two employees. Furthermore, volunteers join in and support the beach cleanup.

The purpose of this initiative was to give back to the ocean. Aaniyah strives to connect people and nature. And, in addition to The Beach Co-op, she worked for the World-Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in South Africa from 2001 to 2010. She helped WWF start and manage their marine programme.

What are some of the challenges The Beach Co-op faces?

Aaniyah says, “our mission is to eliminate, reuse, redesign and recycle single-use plastic that often lands up in our oceans and on our beaches. We work with single-use plastics at all points of the value chain to remove them from the beach and refuse them when making purchases.” They work with brands and companies who are determined to use less plastic, as well as encourage manufacturers to design plastic packaging with a circular economy in mind. As you can imagine, this is a massive task which requires many different stakeholders’ involvement. This alone is an on-going challenge for The Beach Co-op.

How do you overcome these challenges?

In order to overcome these challenges, Aaniyah says, “we are bustling relationships with the stakeholders we feel share our mission, and we hope to work together to achieve our mission.”

How is The Beach Co-op making a difference?

“We are bringing people together who care for our environment, the good of the people and the planet.” The Beach Co-op tries to host as many beach clean-ups as possible, using the ‘Dirty Dozen Methodology’ to help engage with citizens on how they can reduce their impact by reducing and eliminating single-use plastic from their lives. “The Dirty Dozen Methodology is a citizen-based science project that allows volunteers to document the top-12 most commonly found items on our South African beaches. Some of these items include sweet wrappers, straws and chip packets.”

Any words of encouragement for people or communities in need of hope?  

Aaniyah believes that volunteers and individuals who are passionate about making a difference should start small with a few people that share your passion. Soon, it will catch on. “We can make a difference – together we are better.” She continues, “this is how it began for us as a small group of volunteers, cleaning Surfers Corner in Muizenberg, every new moon. And we still do this today. It is our long-term monitoring site, and we work closely with Professor Peter Ryan from the University of Cape Town.”

While there are plenty of initiatives raising awareness about the environment, The Beach Co-op is in a league of its own. For more information about The Beach Co-op, please visit: www.thebeachcoop.org