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Community Clean Ups: PARLEY for the Oceans. By Suzanne Rath

Monday, December 23, 2019 2:34 PM | Lesley Van Staveren (Administrator)

Community Clean Ups: PARLEY for the Oceans.

From its exterior in Cairns North, Shirtbox looks like many other businesses in the area. At first glance you may not notice the solar panels installed by owners Christian and Maren and you may not be aware of their eco-friendly printing practices. From the exterior, you won’t see the hive of activity going on in the large backyard, as volunteers work to painstakingly sort through the ‘treasure’ gathered during Parley Australia’s local and remote FNQ beach cleans. Surrounded by dozens of Parley labelled hessian bags, they ensure everything that can be recycled, is recycled. Some of the volunteers start joke ‘collections’ from what they find on the beach- small toys for example, or interesting dolls. Christian and Maren have a large shipping container which they fill with found plastic that should be recyclable, however they have not yet managed to find a reliable source to do this. Often this is because the plastic is contaminated- with dirt or other rubbish picked up in the ocean or on the beach. Sticking with the Parley ethos, they’ll keep trying to find a way that is ethical to do this.

Parley for the Oceans describe themselves as a space ‘where creators, thinkers and leaders come together to raise awareness for the beauty and fragility of our oceans and collaborate on projects that end their destruction.’ They are potentially most famous for their collaboration with Adidas, who make a line of training wear from at least 75% upcycled plastic trash, produced with a low energy and low water printing process. Christian has been involved as a photographer and filmmaker with Parley for over 4 years and petitioned the founder, Cyrill Gutsch, to allow them to set up a branch in Australia. Parley Australia has been in action for just over a year, running a prolific number of beach clean ups and remote camping clean up trips. Cairns has a strong group of regular volunteers, aged between 20-35 and they are always happy to welcome more people to their clean ups. Volunteers can rest assured that Parley operate to the highest standards- they have pulled out of clean ups before when they learned that the boat was funded by Sea World, for example. Parley doesn’t rely on any Australian based funding and clean ups are low cost- with volunteers often car-pooling or contributing a small amount towards camping trips. It’s also a great way for visiting backpackers to get a trip to some of the region’s most beautiful areas, such as Cape Tribulation, while contributing to the health of our planet.

I had the pleasure of spending a night with the Parley Crew camping and cleaning up Dunk Island a few weeks ago. 25 of us picked up over 250kg of rubbish by day one. This included- a huge water tank, lots of broken glass and the hard to spot remnants of clay pigeon shooting targets. Containing petrochemicals, these are obviously extremely toxic to the environment and may make anyone think twice about the recreational activities they engage in while on a resort holiday.

Anyone wishing to become involved with a Parley clean up can link up with Parley Australia on Facebook. For more information on the Parley movement, go to


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