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A day in the Life of a Seabin Environmental Technician

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Written by Seabin Foundation

Introduction

Our fleet of Seabins is out there working day and night to collect marine litter and other pollutants. The fleet is amazing at collecting rubbish, but it needs back up and that’s where our Seabin Environmental Technicians come in. They are the feet on the ground, responsible for maintaining the fleet, collecting and managing data, engaging with the community and conducting educational events. As the age-old saying goes “No two days are the same for a Seabin Enviro Tech!

We spoke to our Lead Enviro Tech Tom, who works on the Sydney Smart Cities for Cleaner Oceans campaign in Sydney Harbour to find out what goes on in “a day in the life” of a Seabin Environmental Technician.

 

 

What are the best and worst parts of your job?

There are lots of parts of my job that are the ‘best’ parts! I love having a tangible impact with my own hands physically removing rubbish, I love chatting to people, filling them with passion and empowering them to understand the issue and act. I love problem-solving and the mix of hard work and deep satisfaction but most of all I love waking up every morning to go to ‘work’ and having a huge feeling of excitement rather than dread. I know that’s rare and I feel very lucky.

The worst part is walking away from the rubbish in the water. On some rare occasions, I just cannot spend enough time at a certain Seabin and I have to walk away, leaving it to do its thing knowing full well that there is still rubbish in the water. Some days it is totally overwhelming. Like 200kgs at one unit overwhelming!

 

 

What skills are required to be an Enviro Technician?

There are some skills that are important, like knowing how to use basic hand tools for servicing and repairs, understanding ocean conditions and being confident representing the Seabin brand in board rooms, schools and to the media. Hopefully, without sounding lame, it really comes down to passion. While a marine science or environmental science degree helps a lot there is no amount of education that will beat a person who lives and breathes what we do at Seabin.

Enviro Technicians have evolved since I came on board as the very first one and it is exciting to think about hiring for the future knowing what I now know about the role. There is so much variety in the day!

 

 

You’re out on Sydney Habour every weekday, are there any familiar faces that you see?

For sure and taking the time to stop during a busy day and chat to the general public, marina staff and local legends are incredibly important. It’s important that we keep the messaging positive and engaging allowing us to develop real relationships throughout the day. Sharing our excitement with the public during our day is both important and impossible to hide (for me anyway).

We have so much support in Sydney Harbour and this recent COVID-19 lockdown across Sydney was the perfect example of this. Scotty at Jones Bay/Sydney Wharf, who works for Scope Marine, one of the first adopters of Seabin tech in the harbour is a top guy. I am always excited to get to that zone to chat to him about ocean adventures, pat his dog Rudi and of course, talk a little trash because Jones Bay is a huge collector of rubbish and currently has 3 units. Scotty is the perfect example of a stakeholder who has adopted our full service from rubbish removal to data generation plus everything community in between. He is stoked because his customers (who rent berths to keep their boats) are really happy to have cleaner water and as an ocean guy with a sailing/surfing background he also has the passion for doing his bit to clean up our harbour.

There are plenty of other characters like Julio, a kind and colourful Argentinian man who has been hand varnishing boats at Cruising Yacht Club in Rushcutters Bay for 27 years. He is always great for a chat and pumps tunes so loud with an equally loud singing voice that I can hear him when I pull up in the carpark. He always gives my day a great kickstart and has taken on the role of looking out for our 6 units there when I have gone for the day.

 

What are some of the more unusual things you have found in the Seabins

I’m constantly amazed at what our Seabins pull out of the water, in particular, just the sheer weight of rubbish every week. One day I fished out a huge yellow tarp from the water at Sealife aquarium which had printed all over it CAUTION HUMAN REMAINS. It turned out to be empty which I was very happy about!

 

Since starting with Seabin all that time ago what’s been the biggest thing you’ve learnt about marine litter in Sydney Harbour?

I’ve learnt a huge amount about the marine litter in Sydney Harbour. My biggest takeaway is that not only is it prevalent, but it’s a massive problem. Our data shows this and it’s something we have to remember to share with the public as a lot of people simply don’t know that rubbish is an issue. Sydney Harbour looks pristine in the right areas or on the right day but this is the exact reason we are here cleaning up 24/7, 365 days a year. The data we are gathering is painting a picture that is both scary and unknown to a lot of the general public and even to our governments. Our role has become incredibly important not only in the cleanup where we have a huge impact but in the creation of this data which we can use to work with governments to prevent rubbish from entering our waterways. We need these working relationships if we have any chance of cleaner oceans for future generations.

My biggest takeaway? There is an insane amount of rubbish entering our harbour every single day and Seabins are the only consistent solution that looks at cleanup, data monitoring and prevention together.

 

 

How to get involved

There are over 1000 Seabins around the world, all contributing to the global Pollution index, so contact us here to find out where the closest Seabin location to you may be and how you can get involved on our mission for cleaner oceans.

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