I’ve always been into the wild, the environment and what we’re doing to it. It’s been something that was drilled into me growing up within what is now a National Park. But what is incredible is that during the last 20 years, the time I have been doing my job, how much everything has changed.
When I joined Wavelength Mag it was owned by an offshoot of the Daily Mail group, it was corporate as hell. One of the first things I had to do was to explain that although our mag was losing a ton of money we had to keep giving organisations like Surfers Against Sewage free ads, and a load of editorial; back then they were really the only people doing anything to protect the very environment we relied on for our pastime. They still are the only group that look after so much of our interests. Now more or less a decade on the movement to protect our oceans is growing in strength, but the task is so massive it needs so much help to succeed.
I have, quite by chance, spoken to several people who have been working on “A Plastic Ocean” over the last couple of years. I was totally amped to see the trailer. A full big production film looking at ocean litter hasn’t been produced before and this will be the cornerstone of an effort that will hopefully change the way the whole planet thinks. Have a look at the trailer and check out their site for premiers here –
Then there are people who are looking to clean up the oceans. The Seabin project is one of the most interesting. I come from a sailing background as well as surfing, and know how harbours and marinas become collection points for marine litter.
Other ideas are more controversial; large scale booms/curtains are clearly going to damage the very ecosystem we’re trying to save, but are they going to be essential in order to remove some of the rubbish? The jury is out globally despite press sensationalism about teenagers cleaning up the planet.
But there are huge organisations like 5 Gyres and the likes of Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd who are researching and trying to make changes on a huge scale to what is going on in the world’s seas.
Then there are the grass root organisations: SAS is one close to home, then there are 2 Minute Beach Clean and Take 3 in Australia. Local groups have been formed like Widemouth Task Force or Rame Peninsula group. There are hundreds of others who are all inspiring everyone who goes to the beach to do something about it. If we all took some rubbish off the beach every time we went, that would be less plastic to break down and enter the food chain, it’s essential, as is all the above.
But, this is what I think, every human on the planet has to make a change. All the efforts above are essential, but at the moment it’s the equivalent of having a hole in a boat and ignoring it, just finding more people to bail. We have to start stemming the flow of rubbish into the ocean, but how? Stop using single use plastic (water bottles, straws, takeaway packaging just to name a few), always recycle and if something says it can’t be recycled, don’t buy it. We sometimes forget it’s the consumer that has the power to force change. Support companies that are looking to make a change, there are loads of ethical companies which are shunning packaging, and it’s not just small ones (Surf Dome and Adidas are both cutting plastic packaging to the bare minimum). Then there is applying pressure for legislation. Yep SAS etc. lobby on our behalf, but sign petitions like this ONE calling for a ban on micro beads in cosmetics. The US has banned them it’s time we did the same in the UK. Then there has to be a shift on the creation of packaging, that’s going to take some clever product and packaging designers, to probably first reduce plastic especially and then replace it. This is already happening, but we have the power to put pressure on companies to change this. Finally there is the power of spreading the word. I’ve now been into countless schools and festivals talking, and one thing I have found out is hardly anyone in the great scheme of things knows about this, and that has to change. I started this project to inspire people to love our coastlines through images of surf and adventure enough to make them want to care about it, and that is working and will continue. You have to love something to have the will to protect it, and I believe everyone does love our wild coastal space, oceans and everything that lives within them.
I’ll conclude this blog with one of many info graphics that are around, just to further illustrate the problem. If you’d like to help The Plastic Project you can always do HERE.