The Plastic Project is entering its fifth year and is going from strength to strength. After spending ten years working on a surf magazine as well as being a freelance surf photographer, Tim Nunn came to a decision. He could no longer keep going to some of the remotest coastlines of the world without speaking out about the catastrophic pollution that was affecting them. So with the knowledge that photography speaks louder than words or science, he started combing through his photo library covering adventures of surf exploration in remote locations.
“I always felt that environmental problems just don’t connect with enough people. Stats and scientific reports rarely inspire a reaction, but when you get in front of people and tell them about the rough adventures we have, it connects, and then it’s just a duty to let people know that we’re destroying these last wild stretches of coastline with our plastic addiction.”
Since starting the project Tim has made a point of reaching young people especially and has stood and given his slide/film show to over 20,000 people ranging from schools to corporate events. “Whilst online and social media is a great way to reach people, there is nothing like getting up and telling people face to face about the adventures and the problems.”
The project has been so successful largely because of how raw the adventures have been. Tim has been accompanied by the likes of adventurer Ian Battrick from Jersey and feral explorer Timmy Turner right through to young big wave charger Russell Bierke.
“It’s this edge, of doing everything on a shoe string, living rough to make ends meet in places like Iceland, Canada and Norway which has really captivated audiences.” Tim explains: “We’ve had some great help along the way over the last fifteen years, but have always had to pay for everything on a next to zero budget, but rough camping just makes for an even better experience. You end up finding more waves, having more fun and ultimately experiencing places in a much better way than staying in hotels.”
We live in a world of glorious imagery on a daily basis from across the planet on Instagram, but whilst these images may inspire us to travel, they don’t show the full picture. “I started to get frustrated, people are existing in a rose tinted world, so we have to not only inspire but educate about what the real situation that exists.”
Using surfing has helped the message spread far and wide, and as Tim points out surfers and photographers are accidental environmentalists. “No other group of people on the planet spend as much time in the ocean. In a three hour session we maybe only actually surf for ten minutes, the rest of the time we are bobbing around noticing what’s going on, we know when a place is polluted. The other outstanding aspect of surf exploration is going to places that no one else ever goes to; thus we are best placed to monitor and document through film and stills exactly what’s going on. If we don’t speak up for the ocean, we are betraying the thing we love”
As well as initiating a global educational programme and giving talks, Tim is now launching a series of short films, photographic exhibitions and books to help spread the word, as well as continuing to travel to the remotest corners of the planet in search of adventure, surf and rubbish.
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