It’s 1998, I’m in a surf mag office in Norfolk, yep the little bulge on the east coast of the UK. That mag is an underground, yet widely read journal called Sponger, a glorious celebration of everything to do with British bodyboarding at the time, I know they were heady times. I filmed, a lot, and worked on the mag with Roger Sharp AKA Sharpy. He had just been on a nineties strike mission. Back then these were based Michael Fish and a synoptic chart you saw for mere seconds during the BBC weather forecast. This one though was cast iron, and a bodyboarder called Danny Wall, one of the UK’s best ever wave riders and another guy from Plymouth called Barry were keen. Going down to France in the spring was at the time a bit of an oddity, everyone knew you hit France in late summer and autumn. But the boys had heard of a bank, a swell and an offshore forecast and hit the road (there were no cheap flights then either).
They scored big time, this peak was their’s for a day and was absolutely bombing. However the talking point after the surf was all about what was on the beach. We’d all experienced rubbish and sewage in the water in France back then, it was a problem that was being sorted, much like in the UK at the same time, but the plastic was also out of control already. This is the only image we have left of the beach, but you can see it is strewn with plastic bottles, and there were a lot more on the tide line, and this was twenty years ago. This image is somewhat fortuitous, without it The Plastic project may not have a reference point in Europe, but what it has allowed us to do is build off it, and we have a consistent timeline of the size of the problem, and some evidence that precedes this.
The point is, this isn’t a new problem, and even before we release the film, we want to stress this, surf photographers have accidentally documented the rise in pollution for decades, it’s not a new thing, we are way too late to the plastic party and thus we need to accelerate our response.
Help us take The Plastic Project film on tour in May and June, just a pound from everyone who visits this site will be enough to get us round Ireland, UK, France and Germany.