You might have heard and read already quite a lot about “the plastic issue”. However, in this article we want to show you some options for doing something about the problem: Simple actions and many great initiatives – often from surfers for surfers.
We hope to inspire you with them!
At this point we will not detail again the amounts of fishing nets, PET-bottles or micro plastic parts which overload our oceans – you probably already know about that, or have maybe even read about it in one of our previous posts about sustainable surf gear. A fact you might still not know, however, is that plastic is also a driver for global warming! And why?
PLASTIC AND ITS IMPACT – ALSO ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Plastic is refined from oil and in this process greenhouse gases are created, which enhance directly climate warming. And if more plastic is consumed, the oil industry and their refining processes are increasing (and this occurs even when fuel prices are changing).
And what happens with plastic after it is used, even if it doesn´t end up in our oceans? It releases C02, no matter if it is burned or if it decomposes “naturally” on a landfill/waste or dump and this takes over hundreds of years. So once again we realize that plastic (-garbage) is not only a visual disaster, but the environmental impact of it is dramatic.
BUT WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
3 simple and still not that simple actions you can do to fight plastic pollution:
If you need a tune for it, listen to the 3R-song from Jack Johnson ;-).
First of all, of course we ourselves do have to REDUCE plastic consumption. Even if you think you are conscious about plastic use, have you ever calculated you daily plastic garbage? This can be a good (and shocking) exercise about what we actually consume. Especially if you are aware, that every single bin of garbage you fill up, has generated already ten bins full of garbage in the production of the goods you finally consumed.
Banning plastic bags from Fuerteventura (Canary Island, Spain) as well as fighting against plastic coffee mugs and straws, are some simple examples of what organisations like the Clean Ocean Project do to protect the oceans, waves and beaches.
Then we really need to REUSE our plastic products. Especially when we are travelling, we often forget about our intentions as in some surf destinations (like Asia or Latin America) plastics are hard to avoid. Have you checked out Apps where you can see where to refill your water bottle? Have you thought of buying 5 litre bottles instead of smaller ones, although it´s a bit of a pain in the neck carrying them?
And then, of course we need to RECYCLE. And here of course the local infrastructure and government comes in, as well as the awareness of the society and people contributing to it.
There are some great initiatives, like Waste to Waves in California, which recycle plastic waste (like Styrofoam) into new, eco-friendlier surfing products. (We will soon write more about it.)
A special international project which got our attention is Precious Plastic. The motivated team behind the project not only designs and develops machines to recycle plastic but they also show the world how to replicate them and make products like furniture or construction material. They even give tips how to set up your own business with it and they provide a community to connect recyclers and share solutions.
MORE THAN THAT!
But even if we are very good reducers, re-users and recyclers, we still face a last challenge when fighting the plastic problem: we need to remove waste from our beaches and oceans, raise awareness within our surroundings, and we have to put pressure on leading authorities and decision makers, so a real change can happen.
Get inspired by some organisations
A good example of an organisation doing all that, is the well-known British charity Surfers Against Sewage. It started in the 90ies as a grassroots movement of motivated surfers who wanted to protect the ocean, waves, beaches and wildlife. Today they have beach clean ups with thousands of volunteers, educational (school) programs and campaigns addressing the government and industry and they manage to have a positive impact.
Another, a bit different project, is the Plastic Ocean Project: they do field research and outreach initiatives, like producing a documentary. The project tries to bring together a community of academics, NGOs & Nonprofits, Individuals, Entrepreneurs and Government to find solutions for plastic prevention and removal from the oceans.
And then of course, there are many organisations and initiatives organizing or promoting beach clean ups, like the 5 Minute Foundation or 2 Minute Beach Cleanup (#2minute campaigns)
After all contributing to education on plastic waste is key to make a long lasting change. And not only schools and educational institutions can do so!
YOU CAN RAISE MORE AWARENESS
3 ideas to raise more awareness:
1. Being a Marine Activist
One can also be a marine activist without riots, violence or noise. Here we see a great example of the “Plastic Project” and how we can (all) raise awareness with a simple idea. With some humor you might do the difference:
2. Spreading the word with a powerful video
The visualization through pictures and films is a powerful tool where emotions and facts can be communicated at the same time.
Look at that great example of James Roberts:
3. Using a business model to contribute to less waste
Maybe you even manage to make your money with a product which reduces, reuses or recycles plastics – there are more and more businesses who are getting inspired by the desire of contributing to the environment in a positive way. One of the many positive examples is the 4ocean project, who pull one pound of trash from the ocean and coastline for every product purchased. In our equipment section you can also read about some great recycled or plasticfree products.
But also if you don´t make your business with it, there are many ways to be an actor. Maybe in the company you are working for, you can change something towards plastic-free, recycle or reuse behaviour. Or also just talking to your family and friends or using social media are small and simple actions you can take to make a change.
EVERYONE CAN MAKE A CHANGE!
“We can have deposit return systems, more recycling facilities, circular economies but if every person on the planet isn’t made aware of the issue in the first place, and the fact that we can all as individuals make a difference then it’s all of limited use.”
[The Plastic Project]
Us, from surf & mind, we also want to continue raising awareness about the topic and spreading the word for positive projects! Maybe we can inspire you with more ideas (check also our insta- and facebook account). We would also look forward to hearing from you about your experience, examples and thoughts about plastic!!
Header-Fotocredit: Brian Yurasist