It’s no secret that the beaches of the world are under siege by mountains of plastic. To lay the blame on anyone is not rational. It is collectively the culmination of a policy of single use plastic across the planet, the lack of education with regards to consequence of pollution, and in some cases, cultural differences and class strata that have allowed for this to happen. The need for change however, is tangible, and surfers are on the forefront of an eco-aware wave of change that is reverberating across the globe.
It’s not just good enough to be that person who subscribes to recycling domestic waste programs, or buys cute up-cycled products at the flea markets. To be an agent of change it is so much more important to inform and to educate people in a non-judgmental way as to the error of their ways and how to correct the possible mistakes they are making, rather than berating people for their behavior. It’s nice to be nice, even though there is much urgency in the worldwide plastic pollution situation.
There are a few very basic elements that come into play when keeping beaches in Scotland, and anywhere else in the whole world, clean and free of dangerous single use plastics in their many forms and guises. The first and most basic is to not use single-use plastic in any form whatsoever. No plastic shopping bags from the supermarket, and no straws. No plastic wrappers for the school lunches and no food and vegetable items bought from a store that uses any sort of plastic or cling-film to wrap. It is totally unnecessary and will most likely be banned shortly if not already. Choose brown bags, bring your own bags, drink out of the glass or carry your own bamboo straw with you. (Handy tip: Bamboo straws make an awesome stocking filler for Christmas) Do not falter for the sake of convenience. If it is too difficult to drink that milkshake without a straw, use a metal spoon. Do something that counts, and that people look up to you for.
At this stage in the history of the planet, we are going to be finding rubbish floating up with the tide for many years to come. After a particularly big tide or strong onshore storm, there will be piles of plastic waste washing up and settling on the shoreline. Sometimes the volume of plastic waster can be totally overwhelming, but there is a way to stop feeling beleaguered by it all. There is an organisation called Take 3, aimed at surfers and ocean users, that persuades everyone to ‘take 3 for the sea’ or take away three pieces of plastic every single time they go the beach or to a waterway, in a long term bid to rid the oceans of plastic. This is a powerful movement, and one that is easy enough to join and or adhere to, as it is uncomplicated, clear in it’s message, and has a massive following already. According to the website https://www.take3.org/ their impact thus far has been something like:
10 million pieces of rubbish removed annually
Participation in 129 countries, and
300,000 people educated.
If you want to do something good but really simple, then Take 3 is the easiest way to start or if you want to get more involved there is a fantastic organisation called Surfers against Sewage who is uniting communities in the fight against single use plastics with organised beach cleans, you can find more information on their website at https://www.sas.org.uk/plastic-free-communities/.
Finally, there is the matter of the surf industry and what we as surfers and consumers plough through on a daily basis in our surfing lives. Surfboards are toxic, the manufacturing process in making wetsuits is toxic, sunscreens bleach and destroy coral, and even the surf industry clothing that we wear with so much respect is part of the problem as opposed to a part of the solution.
Having said that, most big surf brands now have a recycled range within their stables, and this sort of movement and these ranges seem to be growing.
Shaka Surf offer surf fins made out of recycled plastic bottle caps, as well as recycled cork traction pads as part of their campaign. https://shaka-surf.com/
Billabong has the Recycler range, where they make board shorts and other goods with recycled PET bottles. In fact, most surf brands have a recycled range.
Patagonia makes wetsuit out of Yulex that is environmentally friendly and responsibly - made https://www.patagonia.com/home/
Everyone needs to be part of the solution.
At HeiloH our products will only be made using natural or recycled materials and we won't make any use of plastic packaging, only recycled paper.
Now it’s your turn.