It’s easy to think that the sea will look after itself. That it’ll keep on doing what it does for millennia to come, just as it always has. And maybe we’d be forgiven for thinking that, seeing as on the surface, things look the same as ever. Big swell days, wild stormy days, sunlight bouncing off the water days. It gives, it takes and appears to be not in the least dependant on our actions, us humans that live and play by the sea, eating its fruits and taking in its beauty.
But how wrong we’d be to think that. To imagine that our actions are of no consequence and that this great body of water will cope with whatever we throw at it. The odd plastic coffee cup lid, the plastic bag, the fallen bottle top. Yet the sea is full of plastic. We see it along the tide lines – no longer the black and brown of bladderwrack and kelp, but full of the colours of every piece of plastic that has ever been made. Crisp wrappers found inside a dolphin, Epsom ink cartridges in the bellies of albatross chicks. These images are our siren calls to wake up, the ocean’s way of bringing our attention to something we’ve been doing that has to stop … now. Without this graphic visual evidence we’d carry on regardless – who doesn’t love the convenience of a tub of hummus or a smoothie on the go? It’s so easy to move with the ease and speed of ‘progress’. Being pulled along by the currents, doing what everyone else is doing, eating and buying whatever the supermarkets package up for us.
Going against the grain is hard, it takes effort to do something different. But as surfers we know what it’s like to do that. Some of us are still building up enough strength to paddle out, to get out back. And there are those of us already out there, calling us on, showing us how it can be done. Whilst I’m not one of those (yet!) when it comes to surfing, I am one of those living a life with less plastic. I heard the call of the seas and responded by doing everything I could to reduce my plastic consumption; travelling with refillable bottles and coffee cups, taking reusable bags to supermarkets, butchers and delis. I make bread and biscuits – despite being a single-mum with a busy job and a full life. I set up an organisation – City to Sea – that aims to make it easier and more fun for people to join in with this way of life – and I’d love you to come along for the ride. Even just for a month – you could start by doing ‘Plastic Free July‘ with me. It’s not easy, but the rewards are beyond what I could ever had imagined from ‘giving something up’.
A small group of people is all it takes to change the world; simple changes make waves.
Article first published in SURFGIRL Magazine, Summer 2016 Issue.