As surfers, we should be the ocean’s equivalent of the canary down the mine; if the ocean isn’t healthy, it will probably be dirty, or smelly or something that will turn us off. Changes in surfer behaviour as a result of poor water quality, should immediately raise alarms.
It is already happening in California where guidelines state to stay out of the water for up to 3 days after rain. At my home surfbreak in New Zealand, there have been reports of human faeces floating in the lineup (heartbreaking, I know...). In Morocco I saw, and could smell, raw effluent flowing freely into a lineup of perfect a-frame peaks; this evaporated my stoke levels and kept me on dry land. Infamously, Bali sees shocking scenes of rubbish lined barrels on an annual basis.
Better photoshop that out for the tourism brochure... Image Courtesy of www.tourismconcern.org.uk
That doesn’t even mention huge ocean gyers collecting rubbish, or how terrible and hopeless we feel each time there is an oil spill like The Deepwater Horizon in 2010, that decimates innocent wildlife.
The worst part? Sadly, when it comes to the ocean, out of sight out of mind is the all too common mentality.
Ok, I’m sorry - I know this is getting really depressing, and clearly something has to change. So what can we do about it?
Lets not make the situation worse - Changing habits
Start asking yourself questions like ‘Can this be reused? Is there a biodegradable alternative?' Recycle and repurpose as much as you can in order to minimize waste, or better still say 'No thanks' to the offer of a plastic bag when you buy just a couple of items...if you’re brave, hold your friends and family accountable too; nothing quite like peer pressure to get results (in only the nicest way). Bye Bye Plastic Bags are doing a great job of simply raising awareness, and you can easily help by spreading their word on social media.
Beach clean ups & an alternative use for key pockets
Like primary school detention, but voluntary, and with a warm fuzzy feeling! Organisations like Surfers Against Sewage, Project Aware, and Surfrider Foundation regularly organise beach cleanups which are a super easy way to start to make a difference. Even better, if you spot a plastic wrapper floating around while surfing, stash it in your key pocket and dispose of it properly later on.
You're allowed to be excited about cleaning! Image Courtesy of www.projectaware.org
Don’t use petroleum based products
There is a lot of talk about using a ‘natural,’ ‘eco,’ or ‘green’ products, but the simple fact - which you don’t need a science degree to understand - is this: If a product uses petroleum oil, or its by-products, this means opportunities for disasters like oil tankers crashing or oil wells leaking.
Oil derivatives are commonly used in skincare, primarily because it is cheap. Some of the names to be keep an eye out for are petrolatum/white petroleum jelly/white soft paraffin in skincare (sounds nice and cuddly like a Puffin, but in reality is far more sinister - the UK Government even felt the need to warn that it is flammable - so, a fire breathing Puffin, perhaps).
P.S. SETT Surf is proudly petrolatum free, and as a side note we don't test on animals. Queue smug grin.
This is the tip of the iceberg and there is a myriad of ways to make a difference and help improve the state of our ocean’s health. What other tips and suggestions do you have to help health of the oceans and indeed, the whole planet? I would love to hear them in the comments below.
Thanks - talk soon,
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