Charity boss has cleanup in the bag
DAILY GRIND Educating people about water quality issues is a way of life for Sam Judd. Karina Abadia talks to the chief executive of Sustainable Coastlines about how he got into the cleanup business.
Sam Judd loves pushing himself out of his comfort zone. That’s partly why he co-founded the charitable organisation Sustainable Coastlines.
Its aim is to raise awareness about the impacts of littering and poor water quality. But saving the environment isn’t Judd’s primary motivation.
‘‘Marine debris directly affects human health and our economic growth. I want to see clean beaches but I also want to be able to feed fish to my 2-year-old daughter without worrying it’s going to make her get sick.’’
The Eden Tce resident studied law and commerce at Otago University and probably would’ve become an international businessman if he hadn’t got involved with beach cleanups.
Sustainable Coastlines was set up in 2009 but the seed had been planted the year before when Judd helped run the first coastal cleanup in the Galapagos Islands.
Then he organised an event at Great Barrier Island where volunteers collected 2.8 tonnes of rubbish in 2009. The following year they picked up 3.1 tonnes.
That’s when he and his team realised they needed to concentrate on shifting attitudes.
‘‘Even though the events were great for the people involved it wasn’t stopping it at its source.
‘‘We started educating students, business people and offenders undertaking community work. We give them a presentation on why it’s important to minimise plastic waste and not to litter.’’
He didn’t take a salary for 21⁄ years but the charity was able to turn professional thanks to its corporate teambuilding events, donations and annual charity ball.
Judd likes the diversity of his work which includes organising riparian planting and coastal cleanup events, giving presentations, writing proposals for large development programmes in the Pacific, liaising with schools, educating offenders and talking to the media.
The 31-year-old works about 80 hours a week but the rewards are huge, he says.
‘‘We can see the change in the community that we’re creating. There are definitely other groups running beach cleanup events but the behavioural change tools we’ve developed are some of the best in the world.’’
The focus of the organisation has broadened over time.
‘‘We realised we can’t do this all ourselves. Even if we had 200 staff we still wouldn’t be meeting the demand.’’
They offer training in delivering their educational presentations to community groups, corporates and government workers and share their materials on the open source platform Love Your Coast as well as Love Your Water, which is still under development.
Judd and the organisation have received plenty of recognition for their work over the years and he was named Kiwibank Young New Zealander of the Year in 2013. ‘‘It was a huge honour,’’ he says. ‘‘But I wasn’t completely comfortable with that recognition because we’ve achieved what we have through teamwork.
‘‘I’m the frontman but there’s 10 of us.’’
Innovative thinking: Sustainable Coastlines chief executive Sam Judd enjoys the challenge and diversity of his role.
Go to aucklandcityharbour news.co.nz and click Latest Edition to watch a video about Sustainable Coastlines.