As surfers we are immersed in the wonders of nature more than most. It's no surprise then that protecting the environment comes naturally to us.
When the ocean is your playground you notice pretty swiftly when that playground is covered in turds, broken glass and plastic bottles. Thanks to the efforts of organisations like Surfers Against Sewage, and grass-roots local campaigns across the land, the days of poop in the line up are near done. The only floaters to be seen are the rad ones you're hopefully nailing on the end section.
The menace now isn't so much King Kong's finger floating through your spot and the associated health risks that came with it (hands up who misses the days of getting gastroenteritis as a reward for just going for a surf?) but a new disease that's infecting the whole planet.
It's just your humble squashed zooplankton and algae from millions of years back come back to haunt us. Those little critters got squished by geological processes over the millennia and became lovely goopy oil. If that process didn't happen the world would be a very different place. But like coal those compressed sources of energy have shaped our civilisation and none more so than the black gold.
Oil is a mother of so many things. The juice that powers your motor. The foam that your board is made from, the resin it's glassed with, the neoprene in your wetsuit, the leash that keeps your precious safe. All oil products. All hard to recycle effectively. So there's a hypocrisy in the 'environmental surfer' stance. Especially if you travel frequently to surf.
But surfer debris is a side issue compared to the plastic contagion. No matter where you are on the planet in the ocean odds on sooner or later a plastic bottle will drift merrily past. We're literally burying the planet in plastic crap. Moving away from reusable glass bottles and more simply recycled aluminium cans to make a slightly bigger profit margin is dooming the environment.
Progress isn't always a good thing.
Your grandparents wicker shopping basket would've lasted decades. But some bright spark decided single use plastic bags were more convenient. They ain't convenient for the planet. Again they're an issue that's been battled and near won. They're not the scourge they were. Bottles and other packaging are. They're the next battle in the war on plastic.
SAS and others are campaigning for a bottle deposit scheme. It needs our support. As do many other worthy schemes. And you can vote with your pocket. Support companies that sell their goods in sensible, recycled, minimal packaging.
We don't want to be the last generation that remembers beaches that were made of more sand than plastic...
Leonor Fragoso on the edge of the vast Indian Ocean. Even out here in the remote, sparsely populated equatorial Maldives plastic bottles are a common sight... PHOTO: SHARPY