Plas­tic beach

Carve - - INTRODUCTION - Sharpy Ed­i­tor

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

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