In honor of Earth Day we teamed up with mom, surfer, and entrepreneur Audrey Hills, to talk about plastic consumption for beach-lovers like us.
There’s really no better way to end an epic day of surfing than a cold beverage and a tasty snack on the beach with friends. But what happens when you show up unprepared for the sunset session?
Cheetos, McDonald’s, single-use sporks, and plastic bags happen.
Love it or hate, surfing is becoming more popular by the minute. More surfers = more people using our beaches around the world. While you may guard your home beach like a hawk, you might not be so protective of places you visit along the way. Everyone who surfs has witnessed a pile of garbage by someone who didn’t care or know better.
So, how do we fight the omnipresence of plastics in our ocean and on our beaches?
While organizations like the Changing Tides Foundation are able to appeal to people on mass through social media and campaigns like The Plastic Swear Jar Initiative that kicks off on Earth Day each year, they recognize that we’ve all got to do our part to change our own behavior.
That’s why this summer, you should join the B.Y.O. Revolution (we’re not talking about just wine)…
If you already updated your consumption habits to include carrying reusable water bottles, coffee cups, straws, cutlery, or grocery bags, the next step is changing how you roll to the beach, on trips, and on adventures with food and drinks.
If you’re still stopping to grab something before you get to the beach from a burger joint, taco shop, or sushi spot, chances are you are served your grinds in some kind of non-reusable wrapping. Many restaurants have switched to using recycled or biodegradable containers, but finding a recycling bin that will take those containers at the beach is very unlikely, especially if they haven’t been rinsed off. So what do you do? You do the “right thing” to keep the beach clean and chuck them in the bin, only to join the piles of containers in the landfill.
So, what should you do instead?
- Invest in a decent cooler bag to bring your own food – it’s healthier, cheaper, and produces less plastic. Bonus points if your cooler is made from sustainable materials and gives back, like this one.
- Use reusable containers that you already have – mom’s Tupperware, cleaned out yogurt containers, previously used zip-lock pouches (the kind nuts come in) – to pack your own lunch and snacks.
- Make it easy to use all your reusables like straws, cutlery, wine tumblers, etc. by storing them in your beach cooler.
- If you have to stop and grab something ask the restaurant to box your food in your own container if they allow that.
- Pack and carry home all your rubbish so that you can clean, sort, and reuse or recycle everything you have.
- Never ever leave home without your reusable water bottle, if you have one like this Hydro Flask, you can use it for margaritas or hard kombucha later in the day because the stainless steel won’t take on the flavor the next day.
- Take your reusable gear and a cooler on your surf trips this summer. The countries where we love to surf the most are often the most damaged by plastic consumption.
While recycling all the things we use on daily basis seems like a great idea, the fact is that most of the things we try to recycle don’t actually get re-made into anything. Of the 267.8 million tons of municipal solid waste generated by Americans in 2017, only 94.2 million tons were recycled or composted according to the EPA. In fact, only 8% of plastics used were actually recycled.
In foreign countries, recycling is as rare as a toilet you can put toilet paper in. If you have traveled to remote surf destinations in places like the Philippines, Indonesia, Panama, or Mexico, you will have seen firsthand the effect of plastic waste on our favorite waves and nearby communities.
The point is that the less you use, the less you have to try to recycle (or falsely believe that you recycled).
With more surfers in the world than ever before, we know our beaches will take a hit. That’s why you should set an example for the newbies by packing in any trash you bring to the beach and by planning ahead to create less waste in the first place.
You really can’t lose bringing your own everything because it not only means cleaner oceans, it means you’ll eat healthier and have more energy for your next shred session. Plus, you’ll always be prepped to enjoy one of the world’s greatest simple pleasures: a cold beer when you come in from a surf.
Audrey Hills is a Californian attorney living in Sydney, Australia with her two children. Audrey is an avid surfer and is committed to combating ocean plastic pollution and establishing a woman’s place in the water. She recently launched the Coolio and her company, Everyday Makai on Kickstarter and was 100% funded within 24 hours. She also runs a blog dedicated to mothers who surf, travel, and refuse to lose their wild side called Surf Stoked Moms.
Please check out the author’s Kickstarter Campaign which ends April 28, 2021. She has created a lightweight cooler bag called the Coolio that is made from recycled materials. The Coolio is aimed to change beach and surf travel habits by encouraging surfers to bring their own everything.