As a crew passionate about sustainability, we can’t ignore the plastic problem. As rowers, we see the sheer volume of waste floating in Bristol harbour as we race past. This is why we took part in a clean held by Surfers Against Sewage, to support their Million Mile Beach Clean initiative to clear up some of Bristol’s plastic and to prevent it reaching the ocean.
Plastic has revolutionised the way we live, with on-the-go food, drinks and snacks wrapped in plastic being a part of daily life. Unfortunately, its handy flexibility and long design life also means its remnants are everywhere. 12 million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans every year, with plastic being found in the deepest parts of the ocean and as far away as Antarctica.
Microplastics now outnumber the stars in the milky way. This plastic pollution is choking the ocean and the creatures that live there.
Surfers Against Sewage are campaigning to eliminate plastic pollution, working to drive progressive policies and legislation focussed on reduction, reuse and refill interventions. In 2019, SAS removed 120,000 kg of plastic pollution from UK beaches. Unfortunately, there is still plenty left to collect as plastic packaging production is increasing – expected to double by late 2030s - we filled 4 sacks worth of rubbish in less than 2 hours.
As we row across the Atlantic, we intend to use as little plastic as possible, avoiding single use and prioritising packaging that can be composted or biodegrade.
Luckily, legislation is changing with great pressure from the public. We need to reduce the production and consumption of non-essential single use plastic and promote a circular economy, ensuring plastics that are created are designed for reuse.
Small differences can make the world of change: simple swaps can reduce your daily plastic use, for example;
remembering a reusable hot drinks cup when going out for coffee
taking your reusable bags or bags for life to the supermarket
saying no to single use plastic bottles.