I spent 10 years trying to get to the remotest coastlines in the North Atlantic and Pacific looking for surf. After years of living the ‘dream’ of Hawaii, Indonesia, Australia and France every year I wanted to find some solitude and a genuine wilderness frontier. Along with a couple of friends Ian Battrick and Timmy Turner, we headed up through Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Iceland and Canada searching for the ultimate surfing wilderness. We found it in British Columbia, wrote a book and started to do talks and slideshows to promote it.
But there was one thing over those ten years that couldn’t be swept under the carpet. We were going to these pristine wildernesses, but they were becoming more and more tainted by human activities which originated miles away. Ten – fifteen years ago there was very little marine litter on the beaches, but in the space of little more than a decade, tonnes of plastic were appearing even on the remotest Arctic beaches.
I started talking about this, along with the surf and adventure, and suddenly this environmental problem becomes so much more relevant to people. It’s not a series of statistics, it’s something that is happening in front of our eyes: at the beach down the road, the beach we love to holiday on and beaches all over the globe on even the most remote coastlines. Portraying this alongside things we love to do, is making people more aware than they ever have been. When I walk into a classroom or a gathering of surfers or people totally unconnected with the sport, the base message of exploration and searching for solitude resonates. It speaks to the inner explorer in all of us, it inspires everyone to one day go out on their own adventure, but it also helps to educate about what we are doing to our planet.
I want people to go to these places having been inspired by the images, film and tales we tell. I want them to love the world’s ocean and coastlines as I do. I also want everyone to realise that by making even just the smallest change to everyday life in the choices they make, whether by refusing single use plastic or simply recycling and reusing whenever they can; they have the power to halt this problem in the future.
The Plastic Project is just one cog in the wheel of change, it has a slightly different approach to other environmental groups, all of whom play a vital role. We all have to remember there are 7.2 billion people on Earth, and we all have a role to play in helping to reverse the massive issue of marine litter. If we can reach more people through this route and inspire change, then The Plastic Project is part of the change we need.
Above - Unstad in the Norwegian high Arctic, a place you'd expect to be pristine, but it is far from it
Above - O'Neill team rider and Plastic Project ambassador Micah Lester, in the Norwegian Arctic, the beaches up here are covered in plastic thanks to currents transporting them across the North Atlantic.
Above - A pristine Arctic point break, fresh powder and surf all in one, just one thing ruining it, the plastic bottles and oil cans on the rocks.
Above - Tim being filmed in The Arctic collecting rubbish
Discarded fishing nets, literally holding together a dune system in Iceland
Above - Destruction in North West Scotland
Above - Arctic Norway tainted scenery