The world is finally waking up to the devastating effects of plastic pollution at sea. Increasingly, disturbing images of the often fatal impact our use of plastic is having on marine life are appearing in the media. It may all seem depressing. On the flip side, there is a groundswell of momentum in people wanting to do something to address the crisis. Politicians are getting on board; a sure sign the public voice is being heard.
The gig community is perfectly placed to be part of this movement. Our clubs are ideally located along the coastline to see first-hand the proliferation of plastic on our beaches, but also to do something about it.
North Devon club, Torridge PGC has members who are involved in Plastic Free Coastlines, a Surfers Against Sewage initiative which aims to reduce plastic use. Members have also been involved in the local beach cleaning movement. The club thought it could do more and is developing a ‘Plastic Free Policy ‘in line with the ‘Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ‘message which will be central to its operation. The Policy will address such issues as reducing plastic use at regattas, for example, asking clubs to bring a refillable water bottle to reduce single use water bottle sales and using reusable hot drink cups. Plastic found in the Torridge estuary during training rows is being picked up and club beach cleans and plastic collection events are being planned, hopefully in collaboration with neighbouring clubs. Members will support other clubs in ensuring beaches and harbours are clear of plastic debris after regattas.
We’re hearing stories through the grapevine of other clubs doing good things too. Cornish neighbours, Boscastle & Crackington PGC are actively involved and working closely with The Cleaner Seas Project and had a single use bottle free regatta last year with ReFILL station at the National Trust cafe. They also hosted Wayne & Koda (litter picking around the UK) in Boscastle and then took them out for a row from Boscastle following a litter pick in the harbour. 2018 sees BCGC incorporating a harbour clean every time they row from Boscastle and when safe to do so remove plastic from the sea when they see it.
Bridport have stopped selling plastic water bottles at their regattas and there are probably other clubs engaging in the issue. It would be good to know who and how.
As Torridge Chair, Jane Halloway, says ‘There is a great opportunity for the gig rowing community to come together in helping reduce the impact of plastic on the wonderful coastline we are all so lucky to enjoy’.
Torridge PGC would be pleased to share ideas in collaboration with clubs who also wish to get on board with reducing the impact of plastic. Let’s work on the scourge of plastic together!
If you’re interested in sharing ideas or discussing how your club can get involved, please get in touch with Jane Fish or Sian Davies, email: [email protected]
Courtesy of Sian Davies, Torridge PGC