Sea the Change shares Project AWARE's belief that each and every one of us can make a difference, and all our actions, big or small, have an impact on our blue planet. We talk to Alice and Juliana, Sea the Change's Executive Directors on how they are empowering their local community to adopt new behaviours and attitudes to create a more sustainable world.
What first made you interested in the ocean/nature and protecting it?
Alice and I are both sea lovers, with a passion for community and the place where we live. One of the things that we like the most is to enjoy our beautiful coast so protecting and looking after it seems not only reasonable but also the right thing to do in a time where the human impact on marine life and nature has been more evident like never before.
Why did you set up Sea the Change?
We both shared the vision that each person has a certain degree of responsibility to look after our planet and that individual actions can have a huge impact when multiplied by many. Sustainability is a very strong word and it can be overwhelming in so many ways. Ultimately, it becomes the responsibility of those in power and although we strongly believe in the greater responsibility of the world leaders to deliver more in terms of facilitating changes that can lead to a more sustainable future, we also strongly believe that each and every one of us also has a role to play. Sea the Change’s vision is very simple: we want to make sustainability simple for everyone interested in playing their part. Our aim is to encourage people to make small, achievable changes in attitudes and behaviours that can have a positive, last longing impact on the environment.
What does Sea the Change aim to achieve?
Sea the Change aims to engage with as many people to raise awareness about our impact on the environment and to foster respect and appreciation for our coast. We have engaged with many people in the first year of our existence and it has been really rewarding to see the community response and the desire for positive changes. People of all ages and abilities have embraced the cause and want to play their part in protecting nature and the sea, our aim is to make this possible by sharing our journey and experiences and facilitating this process for those who share our concern of a more positive, sustainable way of living.
What current campaigns/projects are you working on at the moment?
We are currently working towards our Plastic Free Communities in Eyemouth and Berwick-upon-Tweed, this is in line with the Surfers Against Sewage campaign in helping our communities to eliminate three single-use plastics from local establishments. We have had really good responses and it is very reassuring to see the changes local people and organisations are making. Another project we are currently working towards is our Beach Wheelchair Scheme aimed to enable people of all ages and abilities to access our beach activities as well as to use the wheelchairs for leisure, ensuring everyone has equal and full access to the beach. Our workshops are also aimed to reach people of all ages, we work closely with local schools as well as delivering sessions across the Scottish Borders and North Northumberland to educate for change and raise awareness of what we can all do as individuals to reduce our plastic consumption and reduce our carbon footprint to protect the environment. Additionally, we facilitate beach sessions engaging with people of all ages, our hurdle hunts tend to attract more children whereas, our coastal clean-ups are aimed at people of all ages.
What reaction has Sea the Change received from the community?
The community response has been extremely positive and has expanded much more than our initial one year plan which is great! Our workshops are usually fully booked and our events are well attended. The last coastal cleanup event, for example, had more than 115 people attending and in a join up efforts more than 350Kg of litter was collected from our coast. We also have a great social media presence with many people engaging in conversations as well as looking for local alternatives that can help them to make their own changes. Our ethos is to educate for change and help people to make small but impactful decisions that can have an impact based on an informed choice rather than imposition. We always say that each person’s journey is unique and that we all have to find ways that are achievable and sustainable in the long run. We don’t want a few people making perfect changes, we want many people making small but sustainable changes that collectively, can have a long-lasting impact on our environment.
What would be your top three pieces of eco-advice?
Our top three pieces of eco-advice:
- Small changes - Decide on three small, but simple changes that you can make and sustain. For example, could you reduce plastic use within your home or cut down the meat you consume each week. Each individuals’ journey is unique to you with every small change important. It doesn’t matter how simple or small it seems to be, every little bit helps!
- Get organised - Single-use plastics are a huge problem but the majority of these can be reduced if we begin to think about the items with might need when on the go - start your day by making sure you always carry a water bottle and reusable coffee cup.
- Get your voice heard - if you don’t like the packaging, products or policies that are out there then feed that back to businesses and your local MP. Send an email/tweet - photograph the rubbish you find, #isthisyours? Change will only happen when consumers start requesting it. That’s the same for policymakers - politicians are not the only ones who can declare a public crisis, collectively we have the power to demand that change happens.