As trainers and Dive Professionals, we have a responsibility to set an example that others can follow.
As part of the Divemaster Course I teach my students to demonstrate role-model behaviour when diving or assisting courses. But it goes further than that. We as dive leaders need to lead the way with Ocean Conservation and protection. After all, this is not just our play space, it's our workplace too.
Many people, and many cultures don't understand the damage that they cause by hasty or inconsiderate actions. How many times have you heard people say - 'how can one plastic bottle / straw / plastic bag make a difference' or 'it's only one bag'?
'It's only one straw' said you and 7 billion other people.
If the public don't have a different role model to follow, they will follow the actions of the group they are a part of. If that group uses plastic bottles and single use bags, throws their trash in the ocean, leaves litter on the ground, then that is 'normal', and we can't expect them to behave any differently. They need to be shown that there is a different way.
If we show them that there is another way, we can start to change habits and ingrained behaviours. If they see us picking up the trash, removing debris on a dive, using re-usable water bottles, not accepting plastic bags, using reef-safe sunscreen, then we are showing them an alternative.
No-one says it will be easy, there's no quick fix here. Plastics are a part of our lives now, and whole nations have changed from natural bio-degradable products to plastic ones. Banana leaf plates are now replaced by disposable plastic plates. Bamboo chopsticks are now plastic chopsticks or plastic spoons. China plates and bowls replaced by Melamine.
We are not easily going to replace plastics in our life, but we can reduce single-use plastics, encourage responsible trash disposal, and remove debris from our environment whenever we see it.
There are many more Divemasters than there are Instructors. As Instructors it is our duty not only to show the way as role-models in life, but to teach all our students, particularly our Divemasters to lead the way too.