Change Makers Part 1: Q&A With Pete Lewis – Director of Fundraising & Operations at Surfers Against Sewage

Inspired by the incredible work our charity partner, the environmental organisation Surfers Against Sewage do we are launching a series of interviews with people who have used surfing as a platform to make a positive impact within their communities. 

To kick off our ’Changemakers’ series we chatted to Pete Lewis – Director of Fundraising & Operations of Surfers Against Sewage about why families need to stop using single use plastic and eight simple ways they can make a difference. 

Pete Lewis – Director of Fundraising & Operations At Surfers Against Sewage

Plastic is everywhere – is all plastic bad?

The short answer is no! Plastic is an incredibly useful material and used properly it has significant benefits. Our work is not about removing all plastic from our lives. It’s about kicking our addiction to avoidable single-use plastic, and changing the system that produces it.

What are the effects of single-use plastic on our oceans and how will that impact generations to come?

Plastic pollution is devastating our oceans and there are many impacts as a result of this. The sheer quantity is choking our oceans, Sir David Attenborough told us during Blue Planet 2 that “we dump eight million tonnes of plastic into the sea every year”. It’s killing and harming marine life.

  • Turtles eat plastic bags mistaking them for jellyfish
  • Seabirds are found with their stomachs full of plastic items
  • Plastic debris can get lodged in coral and affect the health of reefs
  • Microplastics are consumed by animals like plankton, passing the problem back up the food chain – to us.

Plastic is found in the deepest reaches of the ocean, and even in remote Arctic sea ice. It’s a sobering example of our footprint on Earth.

The impact on future generations is scary. Imagine oceans with no marine life, or oceans and beaches that people can no longer enjoy because they are literally choked up with plastic pollution. 

Pete’s Daughter, Isla, On A Beach Clean

The Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, recently praised one of the schools involved in your Plastic Free Schools campaign – tell us about how children can get their schools involved?

It’s really easy to get involved with our Plastic Free Schools program, just follow the steps below! 

  • Get a teacher or other member of school staff to sign up for the Plastic Free Schools programme on the SAS website sas.or.uk/plastic-free-schools
  • We’ll send your school a Plastic Free Schools pack, which will contain everything you need; from the objectives you’ll follow, to all the equipment required for a clean-up at your school.
  • Get to work! Complete the objectives and start making some changes.
  • Send in your evidence to us at education@sas.org.uk so that we can sign you off with your Plastic Free Schools Status.
  • Keep it going! Spread the word and keep looking for things you can change to make an even bigger difference.

At home what can families do to stop their reliance on single-use plastic?

Below are 8 simple ways to reduce your plastic use at home! 

  1. Carry a reusable bottle.
  2. Say no to plastic straws.
  3. Avoid excessive food packaging.
  4. Use refill stations for detergents.
  5. Say no to disposable cutlery.
  6. Get your milk delivered.
  7. Carry a shopping bag.
  8. Avoid microbeads (Microbeads are tiny beads of plastic used in many beauty and skincare products.  Although the UK banned use of microbeads in some products such as exfoliators there are many that still contain them. For more information this article is useful – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-42621388 )

It must have been so exciting when Meghan Markle and Prince Harry chose Surfers Against Sewage as one of the seven charities to make donations to during the Royal Wedding.  Did anyone from Surfers Against Sewage meet the couple?

We were delighted to be selected as one of the seven charities to benefit from the donations marking the Royal Wedding Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle. The couple selected issues that they were passionate about which is a huge testament and amazing recognition of our volunteers and supporters who work tirelessly to protect oceans and beaches for the benefit of everyone. No one from SAS has met the couple together …..yet!

Finally – are there any plans for Surfers Against Sewage during 2019 you want to tell us about?

We’ve got exciting plans for 2019 that will build on all areas of our work. There are lots of ways for people to get involved in our work to, see below for some ideas!

Visit www.sas.org.uk for wider campaigns on water quality, climate change and plastic pollution.

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