Ocean Pledge helps us to take our responsibility as consumers.
When Diony Lalieu was competing in a surfing competition, she saw truckloads of plastic water bottles being distributed to the crowd. And she thought: “what a contradiction: as surfers, we all love the ocean, but at the same time we’re polluting it!”
It was right there and then that she pledged to never again use a plastic water bottle.
“I noticed that this simple pledge made me more conscious of my behaviour. It was like switching on a light bulb: I started to become aware of all the problematic plastic around me. Like ice-cream scoops, plastic bags, ear buds. My small commitment resulted in a huge change in my habits.”
Everyone can choose their own pledge. “Some people pledge to use bar soap instead of products in plastic containers, or to make their own toothpaste, or to avoid plastic packets, straws, or balloons. Others pledge to always pick up 3 pieces of plastic whenever they go to the beach – and all these actions collectively make an impact.”
Setting realistic goals
Diony believes that change in behaviour must be achievable and realistic. “Some people think: what difference does a plastic straw make? But ever since people have started to refuse plastic straws, there are much fewer straws reported in beach cleanups!”
“It is also important that we inform ourselves. Sometimes you may think that you are making a difference, for example by using ‘biodegradable plastics’ or ‘compostable plastics’. But these materials still need an industrial process to be decomposed – and we don’t have those facilities in South Africa! So they end up in the environment, where they’re almost as harmful as normal plastics. Remember: if it looks like plastic, it will probably behave like plastic.”
In only a few years, Ocean Pledge has made remarkable progress. More than five hundred people have signed their #OceanPledge. Corporates and restaurants are coming on board. And the school program teaches learners about the impact of plastic – and what they can do to change their behaviour.
"Our survey shows a high success rate of people keeping their pledges. It proves that we are in charge of our own conscience and behaviour"
A next milestone of success was when Ocean Pledge convinced the organisers of the 2018 SA Long Boarding Championships to make the entire tournament free of single-use plastics. “Out of that experience, we created guidelines for even organisers, vendors, and sponsors. Other events are now starting to use our guidelines too.”
Next, Diony started the Ocean Pledge Restaurant program. "We are creating a network of restaurants who protect the oceans by moving away from problematic plastics. They also make a simple pledge: no plastic straws, no polystyrene, no plastic takeaway cutlery, no plastic packets, and no individually wrapped sweets at the end of the meal.”
Again: simple pledges that change behaviour, while making a positive impact on the health of our oceans.
“To live in a #ZeroWaste world, it is important that we use much less material, and especially no problematic or unnecessary plastics. We must all work together, everyone can do their part. As consumers, we must make conscious changes. We are not separate from nature, we are part of nature. We must treat nature and ourselves with respect.”
Now it's your turn!
And don't forget to let us know in the comments below how that works for you!