Our intern Christie volunteers for Surfers Against Sewage, here she tells us what that involves and how you can take part too.
Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is an organisation started by a group of Cornish surfers almost 30 years ago as a national campaign to improve water quality. Since then it has expanded to become a national marine conservation charity focusing on protecting waves, oceans, beaches, marine wildlife and coastal communities. Currently, the organisation’s main focus is marine plastic pollution, but they also work in many other areas from mitigating climate change to designating natural surf breaks as heritage sites.
I first joined SAS after hearing about an autumn beach clean they were running at a local beach in my hometown and decided to volunteer as a cleaner. At first glance there was barely any litter on the stretch of beach but within minutes of raking just a few centimetres under the sand, the volunteers turned up swathes of rubbish that was choking the beach and sea. Each beach clean often removes several kilograms of litter, most of it made up of disposable plastic items such as bottles, packets and cutlery, as well as lots of discarded nylon fishing gear.
As someone who has grown up surfing and living right beside the ocean, I continually see first-hand just how important the ocean and beaches are to people and the planet. Since I first came across SAS almost 8 years ago, I’ve taken part in beach cleans all over the South Coast and Cornwall and I now organise several myself as a beach clean leader. The organisation has expanded hugely since 2012 and now has a nationwide network of regional reps made up of volunteers from all over the UK. Regional reps are the first point of contact for all campaigns and work in leading beach cleans, giving educational talks to local schools and communities, connecting with local councils and MPs, highlighting regional issues and promoting SAS’s national campaigns and initiatives.
The latest waste-reduction initiative, plastic free communities, has had over 300 towns pledge to cut their plastic waste and, as autumn comes along, there will be beach cleans all over the UK in need of passionate volunteers – it’s fun and easy to take part!