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Although an annual Earth Day has been celebrated since 1970, it was originally a celebration of world peace, and over the decades its meaning has shifted to focus on protecting the environment. While it is always important to be environmentally conscious, this holiday serves as another reminder that our resources are precious and limited, and that it is up to us to protect our beautiful planet. As surfers, we have a special connection to the earth, and it definitely breaks my heart to see plastics floating around in the oceans. During the time I’ve been living in Australia, I have noticed that there are a good amount of anti-littering and pro-recycling PSAs, and that people are extremely thoughtful of their environmental footprints. Of course, eco-friendliness is also prevalent in California, but there are some Australian trends and products that I would love to see take off in the states! In honor of Earth Day, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite gadgets and activities that help Mother Earth keep doing her thing.
- Reusable Water Bottles
- Walking / Biking
I know that I am guilty of getting in my car and driving to somewhere like the store that’s 3 blocks away, or the beach that’s down the hill, so I personally have tried to become more conscious of this. Walking and biking are good for both you and the planet, so it’s never a bad idea to embrace motorless transportation. I’ve noticed that a lot of cafes and restaurants here have started giving incentives if you show up on your bike, like 10% off your meal or a “biker’s club” stamp card leading up to a free drink. Even if there is no prize, walking or biking makes an outing much more fun!
- BYO Coffee Cups
While the to-go thermos is not a new concept, lately in Australia there has been a rise in the use of reusable latte sized coffee cups. There is a brand called KeepCup, who’s name has become sort of the Kleenex of coffee cups, if you will. Even if the cup is made by another manufacturer, it will still be referred to as a KeepCup, which is exactly what happened with Thermos brand until eventually they lost their copyright. They’re relatively simple, made of either glass or ceramic, and have the same type of lid that one would see on a traditional coffee thermos. The cool thing is, however, that just like with the walk/bike incentives, a lot of cafes offer discounts for those who bring their own cups or mugs. Apparently, paper coffee cups are difficult to recycle, so bringing your own cup can make a huge difference.
- Beeswax Food Wraps
This was something I’d never seen before I came to Australia. Popping up in shops all over are reusable food wraps made of beeswax, serving as a replacement for plastic cling wrap. They can be used to wrap up sandwiches, fruits and veggies, and more, and can be reused over and over again! I really hadn’t even considered how wasteful plastic wrap can be, but now that I’ve become more aware of it, these beeswax wraps make so much sense!
- Beach Cleanups
Last but not least, I had to throw in the beach cleanup reminder. This is one of the easiest ways to do your part and can become a natural part of your everyday surf routine. Organized beach cleanups rock because they get people working together to really clear out whole beaches of any trash, but it's also awesome to just grab a couple pieces of plastic or some cigarette butts from the sand on your way in from a morning surf. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but if everyone picked up a few pieces of garbage every time they went to the beach, we would see noticeable changes!
In addition to these five trends I’ve seen in Australia, there are countless other ways to play a part in the fight to save our planet. A large number of apparel brands have started making their products with recycled materials, and shopping at second-hand stores prevents clothing from just being thrown out and sent to landfills. Bringing reusable shopping bags, avoiding disposable cutlery, and skipping straws (or using stainless steel ones) are also easy ways to use less plastic and reduce your footprint. As far as I know, there isn’t much surf on Mars, so I’d really like our planet to continue to thrive! Happy Earth Day everyone!