Spring cleans

It´s Spring Clean time,  world-wide thousands of people will clean hundreds of beaches, rivers and lakes. Together they´ll remove staggering amounts of plastics from our tide lines, and if you so wish, you can join them!

You can find the information for the world-wide cleans with Surfrider and for the UK with Surfers Against Sewage. Both have great websites where you can locate the nearest one to you.

Surfrider Europe also have also made a video, with the Beach Boys soundtrack. Who doesn´t love the Beach Boys?!

Back in 2009 We were doing one of many independent beach cleans in the January, when a guy from Germany, Ingo, joined in and told me about Surfriders Ocean Initiative. I signed us up and we were on the official map. Which meant we could add our figures to the data Surfrider collects.

Three of us, Ingo, Pedro and myself, held cleans on three different local beaches on one day.


We participated every year after. Keeping an open time window so people could come when it was convenient for them (I couldn´t predict the surf and the clean needed to be arranged in advance)  anywhere in the region of 60-90 people would come over the course of a day. We´d removed so much plastic year after year.

The year that I´d left, my friend Wiebke arranged one, and plans to do another this Spring, after a big swell.

Beach cleans are fantastic. When the weathers nice it´s a morning, afternoon on the beach. It has the “feel good factor”, time out doors moving plastics, walking away seeing how people have made a difference is a warm feeling. Having a tea, or beer with friends after is lovely (We often used it as an excuse to have bit of a party…!)  But there´s a lot more to them that…

Cleaning prevent the plastic returning where it kills. Plastic doesn´t rot, the 100,000s of animals it kills do. Then the plastic goes back on it´s merry way to kill again and again… removing it prevents this from happening. Removing it from a river bank prevents it getting to the ocean in the first place.

In the press this week is the reporting of the Post-Mortem on the 13 stranded North Sea sperm whales finds their stomachs full of plastic. This occurred near the town of Tönning in Schleswig-Holstein (Germany).



Beach cleans educate. People learn about plastic pollution, and the more people who know plastics is in our oceans, and the devastating effect it is having, the more likely they are to make a choice when they are out shopping. Or go on to make other changes, such as Ingo, Pedro, Wiebke and myself.

I had no idea about plastic pollution until I took part in my first clean.

Ingo has since gone on to work with and teach disabled people to make incredible canvas bags. Pedro recently set up One Per Session. A public facebook group which encourage surfers to pick up one piece of plastic after a surf session and document their finds.

Though, from looking at the pictures, it´s not only surfers, and they don´t stop at one piece!

(These are just a few shots from the ever growing collection).

It´s a similar concept to Take 3 a not-for-profit organisation also started by a surfer Tim Silverwood in Australia in 2009 which now has over 15,000 followers on facebook. Small actions, adding up….

So if you fancy getting involved in a clean, here are the details again for Surfrider and Surfers Against Sewage.  Or you may want to pick up One Per Session, where you can add your pictures here. What ever you choose to do….

…Remember; every refusal, and every piece of plastic moved from our water ways – adds up!



Arrifana Surf Lodge recusa o uso de 12,000 garrafas de plástico!

(for English version head here: English version 12,000 bottles)

Em 2008 realizámos uma das primeiras limpezas de praia. Eu achei que seria uma boa ideia lavar todo o plástico e colocar na piscina do Jonny! Agora, passados cerca de seis anos e meio e apesar de achar que este ato foi um pouco louco e gerar uma balbúrdia (que eventualmente acabei por limpar), provou valer a pena…

A minha amiga Sarah, dona do Arrifana Surf Lodge com o seu marido Aldo, passou por nossa casa nessa altura com a sua pequena filha Sierra. Ela olhou para a piscina incrédula.

Existe algo acerca de colocar o plástico a flutuar na água que nos leva a comparar com o plástico que poluí os oceanos. Enquanto segurava a sua filha nos braços, Sarah sentiu que tinha que fazer algo em prol da situação.


A Sarah foi para casa e encomendou um termo. Eles costumavam usar garrafas de água de plástico para dar aos clientes e agora têm dois termos que levam para a praia de forma a manter a água bem fresca e copos reutilizáveis que apesar de serem de plástico vão servir para muitos mais anos. Eles também instalaram um sistema de filtragem de água na torneira.

Até à data, o Arrifana Surf Lodge já recusou cerca de 12 000 garrafas de plástico, sim, 12 000! Como?

Bem, numa semana eram, em média, utilizadas cerca de 50 garrafas de plástico, admitindo que têm cerca de 10 pessoas que surfam diariamente durante 5 dias (claro que na época baixa não têm 10 pessoas todos os dias, mas no verão podem vir a ter cerca de 20 pessoas por dia). Calculei um valor médio, de cerca de 2000 garrafas de plástico por ano! É muito… Depois de 6 temporadas perfaz um total de 12 000 garrafas! É assustador pensar nestes valores! E não foram só recusadas garrafas de plástico, foram também recusados todos os seus plásticos envolventes.

O que a Sarah não mencionou foi o DINHEIRO. A água em Portugal é barata quando se compra somente uma garrafa. Então e se comprarmos 12 000 garrafas? Uma pequena garrafa custa cerca de 19 cêntimos. Se calcularmos 0,19€ vezes 12 000 dá 2 280€. A quantia de 2 280 euros! Mesmo considerando os termos, os copos e o sistema de filtros, eles pouparam estes anos todos cerca de 1 500€ (os termos custaram 50€ cada um e ainda estão bem fortes, depois de todo o trabalho duro na praia durante 6 temporadas e os filtros custam cerca de 100€ por ano).

Assim sendo, o Arrifana Surf Lodge poupou muito dinheiro, assim como também uma grande quantidade de plástico!

E também há o tempo consumido com o processo. Ir ao supermercado, colocar embalagens de água no carrinho, colocá-las no carro, levá-las para dentro de casa. É tudo a somar. E acho que há muitas melhores coisas para se fazerem na vida do que andar a carregar embalagens de água de um lado para o outro. Tenho a certeza que todos concordam comigo!

Foram também recusadas 12 000 tampas de garrafas nestes 6 anos e meio. Isto é um assunto de vida ou morte para as crias de albatroz, das quais cerca de 200 000 morrem todos os anos na Ilha de Midway no Pacífico, sendo as tampas de garrafa de plástico uma característica comum a todos os animais mortos.

photo Chris Jordon
photo Chris Jordon

As escolas de surf trabalham diretamente com o oceano. Os oceanos fazem parte do seu trabalho e do seu sustento. Colocando agora as crias de albatroz de lado, quem quer ir de férias e surfar ondas cheias de plástico? Imaginem 12 000 garrafas de plástico pelas praias. Não é uma coisa bonita de se ver!

Eu fotografei para escolas de surf durante alguns anos, inclusivamente para a Arrifana Surf Lodge. Plásticos desaguavam aos meus pés quase diariamente. Se a proporção de consumo de plástico continua assim, quando a pequena Sierra tiver a minha idade, quem sabe como se encontrarão os oceanos? Nos seus sete anos de vida, a poluição dos oceanos aumentou dramaticamente.

Mas nós PODEMOS mudar esta maré de poluição de plástico por simplesmente recusar o seu uso. Mesmo que comecemos somente por recusar um produto, como o Arrifana Surf Lodge fez. Depois será mais fácil mudar outras coisas, quando tudo se tornar um hábito. Uma das coisas frustrantes (uma, mas sim, há mais!) sobre a recusa de plástico é que parece fútil à primeira, mas como mostrámos anteriormente, NÃO É!!! E está longe disso!

Lembrem-se sempre, cada recusa acrescenta algo. E este é um número que o Arrifana Surf Lodge se deve certamente orgulhar!

Photography Cassar Photography ©

Obrigado Claudia para tomar o momento de traduzir para mim, mais uma vez!

Arrifana Surf Lodge refuses 12,000 single use plastic bottles!

It was on one of our first beach cleans in 2008.  I thought it was a good idea, to take all the plastic we collected, wash it, and dump the lot in Jonny´s swimming pool!

Fast forward six and a half years, and yes, while it might have been a bit mad and made a mess (which I did eventually clean up) it´s proved to be an extremely worthwhile exercise…

(Versão em Português aqui)

Sarah, a friend who owns and runs Arrifana Surf Lodge with her husband Aldo, dropped by with their new daughter Sierra. Sarah looked at the pool in dis-belief.

There was something about seeing the plastic floating in water that put it in to context at what´s happening out in the ocean. Holding her tiny baby in her arms, Sarah felt compelled to do something.

Sarah went home and ordered a water cooler for their guests on the beach. Previously they´d been giving their guests bottles of water in single use plastic – SUPs.

They now have two coolers and reusable cups. Which yes, are made from plastic (that´s all Sarah could find at the time) but they have already been going six seasons, and they will be usable for many years to come.  They also had a water filter system fitted to their tap.

In this time, Arrifana Surf Lodge have refused around 12,000 single use plastic bottles. Yes 12,000!!  How?

Well in a week we would probably have to provide around 50 bottles of water for clients. (an average) That figure is worked out if we have 10 people surfing everyday for 5 days. Obviously out of season we don’t always have 10 but in the Summer we can have up to 20 surfing. So in a year I would say 2000 plastic bottles!! GEEEEZZ that’s a lot!! Over 6 years 12,000 bottles! Scary to think about it like that!!

It´s not just the plastic bottles, but the plastic that wraps them they´ve refused.

What Sarah hasn´t mentioned is the MONEY. Water in Portugal is cheap, when you buy a bottle. What about when you buy 12,000 bottles?  A small bottles like this is around 19 cents. Still, 19 cents times 12,000 is 2,280.  That is 2, 280 Euros!  Even taking the coolers, cups, and water filtration into account, they have still saved around €1,500!!  ( the coolers were €50 each, they are still going strong, even after working hard on the beach every day for six seasons. The filter works out €100 a year)

Arrifana Surf Lodge have saved as much money, as they have plastic!

Then there´s the time. Time putting water in a trolly, time getting it out to the car. Time walking it in to the house. It all adds up. There´s better things to do in life than carry water bottles around, I´m sure you´ll agree!

12,000 bottle tops refused. That is a matter of life… or death to Albatross chicks, where in the region of 200,000 chicks die ever year on Midway Island out in the Pacific, bottles tops being an all to common feature in the dead chicks.

Surf Schools work directly with the oceans. The oceans are their livelihood. Albatross chicks asides, who wants to go on holiday and surf in waves full of plastic?  Imagine 12,000 bottles laying on the beach…. Not a pretty sight!

I shot for Surf Schools for a number of years, including Arrifana Surf Lodge. Plastic would wash up at my feet as a daily occurrence.  If our rate of plastic consumptions continues like it is, by the time little Sierra is my age, who knows what the oceans will look like?  In her short seven years, plastic pollution in the oceans has risen dramatically.

But we CAN change the tide of plastic pollution,  by refusing single use plastics. Even if you start with just one product as Arrifana Surf Lodge has. Then it can be easier to change other things, once that´s a habit. One of the frustrating things (one, yes there are a few!) about refusing single use plastic is it often feels futile, but as this clearly shows, over time – it´s NOT.  Far from it!

Remember, every refusal adds up.  This is a number of refusals Arrifana Surf Lodge should be proud of! 

Photography  by Cassar Photography  ©