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  ©


Ponderings from Portugal

After five months in Singapore I headed straight back to Portugal.

Getting out of the plane, late morning in Lisbon, I was struck by the freshness of the air.  On the metro from the airport, a guy playing the accordion strolled up the train with a dog on his shoulder, as the metro lifted into the morning sun, I was greeted by the sight of old men working their allotments.  A five hours bus ride later, and nearly 30 hours in total, I arrived into the small village of Aljezur.  I was home.

That evening my friend had cooked, we hangout, it was great to be back.  In the evening the freshness had turned to bitter cold! I had four blankets, a hot water bottle at the ready, a house to myself, I went for a sleep-athon.

The following morning all I could see was fog. As the sun warmed and the fog lifted, I was greeted by the sight of the valley towards Monchique. I was blown away by the beauty of the place. The vastness, the vivid green, the spring flowers, the rolling hills with locals below working with their donkeys.

When you´re somewhere all the time it can be hard to see. Never had the place looked and felt so beautiful.

If you´ve been following my blog, you´ll know how it was Portugal´s beaches, Aljezur´s in particular, that taught me about plastic pollution.  I would work on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with plastic pollution constantly washing up around my feet…

I didn´t blog while I was there, as this time was just a short visit. I barely opened my laptop. I was staying at Analogue Apartments, what use to be my old house but now´s much cosier!  It was lovely to be in Portugal and unplug for a couple of weeks.  I´ve left now, but this is a few things I wanted to talk about.

  • Is it possible to have a cuppa tea with out plastic in Portugal?
  • It was fantastic to attend a big beach clean, rather than arranging one!
  • Plastic bag fee came in a month ago, and it´s working!

I like a cuppa tea. It has to be said. Having been away so long I was meeting friends, I was using a café wi-fi to briefly log in. (In the hope I could quickly log out!)  I was surfing and going to café´s before and after. I was in relaxed mode, what better way is there in Portugal?

After the first couple of cups I noticed a pattern. My tea bags always came single used wrapped in a mini plastic bag?  I thought it was a coincidence, but no. Friend´s, who have just opened a restaurant told me how they are not allowed, by law, to have loose tea. They have to all be individually wrapped – in plastic – or they´ll get fined. Crazy. Especially when you consider Portugal have brought in a fee for plastic bags.  If I were staying I may have researched more, instead I put some T bags in my bag, ordered hot water and left a good tip. That´s the only way I could see around a law, that in my humble opinion, is daft!

 Beach cleaning

I arranged many beach cleans while I was in Portugal. The first big one was for the Surfrider Ocean Initiatives in 2009, I went on to do it every year after.  Often there would be anywhere up to 70 people come along during the course of the day.

I never actually got to go down to the beach much during these cleans! Instead I was in the car park for hours on end, chatting to people and educating them about plastic pollution.

As much as I enjoyed that, this year attending a beach clean my friend arranged made a nice change. I got to stroll on the beach in the afternoon sun.  Even though they´d been going a couple of hours when I arrived, I also got to see just how much plastic there was on the beach. I wasn´t surprised, it´s always there, but it´s good to be reminded why I keep going.

My friend who arranged this one did it with a student as part of her studies.  She understands and was explaining to me; Cleaning is good, but educating is just as important.

Beach cleaning, yes it´s fantastic, it moves plastic pollution from the tide line and stops it washing back out to sea to be eaten by marine animals, but…

…if all we do is clean, clean is all we´ll ever do.

We need to educate, to educate prevention. During the clean my friend´s husband had an idea, that alone could save 100s of plastic bottles over a season. (and the tops, and the plastic that wraps the plastic bottles.)

I´m not gunna say what it is after the T bag law!  Lets just say, it´s a great idea, and makes this beach clean even more worthwhile.

After an hour and a half’s stroll on the beach, and collecting a bucket of plastic, I headed back up for a chat and then headed home. I left them with a huge and growing pile of plastic on the car park floor to clean up.  I felt bad, but it didn´t last long. This was my time to really experience what is was to attend a beach clean, and I have to say, it´s a lovely and feel good afternoon on the beach with friends!

I´m grateful my friend is carrying the torch, otherwise Monte Clerigo would be a sorry sight, and a heap of plastic would have washed back into the ocean, where it could be ingested by marine animals…

(I only had my little camera and that ran out of battery while I was there, or I´d of taken more pictures of the posters etc. I was still in relaxed mode!)

Portugal introduces a plastic bag tax of 10 cents, a month ago.

When you think you can get a bottle of wine for €1.90, ten cents is actually quite a bit of money.  I didn´t do masses of research, I´ll be honest. I used the one shop I always use and that was pretty much the only one the whole time I was there. On talking to the lady in the shop, that one shop is using “muito menos” – a lot less plastic bags. It was noticeable, I saw many people with reusable bags and that was what go me wondering what was going on.

I´m reading the money, tax, is going to support nature conservation projects. Lets hope that is the case!  Of course people aren´t happy about it, one manufacturer is saying he´ll double his exports instead… We can only hope more countries join Portugal and they don´t find a market for them.

Produce bags are still being used, as are bread bags, bin bags and all the other types of plastic bags, but still, this is a fantastic start!

Good on Portugal for leading the way!

It was amazing to be back in that beautiful place. Now I have another adventure planned… but I shall be visiting Portugal again soon.

Partying PALL – Plastic A Lot Less

We’ve just had New Year, so maybe I should post this in a month or two, when people have given up the fitness kick and wanna go out again.  Though in the Southern Hemisphere it´s Summer, so party time!

When I look at other blogs sometimes I get the impression people are perfect and live pintrest wholesome lives. Well I’m not and I don’t.  This is a subject close to my heart, I like going out & partying, I love a good boogie. OK, currently I’m not partying like in the past, I’m not and never have been as hardcore as I’d like to be, but that’s not to say the “feral party chick” (as myself and a couple of other friend were once known…) has gone forever.

So can you party AND PALL?  Yes you can. I’ve done it, many a time over the last six years. Remembering we’re talking PALL-ing  Plastic A Lot Less. Not plastic free here (though that’s possible).

I totally understand when you’re letting your hair down plastic in the oceans isn’t the first thing on your mind, but partying is enjoyed by a lot of us, that’s a lot of plastic. Every day I went on the beach in Portugal I´d see plastic cups that had washed up.

If you’ve thought of it before you’ve left the house, you can just get on with it while you’re out. You remember your keys, you remember your phone, your lippy, you can remember a couple of others things and after a few times it becomes habit.

(OK, if you’re at the age/stage where even standing up and remembering your name is a problem when you’re out, then forget it, but if you can do that then you can manage.)

You may be the only one not drinking or eating from plastic, I have been many a time, not always, but a lot. I can handle being the odd one out and not following the crowd. The apologies from friends at one point did (after 4 years!) get a bit much. Though it was after that I talked with Arrifana Restaurant and they commissioned the mugs in the header picture, Saving 5000-6000 single use plastic cups, every year!  No plastic cups, also means no apologies! Had friends taken mugs along and not apologised to me a thousand times I might not have spoken with them, so it was worth it in the end!

Depending on where you’re going or what you’re doing means you need to consider different things:

  • If you´re going out, or out out. 
  • If there’s food involved
  • A festival, for the day or weekend
  • House party as a guest or a host

I´ll discuss them all here so scroll down & hopefully you´ll find what you´re looking for. Let me know in the comments what you do to PALL – Plastic A Lot Less – your partying!

A night out on the town is pretty simple

  • Request your drinks without straws. Easy.  Do straws add up to that much? Yes they do, or they wouldn’t wash up with every tide.
  • If you´re getting a cocktail that you feel needs a straw to stir, a caipirinha for example, ask for a spoon instead. It´s the stirring you need, not the sucking.
  • Take a small bottle of water with you, alternatively ask for tap water at the bar, in a glass or a mug if they have a coffee machine.
  • Food at the end of the night, depending what takes your fancy, all though most chippies have now opted for polystyrene most still have paper too. Ask for your food to be in that, rather than a clam shell for every portion of chips. If you’re a burger type of person, again ask for paper.
  • If you go to a fast food outlet and you need a drink, get the drink without the lid or the straw.

Local festival where there’s food involved.

There are loads of these in Portugal. Every week in Summer is one festival or another. Be it the festival of the sweet potato, the sweetcorn or the chestnut. I love these festivals, where every one turns up and hangs out together, but boy is there some plastic involved. They are literally drowning in SUPs – single use plastics.  When there’s food involved and there’s no fixed bar I admit it takes more effort, but these efforts really add up.

Lets not forget also, eating and drinking from single use plastic, is not only polluting, it’s horrible to eat and drink from!

  • Firstly, you need something to drink from. A metal mug works great as it’s light and won’t break when you drop it. (not saying you’ll drop it, but you never know). Try if you can to get one with an official measure so it doesn’t look as if your only reason to use it is to blag more booze. If you can’t, just explain you don’t need it full to the top, just what they’d usually pour. Be aware – they may use a plastic cup as a measure, which they’ll then throw straight in the bin, so be nice, you’re really not on the blag you just don’t want plastic. (You’ll find you often do end up with more booze, after the first one, Brucie bonus!)
  • Eating – Plates, knives & forks. This helps if you’re a woman and don’t mind carrying a huge handbag about. Alternatively put them in a canvas bag. Don’t take your Nan’s best china. Stock up at the charity shop, you can pick up plates and cutlery for nothing, then if you do forget them it’s not the end of the world. If you’re not worried about losing them, if and when you lose you mind, consider some nice metal camping style ones.
  • Water – take your water bottle filled up with you.Or if there´s a tap, drink from that.

The Medieval Festival in Silves in Portugal is a festival like no other, here it´s all beautiful terracotta!



When was the last time I camped at a festival (without the luxury of a camper?)  I do remember, it was a very long time ago! Maybe I’m not currently the best person to talk about festivaling, but in the past this is what I´ve done.

(the above pictures are thanks to Liz. Who remembered to take a camera and used it!)

  •  I would – like I have in the past at festivals take my mug. If I was staying a few days, I’d take a few… just in case I lost them ( I find them at bootsales & charity shops).
  • Water. This time I would leave my Klean Kanteen at home (I lost a Klean Kanteen at a festival once, which was annoying as it was both a present and expensive.) Next time I learnt and sourced a cheaper water bottle.
  • I struggled at at the last festival I went to to get in with my metal bottle, as it was metal. I explained why I had it, still they wasn’t having any it. So I  – politely, but firmly asked to speak to who was ever in charge at the gate. I can’t remember exactly, I was probably already a bit squiffy, but then they let me in. It helped being nice, I had it for a reason, which I explained (The festival was very close to the Atlantic) they did recognize that once I was willing to take it further and not just give in.
  • Water costs a fortune at festivals, the extra 5 minutes at the gate was worth saving the money and also, time queuing for water once in.
  • I opted to eat at stalls with no packaging, or ate things that I could hold. I ask for paper. Maybe even take newspaper or paper bags with you, they’re light enough.
  • I always have a stash of almonds with me, generally where ever I go as well.
  • If I was going to camp, with out a camper next time I would try to find one of those huge metal water drums and take that with me (the one we used in the camper was glass). I’m not sure to be honest what else I’d do. Beth Terry of My Plastic Free Life does an amazing job at The Burning Man festival, so obviously it can be done!  This is what she does here:  My Plastic Free Life. Burning Man Festival, part 1.

House Parties – As A guest

House parties are a difficult one. You don’t want to be rude. Generally over the last few years house parties I’ve gone to I’ve known the people so it’s easy. They know me, if I get a plate out of the cupboard people are used to that. Also some friends have stopped using Single Use Plastics – SUPs at parties :-).

Recently though I went to a party of someone I didn´t know, being taken by a friend of a friend who I also didn´t know. It was in Cambodia, I have posted about the plastic in Cambodia here. Traveling PALL I noticed it was all single use plastic so, when the guy asked me what cocktail I wanted I offered to help. Once in the kitchen I asked for a ´bigger´ cup. No one can argue with bigger! (Personally I don´t think it´s rude to ask for a bigger cup, it makes perfect sense).  We had a laugh while making cocktails, so it also worked out a good way to get to know my host.

When the food came round it was a meat chilli (I had been warned & eaten before I went) had it been veggie, I probably would have asked – nicely for a normal plate, and made sure I´d washed it up. If not I would have re-used a friends after they´d finished, saving one set from being used at least. There was cheesecake going around, (I forgot about the eggs in cheesecake, whoops) & just ate off my hands. I´d eaten it within 30 seconds, so really didn´t need a plate or fork of any kind.

House party – as a host

Back in the day myself and house mates hosted quite a number of big house parties, they were SUPs affairs, I wasn´t to know then. It´s obvious isn´t it, who wants to wash up after a house party?  The last one I held, I did!  Now I´d rather a bit (OK, a lot) of washing up and mess rather than sending bags of SUPs cups, plates and crockery to landfill/the ocean.  I just had to have a re-think of what to do., I talk about it under the pictures. It was a fantastic party, as well as being PALL!
(I wasn´t blogging at the time so didn´t record any of the PALL efforts.)

  • The cups. I borrowed a load of glasses from a friend, who´d recently had a 40th & also didn´t use SUP cups (we are adults, who wants to drink out of crappy cups anyway?)
  • (I made sure there was a dustpan and brush close by, just in case.)
  • I simply didn´t buy or provide any straws.
  • Plates I asked every one to bring a bottle AND 2 plates, one with food, one without. (I have to say for this party people went all out & the food was lovely!)
  • Cutlery. For some reason the owners of the house left enough for a party 4 times the size. If not, I´d have borrowed some or picked some up at a bootsale or charity shop.
  • I borrowed fairy lights and decorations.
  • I bought vodka that had metal lids.( Thankfully they also didn´t have the plastic pourer thing inside, but that was more luck than judgement, you’re never to know who´s put them in unless you remember the brand.)
  • I stocked up on fresh strawberries from the local market, in cardboard boxes and froze them in advance (to go with the vodka.)
  • I borrowed a fridge and a freezer a couple of weeks before.
  • I prepped ice, just making it in tubs then smashed some before & some on the night.
  • On the day I made lemonade. I´d never done that before and it was easy & tasty!
  • I got a couple of boxes of oranges (this was in the Algarve) & juiced them.
  • (Naturally, I bought everything using canvas bags or old cardboard boxes.)
  • The real drinks. On the night myself & friends blended the strawberries and mixed with sugar & vodka. The strawberries worked a treat to cover the taste of the cheap vodka, and people loved it and enjoyed themselves!
  • This was a massive FAIL though. I should have blended the strawberries before the actual night. Instead we overworked the blenders, to the point where 2 blew up. Not good on the PALL side of things. I did after manage to replace them secondhand, but still I´d rather not have blown them up in the first place!
  • The cake was one of the most amazing cakes ever made. It also was one of the tastiest, which is not normally the case. (It was made with a friends free range eggs.) Though on the PALL side of things was also a FAIL. Bumma!  The part that wasnt cake (the top) was polystyrene underneath. The girl who made it was lovely, I´m going to send her this & see if she can find another way in future.
  • I offered friends beds and sofas.  They in turn helped me tidy up the next day, and made breakfast!
  • I dusted down the dishwasher that I never used otherwise, and it was pretty busy that day.


Talking to a bar, event or organisers.

Of course taking our own mugs and cups to events over times really adds up, but there is more we can also do: talk to the organizers. I briefly mentioned Arrifana Resturant  at the beginning of this post. Arrifana restaurant now have customised beautiful terracotta mugs. Saving 5000-6000 single use plastic cups, every year!  That´s PALL-ing on a massive scale!


Then there´s the other naughty thing that goes hand in hand with drinking. Assuming my Mum hasn´t got this far down, but just incase, hypothetically speaking what can you do?  Cigarette butts, if you didn´t already know – are plastic.  There´s nothing good to be said about them… we´ve been told a million times before, what more can I say?  In Portugal you can smoke PALL. Look around for tobacco in paper, use cardboard as roach hey presto! A box of matches works too, or possibly a zipper, not sure how you re-fill them though.  (Please note; I’m not suggesting smoking is good or rollies are better for your health.  I’m talking about PALL-ing, this isn’t a post about health tips.)

Let me know how you PALL your partying, I’d love to hear from you!

 Every refusal adds up. Happy partying!! Happy PALL-ing!