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  ©


When canvas bags double up as a hankie!

I found this, I wrote it when I was in Singapore. I thought I´d share it with you…

I´ve been living PALL 6 years & I can honestly say this is the first (& I hope the last) time this ever happens.

I´m new to Singapore and was visiting the city area to go to a photography exhibition, when I stumbled across a genuine India restaurant. (stumbled being the appropriate word, as I have a foot injury so barely walked in months.)

I joined the que of Indians and was the only female in the place, but I got use to that when I recently traveled in India.

I chose what I thought was a potato & bean curry. I sat at the front far away from the counter as possible to watch the rain.

I full heartedly tucked in. Those beans were chills, really fucking hot chilies!!! My eyes were streaming, my nose was running I was burning up. I wanted to get a tissue but that meant going to the front, passing the que of staring men. I rummaged around my bag, no tissues… just a canvas bag. I thought about it… but then I did it, I blew my streaming nose on my canvas bag.

Pretty gross! But I was glad I had it, if I hadn´t had a bag I might have ended up blowing it on my hand bag. Luckily I didn´t shop that day and put it in the wash when I got back.

I think it´s time to get a hankie. I also need to learn the difference between beans and chilies.

Take away in a Tiffin

Oh the luxury of a take away. It’s been a very long time since I’ve lived near any take aways. So they didn’t really cross my mind. Except of course on a hangover day, where we’d dream long and hard of them. Still, there wasn’t any, so dreaming was all we did… hung over. Oh the pain!

When I’m visiting my Sister’s we usually have one. They’re partial to a take away, they have delivery where they are. Indian brought straight to the door. (I guess there’s many others, pizza, Chinese, who knows what else? It’s always been Indian for us.) Indian, to the door. Who can argue?

Except, oh the plastic that goes with takeaway and delivery’s. Sometimes they are still delivered in metal trays, but often now the whole meal can be in small plastic trays. Which yes can be used again, but all those millions of plastic trays going out over the whole country, the world constantly… Even the metal tray ones have pickles in plastic, breads in plastic, and then of course the whole lot is put in a plastic bag (normally over a paper bag).

So imagine how pleased I was on my third day of arriving in Bristol, having that hung over Indian takeaway feeling… to discover I can get one a few minutes walk away in a metal tiffin!

For you who are not aware what a tiffin is it’s a kind of lunch box used widely in India for tiffin meals for over 100 years. Yes over 100 years! It´s not a new concept. In Mumbai, tiffins are used to provide the invaluable daily service of speedily delivering piping hot home-cooked lunches to more than 200,000 busy office workers. 200,00 a day. That´s a staggering amount. Tiffin´s work!

Normally they come in two or three tiers, although more elaborate versions can have four. The bottom-most tier, being the largest, is the one usually used for rice. Tiffin carriers are opened by unlocking a small catch on either side of the handle.

The Thali, Café had the bright idea of a tiffin take away in 2000. That’s 15 years ago, that’s a lot of take aways!

Imagine the heaps of plastic the restaurant – now restaurant’s – must have saved in that time?  Incredible amounts of plastic pollution prevented. That’s my kinda place!

Thali Café call it: The Tiffin Revolution.

You take along your tiffin and they fill it with the delicious meal of your choice. Tried and tested, they are very tasty! (I’m a few minutes walk away, I don’t need to think about delivery, that would be taking lazy to another extreme!) They do a lovely Chai, which is what I’ve had when I wait (yes twice, even though I’ve been here just over a week..)

Opens into little dishes
Opens into little dishes

The first time it costs £27.50 and comes filled with your favourite Thali. After that they are £8.50 to refill.

I can hear the groans about the expense. (You can buy them a couple of doors up from the one in Easton for just £8.00).  Money wise is give and take when Being PALL. I’d of probably spent £8 in a month, just on bottled water alone. So £8.00 for something that’s going to last forever, can be shared with friends and have countless Indian take aways in with no plastic footprint, for me, is well and truly justified. I´m not buying one as it´s daft having two in the house, otherwise I would.

The downside of the Thali restaurant is the lack of vegetarian options. I can’t see me wanting to eat the same two meals time and time again. So I’m also going to try other local restaurants and see if they’ll fill it… I’ll let you know. Hopefully not to soon, to many takeaways is probably not a good idea for my waistline, and my wallet!

It’s such a simple and effect idea. Maybe if you’re a regular of an Indian take away chat to them, the more joining the Tiffin Revolution the more plastic pollution we can prevent. Hopefully they´ll be pleased to have their tiffing tradition being appreciated and used here, as much as their food is loved and appreciated!

Good on Thali Café for bringing this concept to Bristol. I’m pleased as punch to be living so close and to be able to be part of it the Tiffin Revolution.  Hang overs will be slightly easier from now on… I hope!

Every refusal adds up. Happy Indian take aways. Happy Tiffins!