The sun comes out; everyone goes to the beach. Fair enough, us Brits make the most of every scrap of UV goodness we can get. Social distancing has actually been in the gutter for the last few weeks; I think we can all agree on that. It's now just fewer handshakes and hugs.
But the images we’ve seen of Britain’s beautiful beaches looking like a feral cesspit during this week’s heatwave have made me want to hide under my bed and pretend the world doesn’t exist.
And then, even more infuriatingly, my best mates at Surfers Against Sewage squeezed out some absolute garbage on their social media (or should I say ‘sewage’) listing the companies with the largest amount of litter on beaches.
If an alien had typed in popular food, drink and take away companies into Google they would have found the same list. SAS are trying to imply these brands should be to blame for all the plastic pollution that’s been piling up as high as Durdle Door.
What should we do then SAS? Boycott them? Never drink Coca Cola again? If we do this, won’t there still be other companies to fill the likes of Coca Cola’s place? Just like if you kill a drug dealer in the hood, another one will rise. (We don’t actually live in the hood, we just watch a lot of films.)
We live in a world of blame culture and shafting guilt over to someone else’s responsibility. But it’s our responsibility to make sure our shit doesn’t end up on our beaches. Coca Cola aren’t going to clean it up.
So, I did my own quick google.
How many drinks do Coca Cola sell a day? 1.9 billion.
In the interest of fairness, I divided that by the 206 sovereign states of the world.
It’s just over 9 million. A day. Per country. Averaged out. NZ has 5 million people living there and the UK has 67 million so we can assume (based on simple maths) the UK is doing more than 9Mil on a daily basis.
That’s a lot of Coke.
SAS are suggesting that a few people stamping their feet and demanding a boycott of Coca Cola along with 12 other big brands will cause them to change their ways. Can you really see that happening?
What I can see happening is that a lot of people already care about this problem; about beaches and the ocean. So rather than tell 100% of people to boycott a product/business/company, we, 'the majority of people’ (say 90%) should try and help the remaining 10% of people understand that littering isn’t an acceptable thing to do.
Throwing rubbish on the ground should generate the same reaction as if you saw someone kicking a dog, punching an old lady in the face, or getting their wang out (in public). You wouldn’t just stand and watch - you would say something, because its unacceptable behaviour.
Littering is unacceptable behaviour.
This is where the real difference can be made by the every-day good person; by focusing on changing our attitudes and subsequent actions. Not by shifting the blame to big corporations we can’t control. Screaming “boycott” and “even small people can make a change” just won’t actually make a difference.
We must be proactive and spend our energy doing something useful. Work smart and hard. Most people don’t litter, we are 90% of the way there already, but that 10% who do are making us a global embarrassment.
I have been criticised in the past for being incredibly blunt and savage toward SAS, but what is their message?
Are they surfers? I hope not; that would put me in the same bracket. On their website they claim (on their main banner, just before some terrible grammar) to be “the voice of the ocean”. What does that mean? They want you to donate and sign petitions, but can you name me an online petition in history that has ever changed the world?
I struggle to understand their message. Perhaps with some focus they might be able to utilise their massive reach to effect some actual change towards littering, rather than just putting lazy posts up about how Coca Cola are the villains.
At Turtle Straws our message has always been bloody direct; small, simple, sustainable changes are going to make our world a better place.
We help people wade through the quagmire of jargon that is waste reduction. We also bang on about how good our straws are. To be fair we have supplied a few of them. Link to amazon
When it comes to reducing waste on our beaches, the simple change is so simple: we need to stop leaving our shit behind.
Finally a call to action, because this is what I want you to do; share this post and get in front of the people at Surfers Against Sewage so they realise that people will back them if they were more direct with their message.