"If we can inspire people and make them love the ocean and our planet through surfing and adventure, then we can start a movement that will change the world" - Tim Nunn, The Plastic Project
When it comes to getting involved in saving our oceans and cleaning up our beaches you can take your pick from numerous initiatives, but there are few that show the level of dedication and passsion that The Plastic Project do. We spoke to founder and driving force behind the project, Tim Nunn.
So who are you?
My name is Tim Nunn, I used to be a full time surf photographer and was editor of Wavelength Magazine for in total seven years. During that time I used my travelling wisely and decided to visit some of the remotest coastlines on Earth, with friend Ian Battrick, we got to the remotest parts of Norway, Scotland, Iceland and were lucky enough to get into wilderness Canada as well, as well as all the usual destinations. But over ten years of doing this, I noticed a massive change in the environment, and so the plastic project was born.
The Plastic Project has grown a fair bit in recognition in the last year, but how long have you been working on this?
I'd been going to all these wild places for the last ten years and had the photographic evidence of a worsening problem, from wild Canada to remote Iceland to Perranporth. I felt that science, especially around climate change and pollution wasn't really reaching far beyond the converted and I knew by simply getting up in front of people and showing a slideshow and talking about the adventure and surfing side of things, with a little environmentalism in there, I could get peoples attention and make them realise what was really going on out there. Statistics are easy to ignore, wrongly disproved or in most cases just be numb to, photographic evidence is not. So basically I wanted to raise money to be able to take this slide show and short films to schools, clubs, festivals anyone who would have me, and with the help of a few select brands and friends I have been able to do it. It all goes to getting to talks and schools, all the travel is either self funded or I sell shots to mags to help subsidise it. It's been really, really hard to make ends meet but I think now I've talked to around 16,000 people, which may not sound much in a social media world, but you're talking to people who more often than not have no clue about what's really going on, whilst social media and the like can often just be preaching to the converted all the time.
What do mean by that, 'preaching to the converted'?
I love social media and the way it allows us to connect to the planet, it's amazing, but I feel that you end up for the most part in your own bubble all of the time. I am naturally interested in surfing, surf companies and environmental groups, thus my social media streams are full of it, and it appears on the surface that everyone knows about and is doing something about plastic in the ocean. But step out of that bubble, walk into an assembly in a high school in Birmingham, and then you realise that in the real world, not the environmental one, no one is that tuned in, and it's these people that will change the world by their actions. We're trying to all work towards the greater good, and there are more and more large companies wanting to do something about it, but it will be the next generation changing their attitudes and attitude towards plastic, and the way it is used and disposed of that will ultimately make the difference.
So what next, and how do you plan to take The Plastic Project forward?
Well there is a three way approach. I am travelling from north to south pole (or close to), getting to the remotest coastlines and islands along the way, thus building up this incredible visual reference of what is really going on. As well as that we're looking for surf, adventure which is what is mostly paying the way to do this and selling the tales. I'm also filming it all, so we're going to be producing a series of short films as well as a longer one. Then there is the education side, part of it is showing films, part of it is going into places and talking, but we're also working on a full workshop programme which has the potential to reach 9 million kids around the world. Then finally we have this map and ambassador programme. We are creating a map of images from every corner of the world, a photo is the most powerful form of communication as it tells a story in seconds, so the idea is we are bringing photographers and surfers in as ambassadors, they then once or twice a year send images in, not beach cleans, we want to show rubbish in the situation it is found. The map is then accessible with info to everyone on the planet, so a class of kids can access it and understand where they fit in anywhere. Like I said before stats are one thing, campaigning for legislation change is incredibly important, but communicating the problem in simple and effective ways to all 7 billion people on Earth is where the challenge really lies, we can all do something that makes a positive impact on the Earth today.
For more information check out their website and follow them on social media.