Radical Activism & Radical Hope
2019 has been another momentous year for Surfers Against Sewage, from the front line of radical activism at beaches, to our campaigners applying pressure for radical change in legislation in Westminster, we’ve made some good progress. So we’d like to start by thanking everyone who has taken part in the growing movement for ocean protection – the incredible volunteers; the inspirational plastic-free champions; the climate protesters; the ocean activists; the scientists; the athletes; and our inspirational members and fundraisers. Every one of you brings vital energy and impact at this time of ocean, environment and climate emergency. The ocean now needs you more than ever before – thank you for all you do.
Climate & Ocean
The year saw the unstoppable rise of the climate movement, with many of our community leaders ready and waiting to take action and participate. Plastic pollution proved both a powerful gateway issue to other ocean issues – climate change, ocean restoration and stopping exploitation – but also revealed its deep connectivity to the climate agenda, being fuelled by the monolithic fossil fuel industry.
Our communities have also campaigned heavily on other issues including water quality and sewage, and calling for more highly protected marine parks and faster action on climate change.
Legally Binding Targets
Years of campaigning with our fellow environmental NGOs also took another big leap forward, with our campaign for Deposit Return Systems, plastic bans and the elimination of single-use plastics all featuring in the Queen’s Speech. We will now redouble the campaign effort to ensure these are enacted, implemented and enforced to deliver one of the biggest legislative and environmental success in our 30 years.
We’re proud to work with you to drive the environmental change that is beginning to take hold around the world. Dramatic times require radical activism and, more importantly, radical hope. Together we stand for a healthy ocean and hope for the future of our rivers, coastlines, marine life and people. We need to be steadfast in our call for governments, businesses and individuals to change behaviours, systems and legislation for the long term good of planet ocean.
Here are some of the moments we can be proud of this year:
- We launched the #GenerationSea campaign, a new movement for the ocean, expanding our scope and remit on climate change, water quality, marine protected areas and plastics. This is the movement that unites an authentic voice of the ocean to call on politicians to deliver change through our Ocean Conservation All Party Parliamentary Group.
Plastic Free Schools
- Plastic Free Schools became one of UK schools favourite environmental programmes, reaching thousands of schools and over 800,000 students. One of our schools, Damers First School, even met with the then Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove MP, to urge an ambitious Deposit Return Scheme for the whole of the UK.
Beach Cleans & Plastic Pollution Data
- Record-breaking beach cleans! The Big Spring Beach Clean and the Autumn Beach Clean Series mobilise record numbers of volunteers, with over 90,000 participants and 130 tonnes of plastic removed and recorded. A part of this, we launch the most ambitious UK beach brand audit – an extension of our successful 2008 Return To Offender campaign. Our report reveals Coca Cola and PepsiCo are responsible for 25% of packaging pollution found on UK beaches, and that multinational corporations are responsible for most of the plastic pollution in our ocean.
SAS Helps Deliver Plastic Ban!
- After months of consultations and campaigning, we celebrate a huge campaign victory as the government confirms it will ban plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in England by the end of 2020. Stopping the production of pointless plastics will always be a primary goal with the most impact. Strengthening and enforcing legislation is the best way to drive both individual and corporate behaviour change.
- We release The Creature film, which becomes the most successful SAS film ever and is viewed by millions of people globally. The film helps reinforce our new direction in campaigning with #GenerationSea.
The Safer Seas Service – award-winning app!
- We relaunched the Safer Seas Service covering Scotland for the first time and providing real-time water quality information at 370 locations. We were stoked to improve the service beyond recognition this year, when water quality concerns came back onto the public agenda. Damning reports on the water industry and record fines being issued to Southern Water for unethical practices and sewage discharges provided further stark evidence at the need for action to report and prevent sewage pollution. The Safer Seas Service wins in the National App Awards!
Water Quality Report
- The return of the gas masks! Surfers Against Sewage activists challenge water companies on sewage pollution of the UK coastline and rivers with the release of a ground-breaking expose on sewage pollution – the Water Quality Report.
- The Queen’s Speech confirms an Environment Bill to “enshrine principles in law” and set legally binding “improvement targets” to reduce plastics, cut air pollution, restore biodiversity and improve water quality. Plastics feature heavily in Queen’s Speech – including Deposit Return Schemes and Extended Producer Responsibility.
Plastic Free Awards
- The Plastic Free Awards celebrate the heroes of the environmental movement protecting our planet from plastic pollution. Finalists from around the UK converge on Bristol for an inspirational awards ceremony! Sir David Attenborough wins our overall award!
Thanks to all our supporters, members, volunteers, Regional Reps, partners, collaborators and ocean activists everywhere! See you in 2020.
Drastic measures are needed to protect the marine environment. Become a member today to help us tackle pollution in our seas and on the beaches, inspire communities to take action and push for change at the highest level.
This year has seen the rise of radical activism and radical hope for our ocean. We are proud to help inspire and empower activists around the country to take action on climate change, plastic pollution, water quality and other issues degrading Planet Ocean. Together, we are making progress and true change is on the horizon as the environmental revolution accelerates. Our collective calls are beginning to be heard by those in power - change is coming. Meanwhile, the personal actions, commitments and changes we make every day will help bring this change faster. Thanks to all our volunteers, supporters and ocean activists around the world. We need to continue our mission of radical action and radical hope for the ocean!
Hugo Tagholm, CEO, Surfers Against Sewage