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Recycling marine plastic into surfboard fins: the ecoFin

I visited the Eden Project at the end of November for their second ‘Festival of Hope’, a celebration of positive stories and action for sustainability. Many of the speakers and exhibitors were making specific calls to action, which I’ve tried to pull together here.

Festival of Hope: Calls to action

Ocean plastic

6.4 million tonnes of litter enter the sea every year. This is over 8 million individual pieces every day. That’s a rubbish truck-worth of plastic waste into the ocean every minute. The majority is single-use, such as straws, plastic bottles and the plastic rings around six-pack drinks. It causes the death of 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million sea birds every year.

Cal Major, Paddle Against Plastic (a 260-mile paddleboarding expedition around the coast of Cornwall to raise awareness of ocean plastic):

"Plastic has some amazing uses. But it’s the single-use items that we can do without – things we use for 10 seconds, they’re affecting our oceans for hundreds and hundreds of years. We’re estimating 400 years for a plastic bottle to break down – that’s not going away, that’s breaking down into tiny pieces.

What can you do – take bottles away from the beach with you. Get into the habit of taking your refillable bottle with you."

Take part in the #2minutebeachclean, or a #2minutelitterpick next time you’re out and about! Collect rubbish next time you’re out, and share a photo online to help raise awareness of the power that individuals have to make their environment better. "This is a story of collaboration, community, passion and personality. I believe that if you have these, you can do an awful lot of stuff with it." (Martin Dorey, founder of the #2minutebeachclean)

Take a leaf from Pukka Teas

30 million litres of water are boiled for hot drinks every day in the UK, only to go cold again! Fill your kettle from your cup to make sure you heat as much as you need – and this means you get your cup of tea even quicker.

Smart purchasing

"We vote everyday of our lives with our purchasing decisions. It’s up to us, it’s not up to governments and legislation. It’s up to us to direct funds and support to organisations that support sustainability and sustainable practices" (Adam Hall, Head of Sustainability, Surfdome).

Ask yourself:

  • Do I need that? (can I reuse something?)
  • How was it made?
  • What is it made of? (palm oil or other toxic material?)
  • What is it packaged in?
  • How was it transported? (can you get a local option?)
  • What happens at end of life?

Jen Gale and her family of 4 took part in a ‘make do and mend year’, which has now become a permanent lifestyle change.

  • "We all know that three t-shirts for £5 is cutting corners somewhere. We somehow think that our need for cheap t-shirts is at the expense of someone’s right to fair working conditions."
  • "We are all consumers, but that’s a kind of power."
  • "One person, one family really can make a difference. We can all create change, and that’s really powerful."
  • "Being aware is a great first step to controlling your impact on the world" – can you buy just one new thing each month, or start to monitor what your money is actually being spend on?

Food Coop, UEA student union initiative

Food waste

1.3 billion tonnes of the world’s food is wasted per year. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

  • Try taking a photo of your fridge before you go shopping, so that you can remember what you already have.
  • Check out the ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ website for recipe examples and tips. For example, did you know you can freeze grated hard cheese?

Sir Tim Smit, Co-founder of the Eden Project: "Has it not occurred to people that we’re coming to a population of 9 billion? The growing and science of growing stuff is going to make our world open up. Eden’s quest is to make the growing of food and the nurture of food hipper than rocking horse shit."

Assorted action links

‘B Corporations’ are certified organisations who are using business as a force for good. They represent £1 billion of combined revenue! Check out the Annual B Fest in Pembrokeshire to join them.

Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) mobilise 20,000 volunteers every year 2016 statistics: 110,000 volunteer hours, >70 tonnes removed, 17 tonnes of which recycled, estimated community value of £1,077,106. Get involved:

Follow Cal Major, Paddle Against Plastic:

Check out the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy ( These reward exciting innovation projects that lift people from poverty and work for sustainability. They emphasise that there isn’t a clash between these two areas of key demand, and the power of technology to level the playing field between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’. (via Martin Wright, Forum for the Future, who describes these projects as "a gorgeous win-win".)

Download the ‘Refill’ app – a rewards-based app, where you log in when re-fill your reusable bottle and gain points. Help add refill stations to the national database! (On Android and iOS) – follow Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea, on Twitter to stay updated (@nataliefee)

‘Positive News’ is described as an antidote to the general media; "It’s about lighting candles, not cursing the darkness" (Martin Wright, Forum for the Future)

Check out ‘The Plastic Project’: a film and online content that takes the viewer on a cinematic journey that also highlights plastic issues (

Fourth Element is a company that, amongst other products, produces swimwear out of ‘Econyl’ – ghost fishing nets that are recycled into nylon yarn. Over 100,000 tonnes of nets were recovered last year and this is increasing year on year. Awareness is also increasing amongst the fishing communities where they work: the amount of net being lost is reducing and the amount being recovered is increasing.

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Part I: Issues and Ideas

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Part III: Inspiration and change champions

About the author – Cat Darsley, CHAIN Comms Officer

I moved to Norwich in February 2016, and am enjoying celebrating the challenge of a low carbon lifestyle despite the pressures of our modern society. From vegan baking experiments to UK exploration, I continue to get excited about the huge amount of possibility within low-impact choices!


  • Eden Project
  • Climate action
  • Zero plastic
  • Waste
  • Get involved