How we See It | Only Leave Your Footprints - Q&A with the Ecosurfgirls

by Tess Wood

As a purpose driven company, we are always looking at what can be done in regards to our consumption and waste problems, so we've teamed up with the incredible ladies that are the Eco-surfgirls to ask them a few questions about the environmental impact and what can be done to help out. These amazing women are a volunteer lead group based in Dorset. They are a mission led, social enterprise driven by change. Raising awareness of the fragility of our oceans and organising activities to help reduce waste wherever possible here in the UK, as well as providing pro-surf coaching with fully trained lifeguards and yoga. I hope through this questionnaire you not only learn a little bit about the impacts we are having on our environment here in the UK and around the world but also feel inspired to promote change and reach out to support not only the Eco-surfgirls but sustainable eco-based organizations in your area!


Q: What was the driving force behind ecosurfgirls being formed?


Being inspired. During my first surf-trip for girls with Billabong back in 2014, I discovered the undeniably positive impact and life-changing experience a surf-trip can be. After each surf we picked as many pieces of plastic as we could carry along with our boards. It felt like we’re giving something back to the ocean protecting it from the plastic that was inevitably going to be washed back in with the tide. Being able to inspire a positive social change, a mindset of another person to protect the ocean and the life within it was the driving force. Eco-surfgirls has become a mission-led community inspiring like-minded people to take ownership in protecting the environment.


Q: What are some of the biggest obstacles you guys encounter?


Some of the locations we litter pick at are tricky to get to and then removing the bags crammed with waste is challenging or impossible. One of the most challenging locations so far, was Kimmeridge Bay, the bench area where the plastic from around the world gets washed up on the shore of a small bay, almost impossible to get to due to the lengthy walk through the sharp rocks and the changing tide. Sometimes, I feel helpless and wish for more helping hands to carry the heavy bags over the rocky trails. However, as long as we manage to bring enough waste back to the base, it makes a significant impact. Sometimes, it is the weather that becomes an obstacle when organising a beach clean. It’s unfortunate to cancel events/get togethers when everyone is determined to help and be a part of the community, so most of the beach cleanups are very spontaneous.




Q: What are some of the things you have found in the ocean or on the beaches that surprised you the most?


Everything we find in the ocean or washed up/found on the beach continues to surprise us. Nothing we find belongs there. We encountered headless dolls, dinghy, toothbrushes, cups from plastic bottles, cigarettes butts, beach toys, inflatable beach balls, sweets wrappers, clothing, takeaway cups, prosecco corks, dogs’ throwing balls, microplastics and wipes buried in the sand.


Q: What impact did this summer season 2020 have on our beaches here in Dorset and our ocean? Did you notice an increase in waste in comparison to previous years?


We did, indeed. With the record number of visitors to the Dorset area, we have noticed a huge increase in waste featuring disposable face masks, which happen to be an environmental disaster. Face coverings are now a legal requirement in many public spaces, but even before they became compulsory, masks were causing litter problems on land and at sea. The majority of masks are manufactured from long-lasting plastic materials, and when disposed of can persist in the environment for decades to hundreds of years. This means they can have a number of impacts on the environment and people. We have to protect ourselves and others, but we could do it with reusable masks. That could immediately reduce the demand for disposable masks in the environment.


Q: What is the biggest thing we can do to keep our beaches and oceans clean?


Ocean air has amazing health benefits. The negative ions in sea air accelerate your ability to absorb oxygen, and balance your serotonin levels, a body chemical linked with mood and stress. Which is why you feel more alert, relaxed and energised after spending a few minutes at the beach. We strongly believe in giving something back to the ocean, environment and local community when visiting the coast. After a lovely stroll along the promenade, sunbathing or relaxing reading a book on the beach, playing with our children, why don’t we give something back by picking a few bits of litter we see around us. There are plenty of bins provided along the coast including the ‘recycling’ bins for glass, plastic and cans. Showing our children that little picking is part of visiting and enjoying our beaches will inspire them for life and make all the difference we desperately need. It will make you feel wonderful, too.


Q: Do you have suggestions for anyone trying to transition into a more waste free and sustainable lifestyle?


It’s very simple as it can be done in stages. Even the smallest change will provide a positive impact on the environment. The easiest change is to avoid single use plastic i.e. straws, plastic cups, bottles, cotton buds on plastic sticks or cutlery. Carry your own reusable water bottle and shopping bag every day, even if you’re not on the way to the shops. It’s nice to have a shopping bag on you in case you decide to pop into the shop. Keeping bags in the car, I found extremely useful. Swapping your plastic toothbrush with a wooden one would also a step forward. All those listed ideas will contribute to reducing waste in our households and day to day lives. We all can do it and inspire the people around us.



Q: Lastly, If someone was interested in what you guys are doing, what are some of the things they could do to help out, and get in contact with you?


We’re on social media and always happy to have a chat. We organise beach cleans which bring small groups of people together. Recently we have been litter picking in even smaller groups to keep safe as much as possible, so we encourage anyone interested in helping to go out there and do their bit. Feel great and proud of yourself for making the difference. You can also tag us on Instagram – @ecosurfgirls - We also have a website which you can check out at here.


We hope you enjoyed our interview with Magdalena from the Eco-surfgirls, even though we are going in to to winter, we'd highly encourage you get down to the coast and soak in some sea air. With peak beach season over, you'd be surprised at how much rubbish still pops up over our beaches, so we'd highly encourage anyone to pick up what they can. As Magdalena says, it can be highly rewarding even just collecting a few bits off the beach! 

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