Ever been thanked by a dolphin while checking out your groceries?
Ahead of World Oceans Day on 8 June, we built custom pop-up checkouts in selected supermarkets across Europe.
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The sun is shining, the sky is blue and the Biarritz beach front is buzzing with the sound of surfers on a Saturday morning in early May. I’m here as a guest of Friends of Glass and the winner of the Christmas Cheers to The Ocean Competition.
I can’t quite believe it. It’s a dream come true.
The weekend began on Friday evening when I met the team which consisted of Amy, our host from Brussels, Bea from Spain, Joana from Portugal, Sara from Italy, Caroline from Germany and Marta, a surfer from Biarritz. A group of young women, almost all half my age, and a delight.
Over a most delicious dinner at Chez Albert, just yards from the sea, we shared our passion for protecting the ocean and excitement for the surfing and beach cleaning weekend.
Refreshed by a great night’s sleep & nourishing breakfast at Hotel Kemaris (hooray for French yogurt in glass jars!) we met Tom, our instructor, from the Jo Moraiz Surf School. Founded in 1966, it was the first French surf school in Biarritz and we could not have been in better hands.
After a warm up & lesson on the sand, our every move captured by the friendly film crew that joined us for the day, we headed into the waves.
Within a few minutes we were all popping up! Yes! Even me! Laughter, cheering and the occasional “oops” followed as we rode the clear blue waves. By the time we finished, we all felt a sense of achievement and real joy.
Lunch at Le Surfing on the beach front followed and we raised a toast to the ocean with pomegranate & raspberry mocktails. The divine chocolate mousse for dessert, which was served in a pretty glass, was one of the best I’ve ever tasted.
It is most definitely a post surfing recovery superfood!
Our next mission was to travel to Tarnos along the coast to beach clean and meet the Surfrider Europe team. By now the weather had turned a little windier and with the waves crashing on the beach, we focused our minds on the clean-up.
Cotton buds, ghost nets, takeaway packaging and the usual “I’m not actually sure what this is” debris were all part of the finds and after about an hour, we had filled five large bags. Teamwork makes the dream work as they say!
I love litter picking & doing it with others was a joy. If surfing had raised my heart beat in the morning, it was beach cleaning in the afternoon that filled my soul.
Since January 2018, I have taken 2 minutes each day wherever I am to pick up litter – whether that’s on the beach, in the hills where I run & plog (running and picking up litter!) or on the streets on my way to work.
It has become part of my personal Wheel of Well-being and daily healthy habits looking after the places I live, play, and work in. So much so I made a short film about my #2minutebeachclean project called Small Things, Great Love.
I was therefore hugely interested in what I could learn to make more of a difference at home.
Two key messages stood out: 80% of the marine pollution that ends up in the ocean comes from inland sources, 10% from what we leave on the beach & 10% from the marine & fishing industry.
However, 100% is our responsibility and so we also have the chance to make a difference. For example, using a reusable cup or straw, taking a water bottle, our own shopping bags, beeswax wraps for sandwiches & choosing to buy in glass bottles or going to a refill shop and buying in bulk.
Having completed our beach clean & filming, we made our way back to the hotel for a relaxing evening after such an amazing day.
Before leaving for home I strolled around beautiful Biarritz on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning. It had been a weekend of dreams coming true complete with surfing, friendships & inspiration.
And yes, I did a 2 minute beach clean too – my way of saying thank you & making a difference to the ocean that has brought so much joy.
Cheers to the Ocean!