Making an ocean

When Diony Lalieu, a surfer from Muizenberg, competed in the South African Championships longboarding contest in Durban last year, she was amazed that there was a daily delivery of single-use plastic water bottles to the athletes and she decided to do something about it.

“Ocean Pledge was established and at first I pledged never ever to use single-use plastic water bottles again.

“Ocean Pledge is an initiative that is just over a year and a half in the making. It is run by a team of professional volunteers (including a storyteller, a businessman, a researcher and psychologist, a sustainability consultant, a designer, some tech executives and a policymaker) who incidentally all love surfing and are dedicated to making a difference to South Africa’s current status as 11th largest contributor of marine plastic,” she says.

The organisation is built on an ethos which they have abbreviated to Care.

“We believe that as a species, our greatest achievements are through Collaboration and different points of view. That an Action is better than doing nothing. That Response needs to be purposeful and from within. And that together all these intentions will enable us to Enjoy the ocean for generations to come.

“Ocean Pledge is essentially an initiative that concerns single-use plastic and its impact on our oceans, but with a positive and motivating stance.

“We have four core leverage points with which to impact waste reduction and educate/encourage change in consumers,” Lalieu says.

They are:

. Ocean Guardian Series – An educational programme sensitive to language and culture, focused on developing world needs (as opposed to the more popular editions aimed at First World/ literate kids). It targets kids aged between six and 12 and involves mobile pop-up classrooms.

. Blue Oceans Restaurants – They have partnered with a number of organisations locally and internationally to leverage a restaurant programme that is aimed at mitigating single-use plastic waste generated by the food and beverage sector (individual sweet wrappers, straws, expanded foam, etc.), while simultaneously re-educating consumers.

. Blue Ocean events – They facilitate the creation of events in which the absence of plastic is celebrated. They mostly work with events that are inspirational/aspirational to the younger generations (such as surfing and music concerts). “The programme is currently in the pilot phase and we have had such a great response that we cannot keep up with demand and requests that we are going to need to expand this out in a smart, intuitive way, leveraging the volunteer programme in smart digital ways to scale it out.”

. Making your Ocean Pledge – They believe that like drops in the ocean, most people want to do something positive but often don’t know where to start or feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the plastic situation at hand. They started gathering pledges from non-surfers and changed it from Surfers’ Pledge to Ocean Pledge.

“We are always looking for volunteers. There is so much to be done, from getting people to sign their pledges to helping to conduct workshops, helping with social media, back-end research and so much more. One of the biggest things needed right now is volunteers to scale out the restaurant programme so that we can make a big impact,” she says.

They have regular meetings as a team to decide what is needed and also partner with brands and organisations at various ocean-related and music events.

V Contact Diony at diony@oceanpledge.org or on 083 643 1614.